FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Aug 20, 2012
NANCY FALCHUK AND HADASSAH CENTENNIAL INTERNS DISCUSS HADASSAH'S HISTORY, RESEARCH ON JEWISH WOMEN
Seminars provided the HBI Centennial Interns with exposure to research methodologies used in the study of Jews and gender.
WALTHAM, MA —In honor of Hadassah’s centennial year, Nancy Falchuk, the 24th National President of Hadassah, met with the eight 2012 HBI (Hadassah-Brandeis Institute) interns. Brandeis Professor Shulamit Reinharz, formerly chair of the Hadassah Commission on American Jewish Women, established the HBI at Brandeis University in 1997 with a grant from Hadassah. The internship program, which just completed its 13th year, encourages undergraduate and graduate students of all genders, religions, and nationalities to apply.
In addition to completing individual research projects, the interns assisted faculty from Brandeis and other Boston-area universities with projects that develop fresh ways of thinking about Jews and gender. Students from Poland and five American different states comprised this year’s class. To commemorate Hadassah’s milestone, the interns were named Hadassah Centennial Interns, and Falchuk’s visit also honored this anniversary.
During the intimate gathering, held at the HBI’s offices at Brandeis University, Falchuk provided the interns with a deeper understanding of Hadassah’s mission and activities, while she learned about the interns’ individual research projects. Their projects reflect the breadth of research that the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute supports. Topics this summer included the complex identities of gay and lesbian Jews, transgender Jews’ struggle for acceptance, and a look at what makes Jewish women’s humor unique. One intern examined the evolution of Jewish women’s reproductive choices, while another studied marital strife in New York’s Lower East Side at the turn of the century.
"It was a real pleasure for me to be given the opportunity to meet with the very bright and diverse women interning this summer at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute,” said Falchuk. “I was impressed with their choice of research projects, as well as how much they appreciated and valued the connection to the Brandeis scholars mentoring each of them.”
Intern Sydney Sadur, one of three students from Smith College, said, “The meeting helped me recognize what a multifaceted organization Hadassah is. I knew about their presence in Israel, but after hearing [Falchuk] speak I learned more about their work in the United States.”
A highlight for the interns was hearing about Falchuk’s day-to-day experiences running such a visible organization.
“[Falchuk] made sure to highlight the volunteers’ hard work that makes Hadassah as strong as it is,” said intern Aislinn Betancourt, a recent graduate of Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida.
Falchuk said, “I was proud to represent Hadassah, the women's organization that had the good sense more than a decade ago to join forces with Brandeis and establish a new field: research on Jewish women's history, on our lives, and on our culture. No doubt this field will have a large impact on understanding the historic role and significance the Jewish woman has had here in America and around the world."
The HBI Internship Program is funded by the Jim Joseph Foundation and an anonymous donor.