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The Words of Jewish Studies Undergraduate and Graduate Students and Alumni

The Words of Jewish Studies Undergraduate Students and Alumni

“The Borns Jewish Studies Program at IU offers the best of both worlds. I am able to have the perks of a large university while also being able to create strong, close relationships with my professors and advisor.” — Frankie Salzman, sophomore JS major

“The Jewish Sacred Music program is the ideal route for prospective cantorial students. Getting to experience courses in both music and Jewish studies is a unique opportunity that can only be found at IU. With helpful advisors, tons of interesting classes, and an environment full of opportunities, IU is the only place to go for Jewish sacred music.” — Rebecca Mann, 2017 Jewish Sacred Music/Jewish Studies major

 “I chose to attend Indiana University, in large part, because of the Jewish Studies program. It was a decision based on concrete factors--the large number of majors, the breadth and prestige of the Jewish Studies faculty, and the unparalleled funding available to attract top students to the program. However, after visiting campus and meeting with Carolyn Lipson-Walker, it was also a decision based on intangible factors--the coziness of Goodbody Hall, the warmth and familiarity I saw between faculty and staff, and the seemingly endless opportunities that I would have. All of those factors came to fruition, as I had the opportunity to study the an incredibly wide range of academic topics within Jewish studies, to attend extra-curricular JS lectures, discussions, films, plays, and musical performances, and to build meaningful relationships with staff, faculty, and fellow undergraduate and graduate students.” — Sarah Wilensky, Jewish Studies, Religious Studies, Political Science/Economics B.A., 2011; Covington & Burling, LLP, New York City

“So many doors are being opened to me because of my time as a student of the Borns Jewish Studies Program. I am so thankful that the program has given me the opportunity to learn and grow in an environment where I can be most successful. “ — Austin Zoot, B.A., 2014; Rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College

"I came to IU specifically for the renowned Borns Jewish Studies Program and I have not regretted my decision for a single moment. It is well known in the Jewish professional world as a top program. It is one of the most supportive campuses for Jewish students who love Israel. The advisors, faculty, and staff of the Borns JSP have been nothing but helpful and supportive my entire college career. The class options are tremendous and interesting. My best friends from IU were Jewish Studies majors and I have formed great relationships with Jewish Studies alumni. I even got my first job from connecting with IU Jewish Studies alumni! My professors have taken the time to get to know students. I have been to many professors' houses for dinner. The Borns JSP is really a family and they have fostered a supporting community in the heart of Indiana unlike anything I have ever seen on another campus." — Emily Berman, Jewish Studies and Political Science B.A., 2010; formerly Midwest Political Director for AIPAC; currently Deputy Director for Strategic Partnerships & Global Affairs for the City of Chicago

 “The Borns JSP isn’t just an excellent academic program, but a family.” — Aela Sapir, Jewish Studies B.A. & Hebrew minor, May 2012; teacher in Yeruham, Israel

“When I was in school, people asked me, ‘What can you do with a Jewish Studies degree?’ Well, I didn’t know at the time but my degree prepared me for a career in Jewish media. And as the Jewish World Editor for The Times of Israel, I’m drawing on what I learned almost every day.” Amanda Borschel-Dan, B.A. 1999; Jewish World Maven, The Times of Israel

“The close-knit community of the JSP has really made an impact on my experience at IU. The individual attention I receive in terms of advising and when speaking to a professor is more than I could ask for in a program and has exceeded my expectations in many ways.” — Sarah Pellegrino, class of 2012

"I have had a very positive experience in the Jewish Studies Program at IU. The professors make an effort to work with students one-on-one, always willing to lend advice and help with matters both inside and outside of the classroom. Each Jewish Studies course that I have taken has stimulated my thinking greatly. Both the faculty and staff members have gone out of their way to help me and other students." — Lauren Jacobson Rosenberg, Jewish Studies B.A., 2010; Leadership Gifts Officer for Facing HIstory and Ourselves, Chicago

My Hebrew has improved immensely over the years and it is largely due to the IU Jewish Studies Modern Hebrew Language Program. The faculty is wonderful!” — Leah Boresow, August 2012 graduate

“JS played a major role in my experience at IU. In addition to the wonderful faculty and engaging classes, I was able to spend a semester at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem. My education at IU is deeply rooted in JS.” — Jill Cogan, B.A., 2011; songleader and music and youth coordinator at Congregation Adath Emanuel in Moorestown, NJ.

“While I had experience with the Jewish Studies faculty because of my pursuit of Religious Studies, I joined the Jewish Studies Program community late in my college experience and I wish I would've joined sooner! The community is so supportive and so close. I worked with Dr. Levene and Dr. Harrill in Religious Studies courses and they were certainly two of the best professors I have encountered at IU. I also worked with Dr. Magid and Dr. Imhoff on my honors thesis and their wealth of knowledge, coupled with their desire to help me accomplish the daunting task of writing a thesis was truly amazing. I recommend the Jewish Studies Program to anyone who wants to improve their critical thinking and who wants to investigate the complicated idea of identity, using Jews as a case study - I am being purposely broad because I think everyone could benefit from a Jewish Studies class. While this pursuit of study seems specific, it's so far-reaching and all-encompassing.” — Hannah Cohen, Religious Studies B.A; Jewish Studies certificate, August, 2011

“Borns Jewish Studies Program is a phenomenal program. The professors are fantastic, engaging, insightful, and approachable.” — Travis Yon; Israel Defence Force

"The Borns Jewish Studies Program is rightly known as the best program of its kind. The faculty are all leaders in their field, the advisor is incredibly knowledgeable and supportive, and the program itself is flexible enough to sustain a variety of student interests. I am honored to have been a student in the program and feel confident that a degree in Jewish Studies will serve me well in the future." — Aren Wilson-Wright, Jewish Studies, Religious Studies, and Mathematics B.A., 2010; Ph.D. in Hebrew Studies at University of Texas; Post-doctoral Fellow, University of Zurich

“I signed up for a Jewish Studies class to meet Jewish students and to continue my Hebrew from my gap year in Israel. But now, looking back, pursuing a certificate in Jewish Studies helped pave a path for me in Jewish communal work and currently in Jewish education. The lessons I learned from the outstanding team of JSP professors instilled in me the inspiration and drive to give back to the Jewish community and make a difference.Greta Rothschild (1984) Education Director at Aitz Hayim Center for Jewish Living, Chicago

“I’ve been involved with several departments at IU and I’ve never felt more comfortable, welcome, and consistently engaged that I do in the Jewish Studies Program. The faculty is deeply involved with students and the program hosts events that foster a genuine sense of community, in addition, to promoting an environment of academic excellence.”
Samuel Ujdak, Jewish Studies and Religious Studies, 2014; master’s degree student in Jewish Studies at the University of Michigan

"Becoming a JS major was the best decision I ever made during my college career. It gave me the opportunity to form a connection with professors, advisors, and students in a much more personal atmosphere than any other major I could have chosen. It also helped me to realize that I enjoy learning about Judaism and that keeping Judaism a constant part of my life is a meaningful and necessary experience for me now and in the future. The experiences I’ve had, the friendships I’ve made, and the meaning of Judaism in my life have all been a direct result of the Borns JSP."
Rabbi Elizabeth Wood Zeller, B.A., May 2004. Elizabeth is Director of Learning and Innovation for NFTY

“The Jewish Studies Program provides students with so much individual attention and help that you forget you’re at a school with tens of thousands of students.” — Melody Mostow Coven, B.A, 2013; Associate Director of Development, Northwestern Hillel

"I had three requirements for the perfect university: a top-notch music school, a topnotch JSP, and a vibrant Jewish community. Coming to IU is probably the best decision I ever made and my JS classes were the highlight of my day throughout my four years at IU."
Philip Ohriner, School of Music B.S. and Outside Field in Jewish Studies, May 2002; Senior Rabbi, Congregation Beth David, Saratoga, California

"The Jewish Studies Program at IU has been such an amazing experience for me. I have been able to take classes in such a wide variety of subjects and work with some of the most intelligent professors. I have learned so much here and had a really great time doing it. I feel fully prepared by my education here to begin graduate school at JTS." — Danielle Zuber, B.A. in Jewish Studies and minor in Hebrew, 2007
"Jewish Studies is a great addition to other studies at IU and it can add a nice liberal arts focus for Business students. The religious studies and history components have important ethical and international business elements." — David Fliesher, Jewish Studies certificate; Kelley School of Business major, 2007

“The JSP offers incredible opportunities for students who are a part of the program—from scholarships to jobs, fellowships, or graduate school information. The JSP works hard to make sure students are prepared for life after IU.” — Marisa Briefman, certificate, 2013; Annual Giving Manager, Jewish Social Services, Rockville MD

"The Jewish Studies Program here at IU has been a great way for me to break from my science course load and pursue something completely different that was of interest to me. The courses were all very stimulating and every Jewish Studies course I have taken was well taught. Jewish Studies has really helped me learn about my heritage and has made me a more well-rounded student." — Dr. Leslie Abrams Tobe, Jewish Studies certificate, Biology major, 2007

"My Jewish Studies courses have given me a great foundation for life: I have learned how to translate the Hebrew Bible and have been challenged in studying Jewish history." — Paul Helms, certificate in Jewish Studies, 2007

“The JSP has fulfilled all of my academic goals while I have been a student here at IU. The faculty is a group of intelligent, warm people that are always here to lend a helping hand, whether inside or outside the classroom.” — Cantor Lily Tash, Jewish Studies/Jewish Sacred Music major, B.A. 2011; Cantor/Educator, Temple Shalom of the South Bay, Hermosa Beach, CA

"I really loved the flexibility of the program. I know many people who earned the Jewish Studies major or certificate and each of us focused on something different. The funds available for scholarships in Jewish Studies are unmatched in any other department or program."
Jorie Slodki, certificate in Jewish Studies and minor in Yiddish Studies, 2007; Jewish Student Life Coordinator at Iowa Hillel

"The Borns JSP gave me the tools to be confident and successful in the Jewish professional world." — Emily Walsh, Certificate, May 2004; Wexner Fellow; Assistant Director for Education for Youth and Family at B'nai Jeshurun Congregation in New York City.
"I was a student in the highly acclaimed Kelley School of Business here at IU. While my business education was outstanding, the environment that I was surrounded with in Business could not compete with that of the Borns JSP. I was able to develop wonderful relationships with not only brilliant, hardworking, and fun students, but with faculty members. Professors and staff members within this program have a genuine interest in the success and lives of their students. The knowledge that I gained throughout all of my JS classes helped create a well-rounded education." —  Michelle Steiman, Certificate, May 2005; attorney at TransUnion, Chicago

"After attending a private Jewish day school for 12 years, IU offered me the opportunity to get a Jewish education on a higher level. The professors were incredible." — Jonathan Azulay, B.A., 2004, Associate at Newmark, Chicago

From Ph.D. Alumni and Current Graduate Students

“The faculty has designed a well-supported M.A. degree that shows in personal investment and prodigious funding opportunities. As a small graduate program, the Borns JSP fosters an uncommon culture of partnership among M.A. students and Ph.D. minors while offering the interdisciplinary courses and sponsored events of a large university. One example of this mutual support is the thriving JS Graduate Student Association which provides monthly paper readings, a regular graduate student conference, and faculty-graduate workshops/lunches at least once a month. I have received access to some of the top professors in Jewish studies while gaining rare professional experiences for an M.A. student, including teaching responsibilities and guest lectureships in my first year. The strength of this M.A. program lies in the tight-knit, supportive and focused academic community nurtured by accessible professors and dedicated staff.”
-Matthew Brittingham, Jewish Studies M.A. 2014; doctoral student at Emory University

"My work at IU focuses on both Christianity and Judaism in the first several centuries of this era, a time when both traditions were growing and changing. In particular, I am working on a project that explores how Jews and Christians thought about and represented angels, in both texts and art. Even though I study Judaism in antiquity, some of the most provocative and productive conversations I’ve had during my time here at IU have been with scholars of Judaism in the modern period, conversations that happen because of the multi-department, multidiscipline character of the Borns JSP. I’ve had a chance to practice my teaching skills because of the JSP: when there was a need for a beginning biblical Hebrew teacher, the program took a chance and hired me. The students who have gone through my classes have been bright and impressive in the range of subjects and projects they are pursuing"
Ellen Muehlberger, Ph.D. 2008 in Religious Studies completing a doctoral minor in Jewish Studies; Assistant Professor, University of Michigan

"My interest in graduate study began during my undergraduate years at the University of Michigan. I took a class in Yiddish literature taught by a visiting professor. But I began to wonder why there was no course in Jewish American literature. And so for the past eight years I have been reading and writing about Jewish American literature, specifically the history of its invention. Graduate school at IU has for me been a laboratory where I have experimented with new modes of thought and critical expression."
Jeremy Shere, Ph.D. in English with doctoral minor in Jewish Studies; writer and producer

“I don’t know if there is a program or department anywhere that takes such good care of its students and that supports them at every step of their academic career as the Borns Jewish Studies Program.”
-Barbara Krawcowicz, Ph.D. 2013; Post-Doctoral Fellow, Norweigian University of Science and Technology

"Thanks to my doctoral studies in the Department of History and the Borns JSP, I have had a rare opportunity to take outstanding Jewish history, literature, and philosophy courses which I thoroughly enjoy. I am very happy that, as an IU graduate with a doctoral minor in JS, I can expand and deepen my knowledge in Jewish subjects well beyond the bounds of history."
Jolanta Mickute, Ph.D. 2011; Assistant Professor of HIstory, Vytautas Magnus University