2022 Letter from the Director

Dear UW and Stroum Center community,

This July marks the beginning of my five-year term as the Director of the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies. While it is a fraught and challenging time in the United States, I feel privileged to be part of the wider university community composed of faculty, staff, students, and you, all working to better our world.

I was born in Kibbutz Beit Hashita in north Israel, a place founded in the 1930s by my grandfather, among other refugees from the Pale of Settlement in the Russian Empire. At its peak, my kibbutz was the fourth largest in Israel, famous for its pickle production, its agricultural celebration of Jewish holidays, and its devotion to secular and socialist Zionism. Coming of age between rural and urban settings, as well as Israeli and American cultures, I learned how to shift perspectives in a deep way, a skill that I have endeavored to share with students.

The pandemic clarified for many of us what matters most, where we want to invest our energy, and how much our community ties matter for our health and well-being. As director of the Stroum Center, I am committed to honoring these lessons and finding new and fruitful ways for us to come together as a learning community.

While transitioning to online teaching was challenging, our faculty’s public lectures on Zoom reached more people than ever before. Our faculty have taught their hearts out in these past few years, and our students recognized their efforts, nominating eleven of them as outstanding teachers in the 2021-2022 academic year!

These pandemic years have been trying for our students, both undergraduates and graduates, who strove to continue their education despite unprecedented challenges. Thanks to our community, we have been able to support our students through emergencies, research discoveries, and transitions into new careers.

The education of this generation of students — more multicultural, worldly, and diverse than any generation before it, coming from all over the state of Washington and around the globe, from every socioeconomic background and faith — is what brings all of us together, and their education will always remain at the forefront of what we do at the Stroum Center.

Three new faculty colleagues will join us in the coming year, making for a total of thirty faculty members in Jewish Studies. Our Sephardic Studies Program will celebrate its tenth year in 2022-2023 with a wide range of public events, and our Israel Studies Program will continue to support high-quality research and public engagement.

I truly hope to see you at our events this year (both online and in person), and to connect with each of you who support our work, so that we can continue to explore how our mission at the Stroum Center can complement yours.

Thank you so much for your support of our work at the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies.


Mika Ahuvia

Director of the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies in the
Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies

Herbert L. & Lucia S. Pruzan Chair in Jewish Studies