Sunset at the Dead Sea. Photo by Yair Aronshtam.

The Stroum Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Washington is delighted to announce the winners of our Summer and Autumn 2018 Opportunity Grants.

For undergraduate students, the primary goal of the Opportunity Grants is to support undergraduate engagement with Jewish Studies through UW study abroad experiences and accredited academic opportunities in the US. For graduate students, the Opportunity Grants are intended to support research, conference attendance, and courses in topics related to Jewish Studies, either domestically or abroad.

The latest Opportunity Grant winners represent the diverse departments, disciplines, and backgrounds of Jewish Studies students at the UW. All of the winners will be writing about their experiences, so keep an eye out for their reflections this autumn.

Want to apply for the next round? The deadline for experiences taking place in Winter 2019 or Spring 2019 is October 1, 2018. Find out more here.

Our undergraduate Opportunity Grant winners receive funding through the Mitchell F. and Sophie Wise Ehrlich Student Support Fund in Jewish Studies. Special thanks to Arlene Ehrlich, Stroum Center for Jewish Studies Honorary Board member, for the generous gift that established the Student Support Fund in memory of her parents.

Kendra Berry

Kendra Berry is a Germanics major interested in contemporary social issues and linguistics, particularly how Jews and their culture relate to German culture and Germanic languages. With the support of a Mitchell F. and Sophie Wise Ehrlich Opportunity Grant, Kendra will attend the 16th annual summer seminar in Yiddish Language and Culture in Warsaw, Poland, where she will take intensive Yiddish lessons, learn about the history of Jews and Yiddish in Poland, and speak with native Yiddish speakers who are still living in Warsaw. She looks forward to using what she learns to not only study Ashkenazi culture and history further, but to reconnect with and rediscover her own family’s roots as Yiddish-speaking Jews in Poland.

Photo of Mohamed EliasMohamed Elias is a Political Science major and Jewish Studies minor. With the support of a Mitchell F. and Sophie Wise Ehrlich Opportunity Grant,  he will participate  in a program sponsored by the YIVO Institute for Yiddish and Bard College this summer. As an Iraqi native who speaks Judeo-Arabic, his interest in studying Yiddish stems from his desire to help revive this historically significant language. Being knowledgeable about Yiddish language and literature will allow him to access to the rich culture and history of Central and Eastern European Jewry.
Molly FitzMorris is a Ph.D candidate in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Washington.  Her dissertation research looks at some of the sound patterns, word formation processes, and sentence structures that make the Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) spoken in Seattle unique.  Molly will use the Stroum Center Opportunity Grant to travel to and present at the Universita d’enverano de djudyo, a weeklong Ladino conference in Paris that is held in July.
Photo of Marissa GastonMarissa Gaston is an intended Political Science major on the international security track, with planned minors in History and Classics. This summer, she will participate in the Overseas Student Program at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Beersheba, Israel, with the support of a Stroum Center Opportunity Grant. At BGU, she will focus on political science with an emphasis in Israeli studies, as well as Hebrew. She writes, “There is so much I want to learn in Israel, both on an academic and a personal level, including gaining deeper insight into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a better understanding of the origins of the Christian faith.”

Sara Molaie is a Comparative Religion Master’s student focusing on Judaism and Islam. She is currently completing a thesis on the comparative study of Persian and Hebrew revival movements in the 19th century. Funding from the Mitchell F. and Sophie Wise Ehrlich Opportunity Grant will help her to continue her research.

Image of Alex PetersonAlex Peterson‘s academic interests focus primarily on economics, with a particular emphasis on how economic policies influence the success of international diplomacy. He has a passion for Hebrew, having studyied Biblical Hebrew independently during high school and Modern Hebrew at the UW. With support from the Stroum Center Opportunity Grant, Alex will attend Hebrew ulpan (an intensive language course) in Tel Aviv this summer. By immersing himself in the Hebrew language and Israeli culture, he hopes that he will not only advance in Hebrew, but also better understand its role and potential in the modern world.

Photo of Pinar Ulumaskan Pinar Ulumaskan is a doctoral student of the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies focusing on diaspora/immigrant and civil society studies. With the support of the Stroum Center Opportunity Grant, she will explore the reemerging ties and developing cooperation between the Kurdish and Jewish people in Germany. This research complements her dissertation research, investigating why previously excluded immigrant groups are increasingly integrated into German politics and civil society.

The Stroum Center congratulates all of these award winners and wishes everyone safe travels and fruitful academic explorations!

Links for Further Exploration

  • Read articles by former of Jewish Studies Opportunity Grant winners who have traveled to Prague, Jordan, Israel, the Black Sea, and elsewhere
  • Learn more about our Winter 2018/Spring 2018 Opportunity Grant Winners
  • Interested in applying for an Opportunity Grant? Applications for opportunities taking place in Winter 2019/Spring 2019 are due October 1, 2018
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⇒ Learn more about the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Washington, our Sephardic Studies Program, or our Israel Studies Program.
Note: The opinions expressed by faculty and students in our publications reflect the views of the individual writer only and not those of the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies.