This article appeared in the August 15, 2003 Jewish Advocate.



Hadassah Brandeis Institute Hosts Summer Internship Program


By Susie Davidson

Advocate Correspondent


“What I did on my summer vacation” takes on remarkable meaning for Hadassah-Brandeis Institute interns. Over the past five years, a select group of international students have furthered their interests in Women's Studies, Jewish Women's Studies, or issues relating to Jewish women at the HBI’s Lily Safra Summer Internship Program. With an eye toward the future and a global outlook, the two-month immersion aims to both enhance individual knowledge and experience and connect worldwide efforts.


“The goal of the Safra Program is to provide participants with varied opportunities to learn about Jewish women's studies scholars and centers,” said HBI Communications Director Nancy F. Vineberg, who explained that interns assist with ongoing research HBI projects and develop their own projects. “We aim to develop international networks of Jewish women scholars and community leaders,” said Vineberg, who holds a masters of arts degree from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, and who recently served as Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee's Greater Seattle office.


Funded by the Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation, the program selects three or four college or graduate students per summer. Each works 35 paid and five unpaid hours per week, receives a stipend toward housing, and works with HBI researchers on projects and administrative duties. Interns also meet with Jewish Women’s Studies professors and participate in field trips and outings to area research institutions, libraries, and archives. “This year’s interns are working with HBI staff on projects exploring Jewish reproduction, teen Jewish educational choices, a midrash of Eyshet Chayil, Jewish women athletes, and international bat mitzvah programs,” said Vineberg, noting that the group includes a non-Jewish Polish undergraduate and an Israeli doctoral student who just published her first book, which can be viewed at


“Their individual projects are an opportunity to delve into an area of Jewish women's studies of interest to them,” she continued, explaining that each intern is expected to produce a work of some type which reflects their experience in the program. “It can be a website, an academic paper, a short story; something that draws on their creative as well as their intellectual energies,” she said. Notable past projects have included a resource guide for Bat Mitzvah girls, a Jewish Women’s Health bibliography, and a short film about the spiritual significance associated with making challah.


“I am analyzing interviews with Jewish women leaders from around the world,” said intern Katarzyna Cieslik, a psychology major at two Polish universities in Warsaw and in Krakow. “I am examining how these women reached their present positions and how they see the future of Jewish life in their countries.”


“I have just published my first book, Aron Betoch Aron, or ‘The Closet Within a Closet,’ a study of Israeli Orthodox gays and lesbians,” said Irit Koren, a gender studies doctoral student at Bar Ilan University in Israel. “My research focuses on cross sections of gender and Judaism, and my dissertation will be on the Jewish wedding ritual,” she said.


“My studies at Mount Holyoke College, where I am majoring in Critical Social Thought, are centered on Identity Formation,” said intern Naomi Goldberg, who is studying fertility in the American Jewish community. “The ability to be doing research in a Jewish context was very relevant,” she added. “For my independent project, I am working on creating two pamphlets which will serve the Jewish community, one for Jewish GLBT youth and one for their parents.”


Other 2003 Safra Interns are Rosie Davis, Bates College; Suzy Levy, Brandeis University; and Dena Weisberg, University of Pennsylvania.


Established at Brandeis in 1997 as the first university-based research institute studying both historic and contemporary Jewish women from around the world, the HBI works with other universities and organizations in their ongoing efforts. It is co-directed by Shulamit Reinharz, who holds a Ph.D. from Brandeis, where she created its program on the prevention of violence against women, is a Professor of Sociology at the University, and is married to Brandeis president Jehuda Reinharz.


Sylvia Barack Fishman, assistant professor at Brandeis’ Near Eastern and Judaic Studies Department, also co-directs the Institute. Adjunct Assistant Professor in Anthropology and Near Eastern and Judaic Studies

Susan M. Kahn is the Senior Research Director; Helene Greenberg, who holds an M.Ed. in Educational Administration, is the Program Administrator, and Debby Olins, with a master of arts degree from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, is its Special Projects and Research Associate.


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