On Being a Center for Jewish History Doctoral Fellow
Tue, 05/03/2011

Surrounded by Jewish conversion records from the Lithuanian Ecclesiastical Consistory, maps of the Pale of Jewish Settlement from the Evreiskaia Entsiklopedia (Jewish Encyclopedia, St. Petersburg, 1906-13), and secondary literature on imperial Russian Jewry, I comfortably settled into a year of dissertation research and writing at the Center for Jewish History in 2007-2008. My doctoral research explored the social history of apostates in nineteenth-century Russian-Jewish society against the backdrop of a multi-confessional empire that both valued and vigilantly regulated religious affiliation.

I proudly count myself as part of a cohort of young scholars who have been groomed by the Center to enter the field of Jewish Studies. The fellowship program granted me extended access to a top American Jewish research institute, forums for public lectures with critical respondents and a wonderful network of aspiring scholars nurtured over daily lunches and conference reunions.

My time at the Center was punctuated by archival discoveries, helpful goading to “start writing” by my more advanced doctoral colleagues and daily delights at seeing the most esteemed scholars of Jewish Studies sitting in the reading room. In particular, I benefited from the extensive archives of the YIVO Institute, a brainchild of twentieth-century Yiddishists who had the foresight to collect and preserve documents of the richness and diversity of East European Jewry.

Having received my doctorate in modern Jewish history from the University of Pennsylvania and moving on into the profession of Jewish Studies at Emory University, I recognize with gratitude the generosity and support of the Center for Jewish History.

Fellowships at the Center for Jewish History

The Center works actively to foster and advance scholarship, to expand the reach of the rich collections of its partners and to impact the wide world of Jewish studies scholarship. Working with an elite group of academic advisors, the Center continues to expand its offerings and to further engage the public in its scholarly work. 

In addition to the Graduate Fellowship and Seminar Program, which is designed to foster the intellectual growth of young scholars, a program which to date has cultivated hundreds of Fellows from a wide range of renowned universities and programs from around the world, the Center has continued to expand its fellowship offerings. This past year has seen the successful launch of the National Endowment for the Humanities Senior Fellow – a one-year fellowship for a tenured  faculty member of a major university; the Steinberg Fellowship for Emerging Documentary Filmmakers, which supports the efforts of burgeoning documentary filmmakers by providing funding and access to collections housed at the Center; and the Vivian G. Prins Fund for Immigrating Scholars, which is designed to foster young foreign scholars seeking permanent research or faculty positions at North American institutions. In the next year, the Center will also launch a series of fellowships targeting outstanding undergraduate students. www.research.cjh.org