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Berman Foundation Dissertation Fellowships
in Support of Research in the Social Scientific Study of the Contemporary American Jewish Community

Directed by the Association for Jewish Studies

The Association for Jewish Studies congratulates the recipients of the 2014-2015 Berman Foundation Dissertation Fellowships in Support of Research in the Social Scientific Study of the Contemporary American Jewish Community:

JAY (KOBY) OPPENHEIM, Department of Sociology, The Graduate Center of the City University of New York
'Once Removed': A Comparative Study of ‘Russian Jews’ in New York and Berlin

Mr. Oppenheim’s dissertation explores the experiences of children of immigrants from the wave of Russian-speaking Jewish immigration to the U.S. and Germany from 1989 onward. Between 300,000 and 500,000 immigrants arrived in the U.S. and an additional 200,000 resettled in Germany. The transition of outsiders to insiders, of integrating or assimilating into a new society, involves lengthy and often vexing negotiation of social and symbolic boundaries. The project focuses on the complex of experiences that characterize the construction of ethnic identity in immigrant-receiving societies, capitalizing on the divergent trajectories of this group to undertake a comparative analysis of identity formation in both Europe and the United States.

EMILY SIGALOW, Departments of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies & Sociology, Brandeis University
Intersecting Traditions: The Jewish Encounter with Buddhism since 1893

Ms. Sigalow’s dissertation, "Intersecting Traditions: the Jewish Encounter with Buddhism since 1893," contributes to the understanding of the growing religious syncretism of American Jews. Through observation of eighteen related Jewish and Buddhist organizations and over eighty in-depth interviews with Jewish people from these organizations, Sigalow develops a framework distinguishing converts, practitioners, enriched and seekers, which illuminates the different types of contacts Jews have with Buddhism, and will be a useful tool to understanding contacts between Jews and other religions, as well. The research also sheds light on the impact of Buddhism on a wide range of Jewish practices.

The AJS also recognizes the following projects, which received honorable mention:

SCHNEUR ZALMAN NEWFIELD, Department of Sociology, New York University
Degrees of Separation: Patterns of Personal Identity Formation Beyond Boundaries of Ultra-Orthodox Judaism

Mr. Newfield’s dissertation, "Degrees of Separation: Patterns of Personal Identity Formation Beyond Boundaries of Ultra-Orthodox Judaism," focuses on the bridges between the Lubavitch and Satmar communities and the outside world through interviews with sixty members of the Lubavitch and Satmar communities on the subject of their process of “distancing” themselves from their ultra-Orthodox communities.

ROTTEM SAGI, Department of Sociology, University of California-Irvine
Who’s in My Bed: Strange Bedfellows in the American Pro-Israel Movement

Ms. Sagi’s dissertation, “Who’s in my Bed: Strange Bedfellows in the American Pro-Israel Movement,” contributes organizational and social movement perspectives to understanding the American pro-Israel movement in both historical and contemporary contexts. Ms. Sagi’s development of a database of over seven-hundred Jewish American organizations’ purpose statements, as well as archival research and in-depth interviews, promotes an organizational analysis which is rare and needed in the social scientific study of American Jewry.

Support for this project is generously provided by the Mandell L. and Madeleine H. Berman Foundation.