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The Fern and Manfred Steinfeld Scholarship in Judaic Studies

  1. Applicants for the Fern and Manfred Steinfeld Scholarship in Judaic Studies must be currently enrolled at or admitted to attend the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and pursuing an interdisciplinary major concentration in Judaic Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences.
  2. Applicants must be declared Judaic Studies majors or minors.
  3. Applicants must demonstrate successful academic performance, with a GPA of 3.0 in the major.
  4. Financial need may be considered.

Applications are now being accepted for The Fern and Manfred Steinfeld Scholarship in Judaic Studies at the University of Tennessee. CLICK HERE to download the MS Word Document. Please complete it and submit electronically to the chair of the Scholarship Committee, Dr. Helene Sinnreich, by February 17, 2017.

Recipients

Click the year to view the recipients.

Hannah Bowling

Hannah  BowlingWhen I first travelled to Israel, in 2012, my life was changed. Forever. I cannot put into words the experiences I had during this trip. This trip was not a tourist vacation; this was an experience that allowed me to build strong connections with so many Israelis. Through volunteering that summer at Kaplan Medical Center, and then once again this past summer, my love for Israel and the Jewish people intensified. I was able to see how these people lived, hurt, celebrated, believed, accepted and tolerated.

While seeking other ways to serve the Jewish people, such as volunteering at Heska Amuna, learning the Hebrew language, attending local synagogues, and hosting a T-shirt fund raiser, I happened to find out about majoring in Judaic Studies. I immediately changed my major the same day I learned about it. I have many plans and goals for this major, and future expectations.


Kimberly Mizell

Kimberly MizellAs a child, I learned about Ancient Jews from a Protestant point of view. I was intrigued by the temple, stories, and people. I had a foundation of some of the holidays and rituals. As a college student, I visited Temple B'Nai Israel in Jackson, Tennessee. Through more learning and Dr. Schmidt's classes I have found a love for learning about the Jewish peoples that reside in all places on Earth.

I am excited to use this minor to help future students to understand the past and present culture of Jews. I will use what I have learned through Voices of the Holocaust to share what I learned from survivors. I will share what Mira Kimmelman taught me through her book: each generation is the future and must not allow another holocaust to happen.


Taylor Thomas

Taylor ThomasI began to forge my new path when Dr. Shepardson introduced me to Dr. Erin Darby—someone with interests strikingly similar to my own, whom I have grown to both respect and admire. Under Dr. Darby, I began studying in the departments of Religious Studies and Judaic Studies, focusing on Israelite and early Jewish religion. I have gone on to pursue such research topics as figurine-use in Persian Period Yehud, Babylonian influence upon religious life of diasporic Jewish communities, the transition from henotheism to monotheism in the ancient world, and the role of asherah in Israelite religion, engaging research for my honors thesis, representing the Humanities for the Undergraduate Research Student Association Executive Board, and presenting my research at undergraduate conferences.

Click here to read about Taylor's visits Albright Institute in Israel.


James Farris

James  FarrisI am a senior Psychology major, minoring in Judaic Studies. I continue to take classes to learn new things, to explore the unfamiliar, and to bring understanding to that which I had known but not truly understood. It was through the fascination of learning that I enrolled in a Judaic Studies class last fall, Contemporary Jewish Thinkers taught by Dr. Gilya Schmidt. Through the readings in class, I discovered why my mother's family had left Wurttemberg in 1781 to come to America, why they changed their name, and why my mother probably never knew she was Jewish, although now I know that many of our family traditions were actually Jewish traditions. A minor in Judaic Studies will allow me to deepen my understanding of the Jewish tradition and bring them into my everyday life.


Mia Strong

Mia  StrongAlthough originally a student of Philosophy, my passion for the subject of Judaic Studies has led me to declare a Religious Studies major with a minor in Judaic Studies. I have a significant interest in researching Jewish Mysticism and objective morality and I hope to inspire others toward mindful living. As I plan for the future, I am aware that I cannot know exactly where life's journey will take me, but I strive to ask questions and remain mindful of life's possibilities using self-reflection and prayer to guide my journey.

Amanda Alarcon

Amanda  AlarconA Holocaust survivor came to speak to my eighth-grade class to tell us about her experiences. The details of the atrocities that took place were heartbreaking and astounding to me as I had never previously heard much about the Holocaust. Nothing resonated with me more than the strength and resilience of this woman. As I left the class that day, I thought "How could this happen?"

Coming to UT as a History major, I took my first Judaic Studies course, Religious Studies/Judaic Studies 386: Voices of the Holocaust with Dr. Schmidt. The class shaped my life and solidified what I wanted to do with it: become a professor in Holocaust Studies. The class profoundly shaped and expanded what I previously thought I knew about the Holocaust and Judaism's history.

Taking other classes offered at UT, such as German/Judaic Studies 350: The Afterlife of the Holocaust and History 373: The History of the Holocaust, has shown me how deeply rooted anti-Semitism was prior to the Holocaust and how it shaped the events and ideologies that led to the Holocaust. I decided to become a Judaic Studies minor to further my knowledge of Judaism as a religion and its resilience throughout time—specifically during the Holocaust. This school year I will be completing my honors senior thesis on violence against women during the Holocaust and plan to attend the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to view the archives for a portion of this research.


Lily Dropkin

Lily DropkinAs I got older, I became involved in my Jewish community's Sunday school. I worked as a teaching assistant for four years and enjoyed it immensely. I continued teaching for several institutions and was eventually promoted to a full teacher in my congregation's Hebrew program. Yet, I still resisted the idea of considering myself a teacher. I wanted, instead, to study Judaism or English. A friend that I worked with while teaching once mentioned that she thought that I would be a good teacher. As she had been a teacher before retiring, I started to think seriously about a career in teaching. Eventually, I came to a conclusion. I love teaching, and really can't imagine doing anything else with my life. Teaching is what I feel that I am good at, and it allows me to incorporate my interests.

Click here to read about Lily's visits Israel.


James Farris

James  FarrisI am a senior Psychology major, minoring in Judaic Studies. I continue to take classes to learn new things, to explore the unfamiliar, and to bring understanding to that which I had known but not truly understood. It was through the fascination of learning that I enrolled in a Judaic Studies class last fall, Contemporary Jewish Thinkers taught by Dr. Gilya Schmidt. Through the readings in class, I discovered why my mother's family had left Wurttemberg in 1781 to come to America, why they changed their name, and why my mother probably never knew she was Jewish, although now I know that many of our family traditions were actually Jewish traditions. A minor in Judaic Studies will allow me to deepen my understanding of the Jewish tradition and bring them into my everyday life.


Mia Strong

Mia  StrongAlthough originally a student of Philosophy, my passion for the subject of Judaic Studies has led me to declare a Religious Studies major with a minor in Judaic Studies. I have a significant interest in researching Jewish Mysticism and objective morality and I hope to inspire others toward mindful living. As I plan for the future, I am aware that I cannot know exactly where life's journey will take me, but I strive to ask questions and remain mindful of life's possibilities using self-reflection and prayer to guide my journey.

Emma Hicks

Emma HicksAs a member of the College Scholars Program, I have designed my own major in Holocaust and Genocide Studies. Previously as a history major I found myself perpetually drawn to the history of the Holocaust and the devastating effect of this catastrophic event on the previously rich Jewish culture and memory in Europe. During my years pursuing this major I have had the opportunity to study abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, and see many of the major post-Holocaust historical and commemorative landmarks scattered across Europe. Being able to visit these places, experience the history, and meet the people there has vastly broadened my understanding of the implications of the Holocaust on various European nations and the Jewish culture remaining there today.

My experiences abroad also greatly influenced my senior thesis project titled, "Speaking the Unspeakable," which focuses on different media of Holocaust commemoration. In this project I am particularly interested in the ways memory is portrayed, the layers of cultural victimization, the political difficulties in Holocaust commemoration, and the importance of eyewitness testimony. This project was presented in the form of a narrative historical exhibit open to the public from April 10-13, 2014.

Nikki Swartwood

Nikki Swartwood"By studying the development of the Jewish civilization, one is able to gauge the changes throughout the Western world. Jews were a displaced people, and their movements and treatment are telling of the world that surrounded them. Furthermore, analysis of the historic dealings with Jews provides an insight valuable for the exploration of minorities in the modern world. These groups and the behavior toward them can be better evaluated through comparison with the trends in Jewish history.

Despite an undergraduate concentration in the scientific fields, I have taken several academic measures to ensure a solid foundation for my exploration into Judaic Studies, especially within Germany and Eastern Europe. I have studied the languages and histories of these geographic locations and have gained an intellectual framework in which my studies of Judaism are placed.

Regardless of which graduate program is selected, studying this history and culture will never end—as cliché as it may be, my passion for the subject and my love for learning will always provide the kindling."

Read about Nikki's recent trip to Jerusalem and her work in Jordan on the 'Ayn Gharandal Archaeological Project here!

Naima Cortez

Naima Cortez"Judaism is an ancient religion that has a distinctive history. When I took the 'Voices of the Holocaust' class with Dr. Schmidt, it initiated an interest in the religion and also raised some questions about it. One of the questions was, How did the Jews keep their faith knowing that their lives would be taken away? They never rejected their religion, and that stood out to me. I enjoy reading about Jewish points of view on life, as well as on animals. The knowledge that I have gained from that information has become dear to me and has become a motivation to see the world differently. I have learned that the dedication that Jews have for Judaism is very heart warming. The Judaism classes taught me that the Jewish community is close knit. I was able to see this unity when I attended the synagogue. I was very well welcomed by the community and felt very comfortable. Judaism has contributed many ideas and beliefs that I am able to apply to my life. For example, when I learned about Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in class, I was motivated to reevaluate myself and my actions."


Amanda Capannola

Amanda Capannola"Even before I decided to pursue Judaic Studies in my academic career, I have been interested in Jewish culture. In 2008, I took a year off to reassess my life goals and prepare for a move from Middle Tennessee State University to the University of Tennessee. It was during this time that I began to realize my passion for religious studies, specifically the Jewish tradition. My studies began casually, as I read books about and by Jewish people, but they soon developed into a much deeper desire to learn everything I could about the culture. I even went so far as to attempt to learn Hebrew through worksheets aimed for elementary students. It wasn't until my orientation at UT in the fall of 2010 that I realized that Judaic Studies was even a possible concentration in academia. I have decided to make it my secondary major. I have found that Judaism, in academic and spiritual settings, speaks to me in a way no other subject does. I am also majoring in American Studies, and I will graduate in December 2012. Afterwards, I am hoping to attend graduate school to study the intersection of American and Jewish cultures."

Amanda graduated in December 2012.


Chris Whaley

Chris Whaley"In order to be a Religious Studies major, I believe that one must also be a student of history, culture, and language. I have spent a great deal of personal time studying the New Testament and the Hebrew Bible. I have found that many people choose to ignore the Hebrew Bible and lack understanding. This helped me to shift my focus. I wanted a clearer understanding of all the treasures that the Hebrew Bible held and found no sufficient answers. My plans with the degree are to go on to graduate school. I would like to focus on the Hebrew Bible and stay with Judaic Studies as I work towards a doctorate. My desire is to teach at the college level because teaching is my passion. I want to provide others with something that I missed out on for the first thirty years of my life: a knowledge of the beautiful Jewish culture."

Mark Kline

Mark KlineWhy Judaic Studies? My interest in Judaism and Jewish culture began approximately 15 years ago as an informal personal search for a workable perspective to understanding humanity's function and place in the world. In the spring of 2007 this journey culminated in my conversion to Judaism. The opportunity to study the history, religion and culture of the Jewish faith and society in a structured setting is therefore very appealing personally.

In conjunction with this personal search, my hope is to eventually teach at the college level in an area related to my current interests.

Historically, the Jewish Faith and Culture is the only non-indigenous group in western society that can trace it's origins to the beginning of recorded history in ancient Sumeria.
This unique position provides a continuous thread by which to study the development of western social and religious histories. Jewish religion and culture also provides a bridging of east and west as a conduit of ideas and practices.

Religiously, a thorough understanding of Judaism, its origins, history and adaptations is applicable for understanding either Christianity or Islam. Knowledge of the Jewish faith and culture allows a deeper appreciation of the context in which these faiths began and how they developed as outgrowths of, and responses to, Judaism and its social setting.

Politically, modern society is witnessing a disturbing re-emergence of ethnic racism and anti-Semitism. It has once again become vogue in certain circles and cultures to blame the Jews and other minorities for any and all economic and social ills. The spread of The Protocols and the accusation of the blood libel as historically valid is one aspect of this re-emergence. The exposure of these long lived and recurring slanders can effectively be countered through education if the instructor has an understanding of why such teachings are so attractive in the first place, is familiar with their history, and can de-legitimize them in terms understood by the propagators themselves.

Mark graduated in Spring 2011 with an Interdisciplinary Major in Judaic Studies.  He is currently attending graduate school in Information Science at UT.

Rich Adams

Rich AdamsRich Adams is a senior in Judaic Studies with a Spanish minor at the University of Tennessee.  He is 25 years old and lives on Sutherland Avenue with his wife of three years, Natali.  He speaks three languages fluently and is working on his fourth, Hebrew.  Rich is applying for admission in the Middle-Eastern Studies program at the University of Utah where he plans on an emphasis in the Hebrew language, history and literature.  He enjoys swimming, movies and the mountains, although there is not much time for these with his course-load of 21 hours and active service in his church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Rich graduated with a major in Judaic Studies in May of 2010. Congratulations!


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