Ph.D. candidate James Loeffler, alumna Alisa Braun, and former student Jessica Cooperman are among the six outstanding young scholars in Jewish history who have been selected to receive the first Center for Jewish History Fellowships. Each student currently is engaged in research for his or her doctoral dissertation using the archival and library resources at the Center.
The fellowships, made possible by grants from two private foundations, carry an award of $10,000 for a 10-month period beginning in September. Each fellow is expected to spend two full days per week conducting research in the Center's Lillian Goldman Reading Room, and will be required to deliver a one-hour presentation to the Center's professional staff. They also will be called upon to assist the Center and its partner institutions with various activities in archival research.
Loeffler's dissertation is entitled "The Role of Music as a Means of Jewish Social and Cultural Modernization in Late Imperial Russia." He was the recipient of a research grant from the Ford Foundation to study Yiddish musical and comedy traditions, and served as acting sound archivist for the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in 1999.
Loeffler will conduct research in the archives of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, the Leo Baeck Institute and the American Jewish Archives as he seeks to pursue a social history of Jewish music and musicians in the later Imperial period of Russian history, to explore several interlocking cultural institutions and social structures that were central to the rise of Jewish musicians within the mainstream of Russian culture.
Braun is pursuing her Ph.D. at the University of Michigan, and her dissertation is entitled "Becoming Authorities: Jews, Writing and the Dynamics of Literary Affiliation, 1890-1940." For the academic year 2002-03, Braun is also the recipient of the Rose and Isidore Drench Fellowship from YIVO.
Her dissertation will explore the relationship between four Jewish writers -- Abraham Cahan, Morris Rosenfeld, Henry Roth and Fannie Hurst -- and their mentors/patrons. Her research efforts at the Center will focus on the Henry Roth papers in the collections of the American Jewish Historical Society and the Abraham Cahan papers, as well as the extensive newspaper and periodical collections, of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.
Cooperman is pursuing her Ph.D. at New York University, with a project entitled "The Jewish Diaspora and the First World War: Germany and the United States." She is also the recipient of a fellowship, for September 2001 to June 2003, from The Remarque Institute of New York University.
Cooperman primarily will conduct her research in the holdings of the American Jewish Historical Society and the Leo Baeck Institute. She will examine the challenges faced by the German and American Jewish communities during what was a period of intense nationalism and global military conflict, studying what this conflict meant to Jews loyal to their diasporic homelands.
The Center for Jewish History has emerged from a vision of a unique central resource for the cultural and historical legacy of the Jewish people. The Center embodies the partnership of five major institutions of Jewish scholarship, history and art: American Jewish Historical Society, American Sephardi Federation, Leo Baeck Institute, Yeshiva University Museum and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. The Center serves the worldwide academic and general communities with combined holdings of approximately 100 million archival documents, a half-million books, and tens of thousands of photographs, artifacts, paintings and textiles -- the largest repository documenting the Jewish experience outside of Israel.