In Act I, Scene 1 of the Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman play, “You Can’t Take It With You,” the character known as Grandpa, the patriarch of the eccentric Vanderhof family, returns home after attending the graduation ceremony at Columbia University, which he does every year for the sheer fun of it. “Well sir, you should have been there,” he announces. “That’s all I can say—you should have been there.”
Allow me to echo Grandpa’s words. The Program in Jewish Studies graduated 14 undergraduates, one Master’s student, and our very first PhD student on May 6, 2016, and “you should have been there.” Our six graduating majors discussed their capstone projects, which ranged from the creation of original books of meditation and tales to a series of photographs of repurposed Jewish building sites to an original musical composition for the psalms to an original radio play. Our six graduating minors were also celebrated and, like our majors, are going on to do amazing things next year. Our MA student, Kathryn Huether, whose thesis, “Hearing the Holocaust,” blended her interests in music and Jewish Studies will be pursuing a PhD in musicology next year and our PhD student, Nicholas Underwood, whose dissertation was on Yiddish culture in interwar Paris, will be teaching history next year in California.
Our students garnered many prizes, and the ceremony that revolved around them made their accomplishments clear. It also made clear the reciprocity of respect and admiration that exists between our students and our faculty and with family, friends, and community members in attendance, it helped to reinforce the phenomenal warmth and energy that emanates from the people who make up the Program in Jewish Studies at CU. It was a wonderful way to end a wonderful year. And “that’s all I can say.”
Best wishes for a relaxing and productive summer.
Nan Goodman, PhD, JD
Director of the Program in Jewish Studies and Professor of English