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On May 6, 2016, the Program in Jewish Studies along with family, friends, faculty and community members celebrated the accomplishments of the Jewish Studies class of 2015–2016. This year, we graduated six Jewish Studies majors, eight minors, and awarded two graduate student endorsements. We also honored our numerous scholarship, fellowship and award winners and interns.
All of our students are doing incredible things after graduation or with their awards. Scroll down to learn more!

Meet the 2015–2016 graduating class in Jewish Studies!

Majors in Jewish Studies

Alexis Brooke Aaeng

Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Jewish Studies and a Bachelor of Arts in History, magna cum laude. 
Capstone: Yiddishists Anonymous: A Modern Reimagination of a Classic Form of Yiddish Mass Media 
Alexis AaengAlexis’ capstone project, a Yiddish radio show broadcast supervised by Professor David Shneer, is the marriage of two of Alexis’ greatest loves: Yiddish and independent radio. She based this program on Yiddish radio variety shows of the 1930s and 1940s, which was also the topic of her honors thesis. She chose to focus on this period because it provided her with a radically different view of Jewish history. Looking at Yiddish-speaking Jews in the 1930s gives us access to a more joyful and life affirming form of Jewish expression. This program, which originally aired on April 7, 2016 on Radio 1190, featured a presentation and performance by Prof. David Shneer and Jewlia Eisenberg about their new project "Art is My Weapon," an original radio play performed by Will Rempel, Sally Simpson, Nate Marx, Scott Meyers, Dr. Zilla Goodman, and Alexis herself, and a live klezmer performance by The Horse Paws. After graduation, Alexis plans on spending the summer at the Steiner Summer Yiddish Program and serving an RA for the Great Jewish Books Program at the Yiddish Book Center. She has been selected as a 2016-2017 Fellow at the Yiddish Book center, and will spend next year as one of their full-time staff members.

David Thomas Coons

Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Jewish Studies and a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Arts with an emphasis in Photography and Digital Arts. 
Capstone: Contemporary Jewish Denver: The Reanimation of Historic Jewish Space 
David CoonsDavid’s capstone project, supervised by Professor David Shneer, captures the reanimation of three Jewish spaces in contemporary Denver, Colorado. He created a photo series of these Jewish spaces, which explores the ever-changing Denver Jewish community and how it has evolved since its inception in the late 19th century. These sites include the former Jewish Consumptives' Relief Society, an original building belonging to Temple Emanuel, and the Golden Hill Cemetery. After graduation, David plans to work with some of the connections he has made through his capstone project at The Temple in Denver, the site of an original building belonging to Temple Emanuel, with his photography and their photography archives. He is looking towards graduate art programs in the future with a focus in photography and fashion.


Michelle De Nardis

Graduating with a Major in Jewish Studies and a Minor in Hebrew and Israel Studies.
Capstone: How Did the Jewish Diaspora Begin? A Story in Three Parts 
Michelle De NardisFor her capstone project, supervised by Dr. Zilla Goodman, Michelle created a dramatization in short story form of early Jewish history from the time of the destruction of the first Temple and the creation of the first large Judean diaspora in Babylon to the Bar Kokhva revolt, written for young adults and intended to inspire interest and evoke dialogue about the perseverance of an uprooted people, who survived against incredible odds. The stories attempt to make history interesting and engaging, and to bring the past to life by creating dramatized narratives of the lives of individuals that feel more relevant to this age group than a mere recounting of history. Michelle’s motivation for pursuing this project was the fascinating history of the Jewish people and the desire to convey it in such a way that young people would be drawn into the pages of history and motivated to examine the Hebrew Bible for themselves. Post graduation info pending!


Benjamin Israel Sanders 

Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Jewish Studies. 
Capstone: Waking Up: Hebrew Letters Meditations
Benjamin SandersSupervised by Dr. Zilla Goodman, Ben created a book for his capstone project, which serves as a meditative prayer service to encompass and serve as a transformation of the ritual Jewish prayer service. As Judaism in the modern era continues to become more stratified and polarized, and with more and more Jews, especially young adults in American Jewry, requiring deeper meaning from traditional Judaism, this meditative prayer of the Hebrew letters serves as an iteration of the ritual service and as a new outlet for identification. This project has been inspired by Ben’s own Jewish trajectory, vision of the future of modern Judaism, and desire to work in the Jewish non-profit world upon graduation. After graduation, Ben will be leading a Birthright trip through Chabad, which he recruited for and planned. Ben plans to work in the Jewish non-profit world.


Paul Schirmer

Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Jewish Studies and a Bachelor of Arts in Music with a Minor in Business. 
Capstone: Musical Settings of the Psalms
Paul SchirmerSupervised by Professor Yonatan Malin, Paul’s capstone project took the form of original recorded songs. There are five compositions, which consist of Hebrew text taken directly from the Psalms and music of Paul’s own composition. Each composition was intentionally inspired by a different Jewish song type or context. Throughout the project, Paul was able to explore Hebrew Biblical poetry as well as modern and traditional forms of Jewish music and prayer, and the challenges of setting Hebrew text to music. His compositions were also informed by ethnographic accounts in books by Jeffrey Summit (The Lord’s Song in a Strange Land) and Kay Kaufman Shelemay (Let Jasmine Rain Down). After graduation, he plans to work in Boulder as a DJ and eventually pursue a career in Christian ministry.

Henry Ostrom White

Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Jewish Studies, Bachelor of Arts in Geography, and a Certificate in Peace and Conflict Studies. 
Capstone: Hineini
Henry WhiteFor his capstone project, supervised by Professor Elias Sacks, Henry created a small handbook on the concept of presence. His handbook may be used as a guide for exploring notions of presence as well as paths for connecting to God or HaShem in the Jewish tradition. It provides excerpts from three major works of modern Jewish philosophy by three leading Jewish thinkers of the 20th and 21st century: Abraham Joshua Heschel, Arthur Green, and Martin Buber. Supplementing these works, Henry included several psalms that invoke parallel themes and concepts. By using this handbook, the reader may wrestle with illuminating theories, obtain clarity regarding his or her own personal approach to presence, and/or even reach an individual level of connection with the Most High.  By reading three different yet quite similar perspectives on the idea of presence within Jewish thought, readers may discover notions that inspire spiritual growth, mindfulness, and awareness. After graduation Henry will be working for Adventures Cross Country, leading teenagers on adventure-based service work trips abroad. He plans to travel and is eventually pursue graduate school.

Minors in Jewish Studies

Michelle Christine Ferris

Michelle FerrisBachelor of Arts in Psychology, a Minor in Jewish Studies, and a Certificate in Cognitive Science. Graduating with Distinction. During her time at CU-Boulder, Michelle participated on the inaugural Global Seminar to Istanbul last summer 2015. After graduation, Michelle plans to continue her working with two labs on the CU-Boulder campus. She will work with a summer research grant in Dr. Joanna Arch's research lab, investigating the mechanisms and treatment for social anxiety disorder. She will also continue working in the Neuroscience of Thought and Emotion Lab.

Alex Kareene Giltz

Alex GiltzBachelor of Arts in History with a Minor in Jewish Studies. After graduation, on Saturday May 7th, Alex will commission as a Naval Officer from CU NROTC. She will then move to San Diego, California where she will begin her tour on the USS Coronado.


Emily Rose Goodman

Emily GoodmanBachelor of Arts in International Affairs with a Minor in Jewish Studies. After graduation, Emily plans to work as a Full Time Manager in Training at Free People and continue to pursue a design career for Jewish Orthodox and Muslim Women's fashion.




Rachel Brooke Rappaport

Rachel RappaportBachelor of Arts in Speech, Language, and Hearing Science with a Minor in Jewish Studies. After graduation Rachel plans on continuing to work for Imagine! which is a non-profit organization where she works with both children and adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities in a community based setting. During the next year she plans to apply to graduate school for speech pathology in order to eventually become a children’s speech pathologist, specializing in children with disabilities.

Kayla Eve Soskin

Kayla SoskinBachelor of Arts in News Editorial with an Emphasis in Public Relations, Communication, and a Minor in Jewish Studies. After graduation, Kayla will be pursuing a career in public relations for sports and entertainment.



Minors in Hebrew and Israel Studies

Aliza Gayelle Gold

Aliza GoldBachelor of Arts in German Studies, Minor in Hebrew and Israel Studies, and Certificate: Peace and Conflict Studies. Graduating with Distinction. After graduation, Aliza will be making Aliyah in August with Garin Tzabar, a lone soldier program, and will be going into the Israeli Defense Forces in November. After 2 to 3 years in the IDF, she would like to pursue a Masters degree in Peace and Conflict Resolution and continue on to pursue a career within that field, specifically working with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Michelle De Nardis

Michelle De NardisIn addition to a Major in Jewish Studies, Michelle completed a Minor in Hebrew and Israel Studies.






Jeffrey Silverstein

Bachelor of Arts in Film Studies and Minor in Hebrew and Israel Studies.

Graduate Endorsements in Jewish Studies

Kathryn Agnes Huether

Master of Arts in Religious Studies, Graduate Endorsement in Jewish Studies. Thesis Title: Hearing the Holocaust: Music, Film, Aesthetics
Kathryn HuetherKathryn’s MA thesis examines the role that sonic mediums play in the production of affective response in regards to Holocaust film documentaries. Next Fall, Kathryn will begin a PhD program in Musicology at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, MN where she has been awarded a full scholarship and will be working with Musicologist and Religious Studies Scholar Dr. Karen Painter as her primary advisor. In addition to her studies and teaching appointment at the University of Minnesota, Kathryn will also be working as a research assistant at the University of Minnesota’s Holocaust and Genocide Center. This summer, following the defense of her thesis, Kathryn will be attending NYU Steinhardt’s Music and Moving Images Conference in New York City, presenting a paper based on a chapter in her thesis. In addition, Kathryn has been awarded a Kathryn Davis Fellowship for Peace which provides her with full room, board, and tuition to attend one of Middlebury College’s Language Schools in Middlebury, VT. Kathryn will use her fellowship to attend the German Language College, studying advanced German.

Nicholas Lee Underwood

PhD in History, Graduate Endorsement in Jewish Studies. Dissertation Title: Staging a New Community: Immigrant Yiddish Culture and Diaspora Nationalism in Interwar Paris, 1919-1940
Nick UnderwoodNick’s dissertation is a cultural history of immigrant Yiddish-speaking Jews from Eastern Europe in interwar France. Based on archival research in Paris, Frankfurt, New York, Amsterdam, and Tel Aviv, he shows that it was in interwar France–the supposed home of an assimilationist model of national belonging–that Yiddish-speaking culture makers created an alternative Yiddishist and Jewish Diaspora Nationalist identity. Using sources ranging from Yiddish theatre and chorus documents to Yiddish-, French-, and German-language newspapers, Jewish cultural institutions' records, and French police reports, Nick demonstrates how cultural production brought together Jewish, French, and antifascist cultural norms in a way that helped Jews who immigrated to Paris from Eastern Europe define their community. This new communal sensibility enabled these immigrant Jews to plant roots of resistance that would carry through Vichy and the occupation of France. Nick has dedicated his dissertation to the memory of his father Ronald Lee Underwood (1942-2009) and mother-in-law Nancy (“Chooch") Kaplan (1944-2010). After graduation, Nick will continue on as Project Manager for the Digital Yiddish Theatre Project and serve as Managing Editor for East European Jewish Affairs. In Fall 2016, he will teach Yiddish DILS for CU, and in spring, he will teach Modern European Jewish history at Sonoma State University.