Yeshiva University News » 2009 » May » 26

May 26, 2009 — Bat-Sheva Maslow’s graduation from Albert Einstein College of Medicine represents not only the end of her formal medical education, but the conclusion of four turbulent years of complex choices and unexpected rewards. The 27-year-old’s extraordinary, against-all-odds story highlights her tenacity, perseverance and focus during difficult times.

The first year of medical school is demanding for any student, but for Maslow, there were added complications. Soon after she and her husband Jon arrived on campus, he was diagnosed with Stage IV Hodgkin’s disease (lymphoma). They decided to pursue aggressive therapy and Jon responded well to treatment.

“Einstein was extraordinarily accommodating, particularly Dr. [Nadine] Katz [associate dean of students] in helping me manage my course load and my personal obligations. I was able to finish first and second year without any issues or delays.”

Once Jon was in good health, the two decided to start their family. During her final year at Einstein, while juggling a busy clerkship, Maslow became pregnant with twins. Due to a variety of factors, it was a high-risk pregnancy. “Thankfully, Aderet and Tehlia were born beautiful and healthy and no one was happier to meet them than Dr. Katz,” she said.

Maslow’s personal experiences have informed her career choice; she will begin her residency in obstetric-gynecology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Next profile: Vikram Padmanabhan Writes About the Art of Practicing Medicine


May 26, 2009 — When JD graduate Alison Brill started her studies at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, she already had more real-world experience with the criminal justice system than many attorneys.

As an anthropology undergraduate at Cornell University, Brill taught a literature class in an adult maximum-security prison. The experience inspired her to “stop studying systemic injustice and actually work to change it,” she said.

After graduating, she worked with men and women re-entering society from prison and then took the next step: a legal education leading to a career as a criminal defense attorney.

Throughout her undergraduate and graduate years, Brill built a head-turning resume that helped her land a one-year clerkship with New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Barry T. Albin, starting in September 2009.

At Cardozo, she co-founded the Criminal Justice Society, Prisoners’ Rights Advocacy and Incarcerated Mothers Law Project. She participated in the Intensive Trial Advocacy Program and a January 2008 study-abroad seminar in Rwanda and Tanzania on “Justice and Reconciliation in Post-Conflict Rwanda.”

But a few Cardozo activities in particular had personal significance, said the native of New York City. During the 2008 presidential elections, she joined a group of 40 Cardozo students in Ohio who monitored the polls.

“During this long day, speaking with local voters and witnessing the complications of ensuring adequate procedures to protect the right to vote, I felt the awesome responsibility of being a lawyer in this society,” Brill said.

As an intern at Cardozo’s Criminal Defense and Innocence Project legal clinics, she helped perform significant legal work on pre-trial misdemeanor and post-conviction felony cases. Representing clients in need alongside other committed advocates “is the reason I came to law school and why I want to be a lawyer.”

Next profile: Sigit Ardianto, whose Cardozo courses inspired him to improve legal education in his native Indonesia.


May 26, 2009 — For Aaron Koller ’99Y, ’00BR, a PhD graduate from Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies, there is no substitution for reading a work in its original language—even if it is an ancient Semitic language such as Akkadian or Egyptian hieroglyphs.

“The truth is that there are other languages I’d like to know, but ‘the day is short and the labor vast,’” Koller said, quoting the famous line in Pirkei Avot [Ethics of the Fathers].

Koller, an assistant professor of Jewish studies at Yeshiva College, wrote his dissertation on the cutting tools and verbs of cutting used in the Bible and the Ancient Near East.

“My research ranged from Natufian agriculture [spanning the period 12,500 to 9,500 BC] and Neolithic tool use, through ancient Near Eastern textual and archaeological data, to rabbinic and medieval Biblical interpretation,” said Koller, who comes from a family rich with YU connections. “My focus on specific words sheds light on larger issues, such as cultural connections between Israel and its neighbors—Egypt, the Philistines and Mesopotamia–and changes in Israelite technology and society between biblical and rabbinic times.”

Koller’s research won high praise from Dr. Lawrence Stager, Dorot Professor of the Archeology of Israel at Harvard University, who served on Koller’s dissertation committee and recommended it be awarded a distinction.

Koller traces his interests in ancient languages, history and culture to his Revel mentors, Dr. Richard Steiner, professor of Semitic languages and literatures, and Dr. Barry Eichler, professor of Near Eastern and biblical studies.

“Aaron is on his way to becoming a world-class scholar,” Steiner said. “He is an outstanding product of our institution of whom we can be very proud.”

Next profile: Ferkauf graduate attends to mental health needs of her fellow Korean immigrants


May 26, 2009 — Jeremy Antar had a job in advertising sales at AOL Media Networks in New York City, but left after one year to become a social worker.

“I have always been interested in social work,” said the Great Neck, NY native who graduated from Wurzweiler School of Social Work with a concentration in casework. “I thought that I would fulfill that interest with volunteer and part-time work as I had done throughout my life.”

With the support of family and friends, Antar enrolled at Wurzweiler because it “had a good reputation and I thought that the small class size would make for an enriched learning environment.” He also was offered a partial scholarship, which made Wurzweiler a more affordable choice.

Antar’s field work focus this spring was in palliative care at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Brooklyn, a far cry from his previous field experience working with children and adolescents in a school-based health center.

“Most of my prior experience had been working with children and adolescents,” said Antar, who did volunteer work with children at the Ann Arbor JCC while an undergraduate at the University of Michigan. “However, I really enjoyed working at the VA this year, and would definitely consider working with the veteran population in the future.”

As one of the chosen student representatives at Wurzweiler’s hooding ceremony, Antar addressed his fellow graduates about dedication to their new profession.

“While we all have different populations that we want to work with and different areas of social work that we are interested in,” he said, “what we all have in common is that we enjoy and are passionate about our work.”

Next profile: Aaron Koller, graduate of Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish studies, finds clues in ancient Semitic culture that shed brighter light on Israelite society


May 26, 2009 — If Indonesia someday has a new, world-class law school, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law can claim partial credit.

That’s because Sigit Ardianto, a graduate of Cardozo’s LLM program and a Dean’s Merit Scholar, was inspired by his classes and professors to take his new knowledge back home to Jakarta and work for improvements in legal education and the legal system there.

“My dream is to establish a new progressive law school in Indonesia that could meet international legal education standards, and perhaps mimic Cardozo’s success,” said Ardianto.

A 2003 law graduate of the State University of Padjadjaran in West Java, Ardianto was an associate at DNC Law in Jakarta and an emerging legal scholar in his homeland before coming to Cardozo. He was most influenced during his year at Cardozo by Michel Rosenfeld, the Justice Sydney L. Robins Professor of Human Rights, whom he calls “brilliant,” and by Rosenfeld’s Comparative Constitutionalism course.

A Muslim, Ardianto enjoyed Professor David Bleich’s Introduction to Jewish Law course, finding some surprising similarities between Jewish and Islamic religious law. He was also impressed by Professor Marci Hamilton’s First Amendment course, which motivated him to do more in raising awareness of the need for “constitutional complaint” in Indonesia, and which he hopes to use as a model for a similar class in Indonesia.

His greatest accomplishment at Cardozo? “As a person from a relatively modest background, being able to pursue a master’s degree in such a fine school,” Ardianto said. “And doing it in the greatest city in the world.”

Next profile: Wurzweiler graduate Jeremy Antar changes course from media ad sales to social work.


May 26, 2009 — It is hardly surprising that Grace Charles, this year’s valedictorian of Stern College for Women, graduate of the S. Daniel Abraham Honors Program and recipient of the Professor Moses L. Isaacs Memorial Award for Excellence in Biochemistry, has a knack for science. Her mother studied medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and her grandfather is a chemical expert on the highly toxic chemical methyl isocyanate, who was sent to Bhopal, India in the 1980’s to investigate a poisonous gas leak.

Charles, who will attend Mount Sinai School of Medicine on Manhattan’s Upper East Side this fall, was active during her four years at Stern. As president of the Chemistry Club, she obtained grants for projects and organized activities including a chemistry magic show and off-campus trips, efforts which won the club an Outstanding Chapter Award from the American Chemical Society.

Having earned an academic scholarship to Stern as an Anne Scheiber Scholar for Excellence in Science, Charles intends to specialize in both clinical dermatology and academic medicine.

“The link between skin health and nutrition has been an interest of mine since I was in middle school,” Charles said. “Throughout my career, I would like to research this relationship.”

For her honors thesis, Charles researched the change in behavior of cholesterol once it has oxidized and presented her findings to the American Chemical Society, the Biophysical Society and the Columbia University Undergraduate Research Symposium.

“The faculty at Stern College helped me develop my critical thinking abilities,” Charles said. “I particularly enjoyed and learned from my research experience with my honors program mentor, Dr. Evan Mintzer [assistant professor of chemistry], with whom I did my research.”

But Grace doesn’t spend all her time working on her 4.0 GPA. She played on Stern’s basketball and soccer teams and played the harp as part of Stern’s Chamber Ensemble. An award-winning writer, Grace is currently writing a book, Get to the Top of the Class: How to Succeed in High School—a topic on which she has proved herself an expert.

Next profile: Yeshiva College graduate Shlomo Eisenberg, third generation YU-er, heads to Harvard Law School