Faculty and Students Present Diverse Projects Funded by Schneier Center for International Affairs

Jan 2, 2008 — From ancient Rome and Persia to modern-day Israel, the research presented at this year’s Schneier Center Research Night in December focused on conflict and cohesion across the world from the time of the Talmud until today.

Now in its third year, the event showcases the work of faculty recipients of a summer research grant from the Rabbi Arthur Schneier Center for International Affairs, which enables them to delve deeper into their fields of interest. This year, the presentation also featured research conducted by the first graduate students to receive a grant.

“It was fascinating,” said Ruth Bevan, PhD, the center’s director, describing the research project of Pinchas Roth and Ethan Zadoff, who are pursuing master’s degrees at Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies. “They used new photographic techniques to look at the wording on ancient silver amulets.” Also presenting his graduate research was Mayer Bellehsen, a PhD student at Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, who used his grant to examine acculturation and stress among English-speaking immigrants in Israel.

The grants, and the subsequent presentation by awardees, “further the center’s mission of promoting international understanding and cooperation while providing a forum for the exchange of ideas in a wide variety of areas,” Bevan said, noting that “each year, people comment on the diversity of the projects.”

The grants also fund five internships enabling undergraduate students to assist faculty members with their research. “We try to match the students to the projects based on their interests and capabilities,” Bevan added. Two of these positions are sponsored by the Schneidman Scholarship Fund for internships in conflict resolution.

Presenting the research of Ferkauf professor Louise Bordeaux Silverstein, Marina Stolerman, a PsyD candidate in the school’s Combined School Clinical program, showed a short video produced by Dr. Silverstein and then guided attendees through a DVD outlining the efforts made so far to conduct a qualitative study of the families of Holocaust survivors.

Stolerman—who, with fellow PsyD candidate Penina Schreiber, has been assisting in the project—accompanied Silverstein to Israel this summer to collect data at Yad Vashem and collaborate with Dr. Tal Litvak-Hirsch at Ben Gurion University. They plan to begin interviewing subjects in January.

“Research on grandchildren specifically has been limited,” Stolerman said, noting that she and Schreiber are working on the project for their dissertations.

Thanks to the Schneier Center grant, Steven Fine, PhD, professor of Jewish history at Yeshiva College and Revel Graduate School and director of the YU Center for Israel Studies, was able to devote himself to formulating a major exhibition to be mounted by the YU Museum in 2009-2010.

The exhibition, “On the Cusp of Empires: Jewish, Romans and Persians in the Ancient World,” will focus on the ancient city of Dura Europos on the border between the Roman and Persian empires. It will “explore the unique position of Jews in both the Persian and Roman worlds, and Dura as the bridge between ancient Babylonia (Iraq) and the Land of Israel,” said Fine. “The site is as important as Pompeii for the study of ancient history. The synagogue [in Dura Europos] is the most important ancient Jewish art ever discovered.”

The third faculty member, Dr. Evan Resnick, assistant professor of political science at Yeshiva College, said the funding enabled him to take an extended research trip this summer to the US National Archives in College Park, MD. He was assisted by interns Mayer Kovacs, a student at Yeshiva College, and Jane Kitaevich, from Stern College for Women.

Resnick’s project, “Explaining Variations in Alliance Cohesion During Wartime,” explored the degree to allies cooperate in their military planning and operations. “Cooperation is a crucial variable that can considerably enhance or diminish the fighting power and war-winning potential of a given military alliance,” he said. Resnick will test his theories using six case studies, all drawn from World War II: US-Great Britain, US-Soviet Union, Britain-Soviet Union, Germany-Japan, Germany-Italy, and Italy-Japan. His research will form the basis of a book.

A “repeat presentation” by Schneier Center grant recipients will take place in the spring on the Wilf Campus, said Dr. Bevan, who urges members of the university community to “come and see what faculty and students are working on.”

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