Judaic Studies Council

"White Jews and the Yearning for Blackness"

5:30 – 8 p.m. | Thursday 16 May
SUNY Global Center | 116 E. 55 St., Manhattan

The Judaic Studies Alumni Council invites you to a lecture by Binghamton University Professor Jonathan Karp, followed by a networking reception. Dietary laws will be observed. Registration details will follow.

In American society, Jews have been identified as white, even if at times tentatively and grudgingly. The debate about Jews and whiteness has focused attention on questions of race and ethnicity in American Jewish communities. While white status often affords privilege, some Jews have found being identified as white to be oppressive and limiting. In this talk Professor Jon Karp tells the story of three American Jews who have identified as black to examine the resistance to being identified as white, and the sense of longing for and belonging to Black cultural community.

Jonathan Karp is an associate professor of Judaic studies and history at Binghamton University of the State University of New York (SUNY). He is the author of The Politics of Jewish Commerce: Economic Thought and Emancipation in Europe (Cambridge University Press, 2008) and editor or co-editor of seven volumes, including Beyond Whiteness: Revisiting Jews in Ethnic America (Purdue University Press, 2023); World War I and the Jews (Berghahn Books, 2018) with Marsha L. Rozenblit; and The Cambridge History of Judaism in the Early Modern World (Cambridge University Press, 2017) with Adam Sutcliffe. His work explores the roles that Jews have played in modern economic life and the images and stereotypes that have accompanied them. His forthcoming book is Jews and Blacks in the Business of American Popular Music. Karp is the recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service. From 2010 to 2013 he served as executive director of the American Jewish Historical Society.

About the Judaic Studies Council

The Binghamton University Judaic Studies Council supports the mission of the Judaic Studies Departments and its students’ advancement. The Judaic Studies Council advises the Department in developing strategic partnerships and long-term planning, expanding the network of opportunities for current students and recent graduates, providing learning opportunities for alumni and friends, assisting in recruiting students to Binghamton. 

Assisting Department with building partnerships with not-for-profit institutions, developing and achieving long-term goals, identifying additional funding opportunities for students and the Department.

Executive Mentorship Program

Join Binghamton University Judaic Studies Council’s Executive Mentorship Program! Mentorship gives students the guidance they need to jumpstart their careers.

  • The Executive Mentorship Program Overview

    The Judaic Studies Department Mentorship Program will provide an opportunity for Judaic Studies students to be matched with a professional in their field among Binghamton alumni. The Program includes:

    • Three to six 30-60 minute sessions for the mentor and mentee to build a relationship in order to foster the professional and personal development of the mentee
    • Check ins with program facilitators for the mentors and mentees
    • Sessions may be over the phone, Zoom, or socially distanced outside as mentor and mentee are comfortable

    The Sessions:

    Over the 30-60 minute sessions, we recommend covering the following topics. Note that it is not mandatory to follow this progression, it is a suggestion.

    • Getting to know one another:
      • What are the mentor’s experiences that led them to where they are today?
      • What are the mentees goals and career aspirations?
    • Field of Work:
      • What it’s like to work in the field.
      • Why the mentee wants to work in the field.
    • Resume: The mentor will guide the mentee in either creating, updating, or fine-tuning their resume.
    • Cover Letter: The mentor will guide the mentee in either creating, updating, or fine-tuning their cover letter.
    • LinkedIn: the mentor will guide the mentee in either creating, updating, or fine-tuning their LinkedIn profile.
    • Networking: The mentor will guide the mentee in building or expanding their network. This can include making new connections, advising on maintaining already existing ones, as well as tips and tricks.
    • Plan of Action: the mentor and mentee will work together on a plan for the mentee to move forward. This can include gaining skills, applying for jobs/internships, or working on a network.

    Expectations of the Mentor:

    • Be ready to guide and lead conversation. Your mentee may not know exactly what to ask or what they are looking for.
    • Provide honest and productive feedback for your mentee while also encouraging and nurturing their growth in a positive way.
    • Share as much as you can with your mentee - past experiences (successes and failures), connections, and anything else that will help your mentee grow.

    Expectations of the Mentee:

    • Have an open mind, be open to feedback, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Listen to what your mentor has to say.  Always keep in mind that your mentor is here to help you grow!
    • Complete the work that your mentor may ask of you in between sessions. Six sessions is not nearly enough, this will thoroughly enhance the mentorship experience.
    • Take initiative and express your goals to your mentor. Your time together will be the most productive if it is focused on the direction you want to go in.

    Suggestions for your First Conversation:

    • Who are you and why did you decide to participate in this program?
    • What do you expect to take away or learn from this experience? What are your goals?
    • What is your area of expertise and interest?
    • What boundaries and norms do you want to maintain in your mentorship relationship?
    • How should you continue to stay in touch and communicate?

    Students: For more information on the program, and to register, please complete this form.

    For more information about becoming a mentor please contact Randy Friedman at friedman@binghamton.edu.

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Council Members

  • Abby Pitkowsky '89

    Bronx, NY | abby.pitkowsky@gmail.com

    Director of Israel Education and Westchester region, The Jewish Education Project

    Favorite courses in Judaic Studies: All Hebrew classes of Dr. Yedida Stillman z”l and Prof Allan Arkush, Contemporary Zionism

  • Matthew Becker '07

    New York, NY | mjbecker@bdo.com

    Audit Director in the Nonprofit and Healthcare Practice in the New York Metro Area offices of BDO 

    Brief Bio and Job Description: After graduating Binghamton University with a bachelor of science in accounting, Matt has dedicated more than 15 years to providing high-quality accounting and consulting services as well as thought leadership to nonprofit and healthcare organizations. Matt’s range of nonprofit expertise includes Jewish/Israel and Friends of Organizations, Human Service Organizations, Membership and Religious Organizations, International Non-Governmental Organizations and various other nonprofits.

    Matt is intimately involved with the BDO-US Israel Desk and serves as a liaison to the Desk for the nonprofit industry. The US-Israel Desk is a platform designed to enable exceptional client service to organizations both in the U.S. and in Israel, attending to their auditing, tax, and advisory needs. Headquartered in New York City and Tel-Aviv, the US-Israel Desk, the Desk seamlessly coordinates a wide range of integrated services.

  • Illana Ben Ezra '14, MA '15

    New York, NY | ibe209@nyu.edu

    Assistant Director, Hillel at Baruch, City, John Jay, Pace, and SVA (Jewish communal field)

  • Yael Brenner '16


    Assistant Director, Hillel at Baruch, City, John Jay, Pace, and SVA (Jewish communal field)

    Brief Job Description: Oversees operations and programming for a cross campus Hillel in Manhattan - including Baruch College, The City College of New York, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Pace University, and The School of Visual Arts

    Favorite courses in Judaic Studies: Sephardi Mizrachi Voices, Early Zionist Thought

  • Sarah Diamond '98

    West Orange, NJ | sarahbdiamond@yahoo.com

    Director, New Jersey Jewish Film Festival
    Adult Department Program Director, JCC MetroWest

    Brief Job Description: Manages a major Jewish film festival i including oversight of committees, sponsorships, film selection and post-screening discussions

    Create and implement programming for adults aged 50plus with lectures, trips and other social programming.

    Favorite courses in Judaic Studies: History of Jews in America

  • Cindy Goldstein '92

    Livingston, NJ | cindy.goldstein1@gmail.com

    Religious school teacher: Congregation Agudath Israel, Caldwell, NJ

    Brief Job Description: Judaic Studies teacher (calendar, holidays,etc) for 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders.  Also teaching mindfulness classes across all ages from kindergarten through 8th.  

    Favorite courses in Judaic Studies: Women in the Rabbinate

  • Linda Grabel '71
  • Randi Halperin '93
  • Justin Hayet '15, MPA '16
  • Joseph Hury '98
  • Rachel Jacobs Opsal '08

    Brooklyn, NY | racheljacobs86@gmail.com

    Gair, Gair, Conason, Rubinowitz, Bloom, Hershenhorn, Steigman & Mackauf

    Brief Job Description: Rachel Jacobs is involved in prosecuting all types of personal injury cases, particularly motor vehicle and medical malpractice cases. Her work includes all aspects of case investigation, drafting and overseeing pleadings, researching and writing motions, preparing and defending plaintiffs’ examinations before trial, court appearances, and trial preparation.

    Favorite courses in Judaic Studies: The Holocaust

  • Jessica Morgenthal 
  • Seth Meyer '07

    New York, NY | sethjmeyer@gmail.com

    Brown & Altman, LLP, Melville, New York

    Brief Job Description: Represents businesses and individuals’ zoning and real estate matters involving various types of commercial and residential properties on Long Island and in New York City.  I also represent clients in commercial litigation matters in state and federal courts.

  • Michael Pitkowsky '89

    Bronx, NY | michael@pitkowsky.net 

    Manager of Enrollment Analytics at St. Francis College

    Brief Bio and Job Description: After a career in academia and higher ed that included working with sophisticated learning platforms and data analysis, Pitkowsky decided to make a full transition to the world of high tech and software that eventually led him to dive head first into the Salesforce ecosystem. Within the Salesforce community Pitkowsky found a supportive environment that challenged him to develop his skills in the application of technology towards helping organizations better fulfill their mission. His goal is to help organizations understand how the Salesforce platform can help them become better and more effective at what they are doing. 

  • Yael Rabin '14

    New York, NY | YRabin@adl.org

    Data Analyst, Center on Extremism at Anti-Defamation League

  • Ira Rohde '87

    New York, NY | irohde@shearithisrael.org  

    Rabbi-Hazzan Ira L. Rohde is hazzan-minister (cantor) of Congregation Shearith Israel, the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue in New York—North America’s first congregation—and he holds rabbinical ordination from Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, in New York City

    Brief Bio: Rohde has made a special study of the Portuguese liturgical traditions, working closely with Shearith Israel’s esteemed hazzan emeritus, the Reverend Abraham Lopes Cardozo, who came to that congregation from Amsterdam and Surinam.

  • Maurice Salth '89
  • Brian Smollett '03

    New York, NY | brian.smollett@gmail.com

    Dean of Academic Affairs and Associate Dean of Graduate Studies Assistant Professor of Modern Jewish Thought at The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS)

  • Michael Snow '14
  • Belle Yoeli '14

    New York, NY | yoelib@ajc.org

    Chief of Staff and Chief Innovation Officer at AJC Global