Honors Program

Develop your scholarly talents. Enhance your writing and research skills. Engage in energetic conversations with faculty and other Honors colleagues. Apply to the Judaic Studies Honors Program!

The Honors Program in Judaic Studies includes both a four-credit fall Honors Research Seminar and a four-credit spring Judaic Studies Honors Thesis. The program is open to seniors majoring in Judaic Studies who carry a GPA in the major of 3.5 or higher. Admission to the program is by application, including a personal statement, brief writing sample, and résumé. For more information, please contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies or the Department Chair.

I. Four (4)-Credit Research Seminar

The Honors Research Seminar, taught by Professor Friedman, will educate students in important aspects of research methods and thesis writing. Department faculty will present on research methods and topics, including gender, orientalism, historicism, and the study of religion. Additional topics will include plagiarism, primary and secondary sources, thesis construction, interpretation, and originality.

Students will be required to make three presentations: one on the thesis topic, a second on research methods and plan, and finally a prospectus of approximately 500 - 1250 words (2 - 5 pages).

At the end of the semester, students will have developed and refined a thesis statement, abstract, and bibliography. At this point, students will be assigned a faculty advisor to guide them through the writing process for the spring course Judaic Studies Honors Thesis. The fall Honors Research Seminar will meet weekly on Wednesday from 1:10 - 2:40 in the Judaic Studies Department Seminar Room.

II Four (4)-Credit Honors Thesis

Students will research and write a substantial thesis under the supervision of a faculty advisor. Complete drafts of the thesis will be due in early April. A final, revised thesis is due late April. Students will meet bi-weekly to review progress, present on theses, and workshop issues that arise in writing.

Students will present conference-length paper versions of their theses in late April at a Judaic Studies Department Conference, open to the public.  


Honors Students


Academic Year 2020/2021


Nina First: “The Language of Jewish Anti-Zionism: A Socio-historical Analysis of Yiddish’s Taut Relationship with Hebrew and the Ensuing Political Tensions Between Jewish Identities Represented Within the Divergent Languages”


Advisor:  Prof. Gina Glasman
Languages maintain a pivotal role within civilizations and nations by providing shape to integral and foundational ideas, attitudes, beliefs, and values. Concurrently, languages can pronounce differences and divisions between varying factions by underscoring the contrast of tenets and convictions embraced within divergent communities. Essentially, languages function as the core of communication, expression, and interpersonal connections by formulating metaphysical doctrines and perceptions into static outlines that can convey the essence of faiths, thoughts, sensations, and judgments. Ostensibly, languages contain a distinct power that can sculpt social realities and boundaries, as these tools of communication can emphasize the parallels and agreements bonding people together while simultaneously highlighting the oppositions and polarities segregating individuals from one another. 
Thus, within the scope of Jewish collectives, languages hold an extreme significance. Since the borders dividing the vast tapestry of Judaism into diverse, idiosyncratic collectives run congruent to the languages incorporated within the varying Jewish pockets. These languages establish the differences and divisions in ideological, theological, and traditional observances setting the Jewish communities apart from each other. Therefore, calculated intentions charge the choice of language within a Jewish coterie. 
This paper explores the political motives influencing the usage of the Yiddish language within Jewish collectives as a deliberate alternative to the Hebrew language. By delineating the transformation of Yiddish into a symbolic relic of a distinct Jewish identity and the Zionist response to the language’s evolution this project expounds on the anti-Zionist sentiments encompassed within the usage of the Yiddish language.


Hannah Hudes: "The Evolution of American Jewish Public Opinion"


Advisor: Allan Arkush
This essay explores the evolution of American Jewish public opinion and addresses the apparent gap between what one might expect American Jewish voting trends to be and the reality of the situation. On the basis of Pew Research Center studies and existing literature on American Jewish political behavior, I analyze specific characteristics of the American Jewish community in order to develop a clearer understanding of American Jewish public opinion. I dissect external and internal variables that affect political decision-making and analyze those factors in relation to the Jewish vote. I conclude by addressing the potential for changes in these patterns as a result of new developments in religious and socioeconomic status, and determine that what makes American Jewish public liberalism unique and persistent depends on a host of factors that are essential to its continued existence.


Elizabeth Kaner: "Transgenerational Trauma and the Holocaust: The Kaner Family"


Advisor:  Prof. Paul-William Burch
Even though eight decades have passed since the end of the Nazi’s systematic slaughter of Jews, the sinister fingerprint of the Holocaust still remains all over the world, and especially on those within families that were directly affected. The ramifications of genocide still ring loudly in their ears; it’s everlasting effects surfacing through pain and trauma. However, these ramifications did not stop with those who experienced the Shoah firsthand. They continued to be felt by survivors’ children, the second generation (2G), and the survivors’ childrens’ children, the third generation (3G). This study will explore trauma and the modes of its transmission in families affected by the Holocaust through a series of psychological studies exploring PTSD, trauma, and transgenerational trauma. Furthermore, Holocaust memoirs and fiction will be examined alongside perspectives of experts in Holocaust history, such as Lawrence Langer and Alan Berger. A holistic view on the findings gathered from both types of literature will lead to the identification of themes characterizing families directly impacted by the Holocaust and the unique markers that define each generation’s trauma.


Academic Year 2019/2020

Allison Abrams: “Defense Mechanism: Class and the Black-Jewish Relationship in the Early 1900s”

Advisor: Professor Jonathan Karp
Allison Abrams is a Judaic studies major. During her time at Binghamton, she was a soprano in Kaskeset, Binghamton's Jewish A Cappella group, and the president of Keshet, Binghamton's LGBTQ Jewish community. She also volunteered with the Food Co-op and several student and community organizations surrounding climate justice and mass incarceration in the local community.


Violeta Bangiyev: “Mental Health Stigma and Awareness Within the Ultra-Orthodox Community”

Advisor: Professor Assaf Harel
Violeta Bangiyev is a double major in Psychology and Judaic Studies, and part of the Jewish Foundation for the Education of Woman (JFEW) in International Relations and Global Affairs. Her main passions this year have been this honors thesis, The Couple Adjustment to Stress and Trauma (CAST) Lab where she worked, and had the opportunity to create and present a research poster titled, “Associations Amongst Internalized Homonegativity, Adverse Childhood Experiences, and Religiosity in a Community Sample of Sexual Minority Individuals.” She also volunteered at the Support. Empathy. Empowerment. Kindness. (SEEK) Helpline as a Crisis Call handler. 


Hannah Bartell: “Reinventing the Wheels: A Look at Informal Jewish Education”

Advisor: Professor Beth Burch
Hannah Bartell is a Judaic Studies major and Education minor. This past year she was the President of Hillel and in the past held other leadership roles within the organization including Freshman Program Director. She has sat on the Education Minor Steering Committee for the past two years. This year she took on leadership within the student association as a congress representative. Hannah is also a sister of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi sorority on campus. 


Julia Lustig: “The Modern Orthodox Feminist: A Losing Battle?”

Advisor: Professor Michael Kelly
Julia Lustig is double majoring in English and Judaic Studies. She has been involved in Jewish life on campus through Chabad and Hillel and has held various leadership roles in both organizations throughout her time at Binghamton, most notably as an E-Board member of Bearcats for Israel. Julia was part of the Johnson City Mentor Program and volunteered at Binghamton High School, both of which contributed to her interest in pursuing a career in education. She is also part of Greek Life as a member of the Alpha Epsilon Phi Sorority.


Shiraz Otani: “Worlds Apart: American Jews Against a Jewish State”

Advisor: Professor Allan Arkush 
Shiraz Otani is a senior double-majoring in Judaic Studies and Political science, and minoring in Global Studies. She has served as the President of the Binghamton University Zionist Organization and the Major Programs Coordinator for Chabad of Binghamton.