Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Fund for Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships in Jewish Studies

August 6, 2013 Update: Please note that the Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Fund for Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships in Jewish Studies will be on hiatus and will not be offered for the coming (2014-15) year. 

Overview

The FJC awards four to five Doctoral Dissertation fellowships per year to emerging scholars who are working in their last year of thesis writing within recognized fields associated with Jewish studies. The new cycle of grants are announced by September 1 of each year, with application deadlines slated on or about December 15. Applicants should be completing an original, English-language (only) dissertation and be finished with all other requirements for their Ph.D.

The Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Fund for Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships in Jewish Studies encourages scholarly research, publication and teaching in the various disciplines of Jewish studies. Established in 1960, we have awarded fellowships to over 600 scholars, including many leaders in the field.

In previous years the Foundation has awarded fellowships of between $16,000 and $20,000 to Doctoral Dissertation fellows.

Doctoral Dissertation recipients are announced by or before June 1 of each year.

How to Apply

August 6, 2013 Update: Please note that the Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Fund for Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships in Jewish Studies will be on hiatus and will not be offered for the coming (2014-15) year.

To download application guidelines for previous years please click here. To download other funding opportunities in Jewish Studies please click here.

Please email pzak [at] jewishculture.org or grants [at] jewishculture.org with questions.

Eligibility

The Doctoral Dissertation grant is intended to help students in their last year of thesis writing only. Please note that we can no longer accept applications from students who have applied previously unless students petition on an individual basis for an exception and can provide sufficient evidence of their ability to complete their thesis during the fellowship year. All applicants will be expected to provide a sample chapter (or more) of their thesis as part of the process.

Applicants should:

  • Be citizens or permanent residents of the United States or Canada;
  • Have completed all academic requirements for the Ph.D., except dissertation, by the date of application;
  • Demonstrate significant course work in Jewish studies at the graduate level;
  • Provide evidence of proficiency in a Jewish language (i.e. Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino, Aramaic, etc.);
  • Have a proposal or prospectus that has been approved by a thesis committee;
  • Complete online application in full. Partially completed applications cannot accepted. It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that applications are complete by the deadline.

A strong preference is given to individuals preparing for academic careers in Jewish studies, and to those who indicate that they will pursue a career in the United States. Applications must be in English.

To enable recipients to devote themselves fully to completing the dissertation, it is expected that they will not hold a full-time job or equivalent academic workload during the fellowship year. We request that grantees inform us of any other fellowships or grants they may receive during their fellowship year.

Fellowships cannot be postponed or deferred to another year. Grantees who defer their awards will not receive special consideration upon reapplication.

Criteria for Selection

Each application is reviewed according to the following criteria:

  • Academic promise and ability of candidate as judged by previous performance and recommendations;
  • Potential of project to significantly impact understanding of Jewish life, culture or thought ;
  • Clarity, originality, breadth, and depth of the thesis proposal;
  • Qualifications and academic record of applicant’s advisors and references;
  • Likelihood that an applicant will go on to teach Jewish Studies at an American college or university.

About the Selection Committee

The2013-14 selection committee included: Dr. Beth Wenger (University of Pennsylvania) and Dr. Christine Hayes (Yale University) Co-Chairs. The selection panel also included: Dr. Jeremy Dauber (Columbia University), an expert in early modern and modern Yiddish literature, Dr. Benjamin Gampel (JTS), a scholar of medieval Jewish history, and Dr. Antony Polonsky (Brandeis University), a historian of Eastern European history with a specialization in Polish Jewry.

Dr. Wenger and Dr. Gampel are former Doctoral Dissertation fellowship recipients, and Dr. Polonsky won the 2007 Gantz Zahler Prize for Nonfiction.

Meet the 2013-2014 Doctoral Dissertation Fellows Grantees

The 2013-2014 Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Doctoral Dissertation Fellows include:

Mika Ahuvia (Princeton University, Religious Studies), who analyzes Jewish conceptions of angels in rabbinic literature in order to uncover social dynamics in ancient Jewish communities;  

Daniel Viragh (University of California-Berkeley, History Dept.) whose thesis examines Jewish acculturation to Hungarian identity during the formative period of late 19th/early 20th centuries;

Craig Perry (Emory University, History Dept.), whose thesis analyses the massive trove of ancient documents from the (Cairo) Geniza repository in order to understand the changing shape of the medieval slave trade;

Lillian Wohl (University of Chicago, Music), whose thesis examines musical performances in Buenos Aires through the lens of both cultural memory and ethnomusicology.

Also, Christopher Jones (University of Wisconsin-Madison) is receiving a 2013-14 grant-in-aid to support his work to complete a thesis on “Retrofitting Jerusalem: Power, Status, and Space in Ezra-Nehemiah.”

Read more about these fellows and their projects.

Program Funders

The Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Fund for Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships in Jewish Studies has received generous major support from The Dorot Foundation, The Lucius N. Littauer Foundation, Association for American Jewish Studies, Robert S. Rifkind, E. Robert Goodkind, Linda and Shearn Platt, Kerri Steinberg, Arthur and Susie Goldner, Joan Schnitzer Levy, Louis Blumengarten, the American Academy for Jewish Research, and the Paul S. Nadler Family Charitable Trust.

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