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More Women Getting Funding for Jewish Doctoral Degrees

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The National Foundation for Jewish Studies (NFJS) announced the award of 13 Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships in Jewish Studies for the 1981-82 academic year, bringing the total of such awards to 213 doctoral candidates — 176 men and 37 women — in the 20 years of the (NFJS) program.

Amos Comay, NFJS president, said the project was created to help advanced doctoral candidates in Jewish studies who are completing their dissertations. The 13 awardees for 1981-82 are five women and eight men. Comay said the fellowships carry a $1,000 to $5,500 stipend, depending on the awardee’s financial need. Fellowship awards are based on the candidate’s academic achievements and scholarly potential, Comay said.

Dr. Carl Rheins, NFJS director of academic affairs, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that, prior to the 1970s, few women received such fellowships because they felt that careers in Jewish studies for women were limited and they did not enter the field.

He gave the number of women applicants for the fellowships as: two for 1975-76; five for 1976-77; four for 1977-78; two for 1978-79; four for 1979-80; four for 1980-81 and five for the coming academic year.

Dr. Rheins stressed that competition for the fellowships is on merit by definition and sex is not relevant to the awards.

The five women awardees are: Leila Berner of the University of California at Los Angeles; Elisheva Carlebach of Columbia University; Renee Levine of Brandeis University; Tirzah Meacham of Hebrew University; and Jean Mensch, also a doctoral candidate at Columbia.

Eight of the 13 recipients this year are specializing in Jewish history and one each in ethnomusicology, Hebrew languages and literature, rabbinics, Bible and sociology.

Comay said that, at a time when “the economic crunch is seriously curtailing the availability of scholarships and fellowships for extremely able students, it is of particular importance” that programs should be reinforced “which encourage and foster the creativity of gifted scholars to carry forward Jewish learning and culture.”

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