Meet the 2018 – 2019 Gideon Klein Scholarship Award Winner:
by Sarah Araujo De Godoy
During the Holocaust, many musicians and other artists were persecuted by the Nazis, some because they were Jewish, others because of the content of their art. With that in mind, the Giessen Family offers a $5,000 award every year for students to either create original work, prepare a performance, or do research on an artist, using the Holocaust as a common thread. The award memorializes Gideon Klein, brilliant pianist, composer and mentor, who died in Terezin in 1945. This year’s recipient for the Gideon Klein Scholarship is Elizabeth Levi, who is currently pursuing a Master of Science at Northeastern’s Media Advocacy program. However, this isn’t her first time being a Husky — as an undergraduate, Elizabeth studied journalism and minored in anthropology at Northeastern University, where much of her work related to religion.
Religion has always been an area of interest for Elizabeth. Coming from a family of Iraqi Jews, she feels personally connected to the broader Jewish community. Her passion for Jewish history was the driving force for her involvement with Jewish life in both her undergraduate and postgraduate years. On-campus, she served as the President of Huskies for Israel, a pro-Israel student organization. Now, she finds herself coordinating pro bono opportunities at Ropes and Gray LLP, which intersects with her Master’s degree studies to continuously provide her with the tools necessary to become an effective advocate, particularly for Israel. Elizabeth thus views her Gideon Klein project as an opportunity to dive deep into her heritage as a Jewish woman as she prepares herself for the next steps in her advocacy career.
Elizabeth’s project, under the direction of Journalism Professor and Jewish Studies Program Associate Director Laurel Leff, will consist of a digital webpage where she will share the stories and artwork of Jewish women artists who received refugee status in the United States both during and immediately after the Holocaust. She will also look specifically into how these women’s struggles throughout the course of their lives in Europe came into play in their artistic creations. Elizabeth’s work will be incorporated into the Rediscovering Refugee Scholars project, a research effort by Northeastern University faculty and graduate students in Jewish Studies, Journalism, Public History, and Computer Science to retrace the forgotten career and life pathways of a group of scholars who attempted to flee Nazi persecution in the 1930s and 1940s. Professor Leff is the project director.
When asked about her preference for a digital webpage as opposed to other types of creative displays, Elizabeth suggested that she gets most of her news from social media, which explains why she wanted to do her project based on a media topic. According to her, online journalism has transitioned from plain text and illustrations to more than words on a screen. Online news outlets such as the New York Times and the Washington Post have been the pioneers for interactive media in journalism, whereby readers can click on pictures and icons to read more about a certain topic or access specific content. She is eager to put an innovative, interactive spin on this year’s Gideon Klein project, providing the Northeastern community an avant-garde web display aimed at teaching others about an often-forgotten population in the Holocaust context: female artists. According to Elizabeth, there are still a lot of stories left to be told, and learning about them is key to preventing such an atrocity from happening again. Thus, she anticipates that “this project will deepen that understanding and hopefully serve to educate and inform others about these narratives.”
Sarah Araujo de Godoy is a fifth year International Affairs major at Northeastern University.
Read the rest of the Fall 2018 newsletter here.