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Meet Alumna Yaelle Frohlich, Revel’s new Alumni Coordinator

yaelle_frohlich headshot (2)Revel welcomes back alumna Yaelle Frohlich as the graduate school’s new Alumni Relations Coordinator. Yaelle earned her master’s degree in Modern Jewish History in January 2012, and is currently studying for her doctorate in NYU’s joint program in History-Hebrew & Judaic Studies. “Although I decided to continue my academic training at NYU, I have remained connected to the Revel community,” explains Yaelle. “Therefore, I welcomed this opportunity to help build the Revel alumni community. Revel has hundreds of alumni who work in different fields, many of whom have done some really interesting, worthwhile things with their time and talents. I’m looking forward to working part-time with the Revel administration in reaching out to these alumni and helping coordinate other projects.”

Yaelle credits Revel with first opening her mind to academic Jewish studies, exposing her to the broad questions and opportunities in Jewish historical research, and helping her develop important scholarly and methodological skills. Yaelle enjoyed all her Revel courses and believes they prepared her well for her doctoral studies. “Dr. Karlip's course The Emergence of Modern Yiddish Culture particularly stood out for me, as East European Jewish culture was always the field  that most captured my interest,” she says. “The course cemented my commitment to that area of study.”


“I was also particularly fortunate to have had the opportunity to take Dr. Leiman's course on The Emden-Eybeschuetz Controversy my first semester,” Yaelle continues. “The course was an exhilarating journey through the methodological challenges surrounding the history of this conflict, and highlighted my awareness of the need for background knowledge and uncompromising precision in rabbinic source analysis.”


Yaelle’s doctoral research now focuses on nineteenth- and twentieth-century East European Jewish history. She is especially interested in the development of secular Jewish culture, Yiddish language and literature, and the rise of nationalism in Eastern Europe in general and within Jewish society in particular.


Her passion for Jewish history and literature was apparent from a young age. As a child, Yaelle was extremely interested in genealogy and loved hearing from relatives about the past. She also recalls “devouring young adult books about the Holocaust--fiction and nonfiction.” As a teenager, she regularly read Yiddish short stories (translated into English), as well as American Jewish fiction. “I grew up with a very strong sense of what the scholar Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi called  ‘collective memory,’” she adds. “My interest in academic Jewish history was an outcome of that, which is ironic considering how Yerushalmi implied that collective memory and academic historical consciousness are somewhat oppositional by nature.”


Yaelle entered Revel’s MA program after completing her BA at Stern College, where she majored in English Communications, with a concentration in Journalism. Her interest in reporting led her to serve as Features editor of The YU Observer (2008-2009), and then as its editor-in-chief (2009-2010). For her senior honors thesis, however, she felt drawn back to Jewish literature and wrote about interfaith relationships in the fiction of Bernard Malamud.


Post-Revel, Yaelle has studied elementary Yiddish and is starting to learn Russian as well. Outside of academia, she enjoys writing creatively, including plays/screenplays, comedic monologues, poetry and essays. Over the past few years, she wrote (and acted in) several short videos about relationship abuse for a series of vignettes produced by Project S.A.R.A.H., a "domestic violence and sexual abuse project that supports all members of the Jewish community throughout the State of New Jersey and assists the victims in accessing the services they need." The vignettes were directed by Professor Reuven Russell of Stern College for Women.


Yaelle believes that her academic, creative and community-based pursuits are connected.  “History and art both inform people’s understanding of the current world,” she says. “When done responsibly, honestly and fearlessly, they have the potential to enrich, engage and challenge communities perhaps more than anything else.”

This article was written by Rivka Skaist, Revel MA student in Jewish Philosophy