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The S. Daniel Abraham Honors Program

Students in the S. Daniel Abraham Honors Program enroll in honor courses, enjoy faculty mentoring, and complete a major research project. In addition, they participate in exciting extracurricular events - outstanding speakers, cultural outings to top NYC destinations, and leadership workshops.

For more information please contact: 

Cynthia Wachtell
215 Lexington Ave, Room 616


The S. Daniel Abraham Honors Program was founded in 1999 with the goal of enhancing the college experience of high-achieving students.

Built on the premise that outstanding scholars should be brought together, challenged and encouraged to excel, the program nurtures students as it helps them to grow both intellectually and personally. There are both academic and extracurricular components to the Honors Program.

The academic program stresses writing and critical analysis, research and individual mentoring. Students select honors courses from offerings in the humanities, Jewish studies, natural sciences and social sciences, as well as interdisciplinary seminars. In their final three semesters, honor students each complete a senior project under the individual guidance of a faculty mentor.

Students completing the honors program will have the Honors distinction noted on their transcripts and their diplomas.

Stern College honors students also participate in a rich variety of extracurricular events. Each semester the honors programs calendar includes a speakers series, leadership workshops and an exciting array of outings to operas, plays, museums and other cultural destinations. From Elijah or Swan Lake at Lincoln Center; to Jane Austen's Life and Legacy at the Morgan Library and Museum; to walking tours of Grand Central Terminal, Art Deco Manhattan, and Central Park, the program draws on New York City's vast resources. The honors program pays for all events.

Program Director

Dr. Cynthia Wachtell is the founding director of the S. Daniel Abraham Honors Program at Stern College. She earned her PhD in the history of American civilization and an AM in English at Harvard University. She jointly earned an MA and a BA, summa cum laude, from Yale University in American studies.

Her academic field of expertise is American literature of the 19th and 20th centuries. In addition to teaching at Yeshiva University, she has taught at Harvard University, the New School for Social Research and Fordham University.

She is the author of War No More: The Antiwar Impulse in American Literature, 1861-1914 (2010) and editor of The Backwash of War: An Extraordinary American Nurse in World War I (2019) for which she wrote the first biography of Ellen N. La Motte.  She also has published numerous articles in books,  journals, and and other publications, including the New York Times, Washington Post, and Huffington Post.

For more information about the S. Daniel Abraham Honors Program, please contact Dr. Wachtell at and visit the program's pages on the Office of Admissions site, where you can also apply.

News & Events

Spring 2024 Events

Tuesday, January 30 – Layaliza Soloveichik – 7:00 pm - 8:15 pm

For our first event of the new semester, we will be joined by a highly accomplished SCW alumna, Layaliza Soloveichik, Deputy Chief of the Civil Division at the U.S. Attorney's Office. She will lead us through her career path from Yale Law School, to clerking on the Israeli Supreme Court, to working at a prominent law firm, to transitioning to the public sector.  She will also discuss how she manages to balance her career with her significant family and community commitments as the mother of six children and wife of the rabbi of America’s oldest congregation. 


Monday, February 5 – Dara Horn  7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Dara Horn, the acclaimed author of five novels – including A Guide for the Perplexed, All Other Nights, and The World to Come – and of the prize-winning essay collection People Love Dead Jews: Reports from a Haunted Present, will deliver this year’s Hillel Rogoff Memorial Lecture, titled "The Final Solution to the Jewish Question: Becoming Prosemitic in a Haunted World.” She also wrote thsi recent essay for the New York Times "Why Jews Cannot Stop Shaking Right Now." This event is cosponsored by the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought. 


Wednesday, February 21 – Dinner & Women and Social Media – 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Our evening will begin with a relaxing group dinner.  Then communications expert Kara Alaimo, author of the forthcoming book Over the Influence: Why Social Media is Toxic for Women and Girls – And How We can Take it Back, will lead a very instructive session on women and social media.  She will explore how social media affects everything from our relationships to our physical and mental well-being, and she will offer advice about how we can help change this and use our online platforms to empower ourselves and other women. 


Monday, February 26 – Dr. Chaya Karkowsky – 7:00 pm - 8:15 pm

Dr. Chaya Karkowskya highly trained specialist in obstetrics and gynecology who has practiced both in America and Israel, has written extensively about issues related to medicine, women's health, and policy. She is the author of High Risk: Stories of Pregnancy, Birth, and the Unexpected, and she will join us to talk about her career and the challenges of the American healthcare system.   


Friday, March 15 – American Museum of Natural History – 9:45 am - 12:15 pm 

Our visit to the American Museum of Natural History will begin with a self-guided tour of the newly opened Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation, an innovative 230,000-square-foot structure, filled with natural light and surrounded by undulating concrete-lined walls reminiscent of canyons of the Southwest. Among its exhibits is “Invisible Worlds” a stunning 360-degree immersive experience demonstrating the interconnection of all life on earth. Then we will learn about the wonders of the solar system, when we watch “World Beyond Earth,” in the museum’s planetarium. 


Thursday, March 28 – Suffs – 7:30 pm - 10:30 pm

Following a sold-out, extended run at The Public Theater, Suffs arrives on Broadway this spring, where we will see one of its first performances at the Music Box Theater. From the singular mind of Shaina Taub, this “remarkable, epic new musical” focuses on the American suffragists – “Suffs” as they called themselves – and their relentless pursuit of the right to vote in the seven years leading up to the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920.   


Friday, April 5 – Walking Tour of Central Park – 9:15 am – 11:30 am

We will visit Central Park in early spring to tour some of its most iconic sites. Central Park Conservancy guides will lead us through the southern portion of the park, where we will visit the magnificent elm-lined Mall, sweeping lawns of Sheep Meadow, movie-perfect Bethesda Terrace, and famous Bow Bridge among other locations. Along the way we will learn about Central Park’s designers and architects, who transformed rocky and swampy land into a world famous. public park. 


Thursday, April 11 – Senior Project Presentations & Dinner – 6:00 pm - 8:45 pm 

Senior Projects are due at 5:00, and an hour later we will join this year’s seniors to celebrate their accomplishment. Our evening will begin with a festive dinner. Then we will learn all about the seniors’ discoveries, when each briefly presents her research findings. It will be fast-paced and lots of fun!

Fall 2023 Events

Tuesday & Wednesday, September 5th & 6th  – YU Museum

We will meet at the YU Museum for guided tours of the exhibit "The Golden Path: Maimonides Across Eight Centuries," which explores Maimonides' life and impact across centuries, continents, and cultures through rare manuscripts and books. Highlights include manuscripts in Maimonides’ own handwriting, a carved 11th-century door to the Torah ark from Cairo’s Ben Ezra Synagogue, and beautifully illuminated medieval manuscripts.

Monday, September 11 – Henry Moss

We will hear from Henry Moss, a remarkable man whose memories span nearly a century.  Born in Berlin, he moved to NYC at the age of twelve in 1936.  He will share his recollections of prewar Jewish German life, his family's experiences -- both in America and Germany -- in the lead up to WWII, and a wide range of other historical events.

Wednesday, October 11 – Dinner & Confident Communication

Following a relaxed group dinner, Dr. J Zoe Rapoport, the Director and Founder of Rapoport Psychological Services, will lead this workshop on confident communication.  She will introduce us to proven methods to effectively communicate with others so that we feel seen and heard at school, home, with friends, and everywhere else.

Tuesday, October 17 – Time Management

This session led by Grace Hochheise from NYC Career Centers will focus on the benefits of effective time management.  We will learn tools to prioritize academic and personal tasks; how to implement time management techniques, minimizing distractions, and avoiding procrastination; and useful tips for maximizing time, 

Thursday, October 26 – Harmony

The new Broadway musical Harmony  which honors students saw when it debuted off-Broadway  is based on the true story of the Comedian Harmonists. This group of six young men in 1920s Germany “took the world by storm” with their music and comedy, until the inclusion of Jewish singers put them in the path of a much bigger storm brewing.  For a sneak preview, have a look at this fantastic video from a past production of the musical or listen to this recording.

Thursday, November 16 – Florencia en el Amazonas

We will visit NYC's famous Metropolitan Opera to see Florencia en el Amazonas. This modern opera by Mexican composer Daniel Catán tells the enchanting story of a Brazilian opera diva who returns to her homeland to perform at the legendary opera house — located at the heart of the Amazon rainforest—and to search for her lost lover, who has vanished into the jungle. The opera will be sung in Spanish with English subtitles.

Tuesday, November 28 – Dinner & Dr. Brian H. Williams

After a fun group dinner, we will hear from Dr. Brian H. Williams, author of the new book, The Bodies Keep Coming: Dispatches from a Black Trauma Surgeon on Racism, Violence, and How We Heal. A trauma surgeon, professor, Air Force Academy alumnus, former congressional health policy advisor, and current Congressional candidate from Dallas, Dr. Williams will talk about his experiences in the trauma bay and share his insights regarding the history and current state of public health in America.

Wednesday, December 6  – Alumnae Panel 

This is the 25th year of the S. Daniel Abraham Honors Program, which now has nearly 750 graduates! For this event we will hear from a panel of accomplished Honors Program alumnae, who span a range of professional fields and years of graduation. They will discuss their careers, reflect on how they balance personal and professional goals, and offer advice for making the most of your time at SCW.

Spring 2023 Events

Thursday, February 16 – New York Philharmonic – 6:45 - 9:30

We will meet on Lincoln Center’s famous plaza before heading inside the home of the New York Philharmonic, which was recently renovated and re-opened. There the dynamic conductor Ruth Reinhardt will lead the orchestra in a program including Bacewicz’s Overture for Orchestra, Dvorak’s Symphony No. 5, and Thomas Ades’ In Seven Days, which draws inspiration from Genesis and will be accompanied by film by Tal Rosner.


Wednesday, February 22 – Alumnae Panel & Dinner – 6:15 - 8:15

The S. Daniel Abraham Honors Program was founded in 1999, and there are now over 675 graduates! For this event we will hear from a panel of accomplished Honors Program alumnae, who span a range of professional fields and years of graduation. They will discuss their careers, reflect on how they balance personal and professional goals, and offer advice for making the most of your time at SCW.


Tuesday, March 14 – Conflict Resolution Skills – 7:00 - 8:15

Ayanna Behin, Director of Training and Conflict Consulting at the New York Peace Institute, will lead this leadership workshop focusing on “Conflict Resolution Skills.” We will learn helpful tools to resolve differences and will practice navigating difficult conversations, managing disagreements, and addressing challenges creatively.

Thursday, March 23 – Flamenco Festival – 7:15 - 10:00

We will meet at City Center, where we will see a living legend, Sara Baras, and her company perform in the Flamenco Festival. A distinctly Spanish art form, Flamenco is made up of three parts: guitar playing ("guitarra"), song ("cante"), and dance ("baile"). Baras has spent the past 30 years building an internationally lauded career as a dancer, director, and choreographer and in 2020 won the Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance. For a preview see this stunning video.


Monday, March 27 – Talia Gershon – 7:00 - 8:15

Talia Gershon, a trained materials scientist, has spent the past decade at IBM, where she now directs a team of world-class research scientists and engineers with the mission of inventing the future of cloud computing. She will join us to talk about her career and to discuss the future of artificial intelligence and cloud computing.


Assorted Dates in April – “New York Style” Walking Tours – 6:00 – 7:30

The historian Lucie Levine will lead us on a walking tour, starting from campus, focusing on the architectural history of NYC’s historical Garment District. The architect Ely Jacques Kahn sought to create “a new style of architecture – a New York style.” On the tour, we will consider Kahn’s work inside and out, from skyscraper design to art deco lobbies. 


Thursday, April 27 – Senior Project Presentations & Dinner  6:00 - 8:45

Senior Projects are due at 5:00, and an hour later we will join this year’s seniors to celebrate their accomplishment. Our evening will begin with a festive dinner. Then we will learn all about the seniors’ discoveries, when each briefly presents her research findings. It will be fast-paced and lots of fun!


Wednesday, May 3 – Rise Light & Power – 7:00 - 8:15

Sid Nathan, Vice President of External Affairs at Rise Light & Power, and his colleagues will offer us an inside look at his company’s effort to help transition NYC to clean energy, including retiring and replacing New York’s largest fossil fuel plant (located on the East River a few miles from campus) with renewables. We will learn about wind turbines, solar power, and the effort for New York to achieve nation-leading climate goals.

Fall 2022 Events

Thursday, September 8 -- 7:00 pm - 9:45 pm -- "A Crime on the Bayou"

We will view the acclaimed documentary film, "A Crime on the Bayou," about a Jewish lawyer from the North, who defended a Black teen falsely accused of assault in Louisiana during the 1960s. Then we will hear from Armand Derfner, who appears in the film. In his career spanning more than fifty years, Mr. Derfner helped shape the Voting Rights Act through a series of major Supreme Court cases and has worked with Congress to draft voting rights and other civil rights law.


Wednesday, September 14 -- 6:15 pm - 8:30 pm -- Dinner & Lahav Harkov

Following a fun group dinner, we will enjoy a discussion with Lahav Harkov, who is the senior contributing editor and diplomatic correspondent of The Jerusalem Post and an expert on Israel’s domestic and international politics. Dr. Neil Rogachevsky, associate director of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at YU, will interview Ms. Harkov and then take your questions.


Friday, October 28 -- 9:00 am - 11:30 am -- United Nations Tour

We will visit the United Nations Headquarters, located within walking distance of campus on the embankment of the East River, where international guides will explain the history and work of the UN, as we visit the main Security Council Chamber and the General Assembly Hall.


Wednesday, November 2 -- 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm -- Negotiation Skills

Professor Michelle Greenberg-Kobrin from YU’s Cardozo School of Law will lead an interactive workshop that will teach us the essentials of navigating conflict and difficult conversations through principles of negotiation. She offered this event for honors students in 2018, and it was excellent and even life-changing!


Thursday, November 17-- 6:15 pm - 9:15 pm -- Leopoldstadt 

We will travel to Broadway to see the American premiere of Tom Stoppard's Olivier Award-winning Best New Play, which enjoyed a sold-out run in London. Set in Vienna, this profoundly personal play takes its title from the Jewish quarter and follows one extended family through the first half of the 20th century.


Monday, November 28 -- 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm -- Cheryl Bettigole

Dr. Cheryl Bettigole, Philadelphia's Health Commissioner, will join us to talk about her career and current public health crises. Dr. Bettigole is a trained family physician and past president of the National Physicians Alliance, where she helped develop physician teams focused on gun violence prevention and drug safety and pricing, while continuing the organization’s work on access to high quality affordable health care.


Thursday, December 1 -- 6:45 pm - 10:30 pm -- Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish  

We will enjoy a night of fabulous and fun theater when we see this fall's revival of Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish (with English subtitles). It received rave reviews and multiple awards, including the Drama Desk Award for Best Musical, when it debuted in 2019, and it was one of the most beloved honors program events of all time.


Tuesday, December 13 -- 6:15 - 8:15 -- Dinner & "The Anatomy of Our Anxiety"

Following a delicious group dinner, Ellen Vora, who calls herself a "holistic psychiatrist," will introduce us to a paradigm-shifting approach to managing anxiety. We will learn to discern how avoidable anxiety and purposeful anxiety differ and how to eliminate unnecessary anxiety and allow purposeful anxiety to guide us toward meaningful action.

Spring 2022 Events

Sunday, February 13 – 6:15 - 9:15 - New York City Ballet

We will meet at Lincoln Center, where the New York City Ballet will perform four audience favorites, featuring George Balanchine's one-act retelling of Swan Lake. In this beloved ballet classic, Balanchine expertly depicts the rapture, heartache, and woe of two doomed lovers and the evil that thwarts their romance. Among the other work we will enjoy is Andantino, a charming pas de deux choreographed by Jerome Robbins to the second movement of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1.

Monday, February 21 – 7:00 - 8:15 – Defining the Field of Happiness Studies

Tal Ben-Shahar, a world-renowned author and speaker in the field of positive psychology, will join Yeshiva University's President Ari Berman for a discussion titled, "Mapping the Road to Redemption: Defining the Field of Happiness Studies."  This event is sponsored by Dr. Marcia Robbins-Wilf.

Wednesday, March 2 – 6:15 - 8:15 – John Greally & Dinner

The evening will begin with a casual group dinner.  Then Dr. John Greally – director of the Center for Epigenomics and professor and chief of computational genetics at Einstein and a clinical geneticist at Children’s Hospital at Montefiore – will discuss how genomics can be used to understand human diseases, with a focus on the under-served communities of the Bronx. 

Monday, March 14  6:30 - 7:45  Carlina Rivera

Councilmember Carlina Rivera has represented the 2nd Council District  stretching from the Lower East Side to East 35th Street  on the New York City Council since 2017.  She will join us to discuss the inner workings of the Council, her role as chair of the Committee on Hospitals, specific legislation she has introduced and passed, and her inspiring road to public service.

Thursday, March 24 – 6:15 - 9:30 – Harmony

A musical presented in English by the National Yiddish Theatre FolksbieneHarmony is based on the true story of the Comedian Harmonists. This group of six young men in 1920s Germany “took the world by storm” with their music and comedy, until the inclusion of Jewish singers in the act put them in the path of a much bigger storm brewing.  For a sneak preview, have a look at this fantastic video from a past production of the musical.

Tuesday, March 29  7:00 - 8:15 – Alumnae Panel

The S. Daniel Abraham Honors Program was founded in 1999, and there are now over 625 program alumnae!  For this event we will hear from a panel of accomplished Honors Program alumnae, who span a range of professional fields and years of graduation.  They will discuss their careers, reflect on how they balance personal and professional goals, and offer advice for making the most of your time at SCW.

Sunday, April 3 – 2:45 - 5:00 – Historic Jewish Lower East Side Walking Tour

Guides from the Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy will introduce us to Manhattan’s historic Lower East Side. Along the way, we will tour the historic Bialystoker Synagogue, learn about the Henry Street Settlement and the Forward Building, and marvel at Beth Hamedrash Hagadol, a gothic structure that once housed America's largest Russian Jewish Orthodox Congregation. 

Thursday, April 18 – 6:15 - 9:00 – Senior Project Presentations & Dinner

Senior Projects are due at 5:00, and an hour later we will join this year’s seniors to celebrate their accomplishment.  Our evening will begin with a festive dinner.  Then we will learn all about the seniors’ discoveries, when each briefly presents her research findings. It will be fast-paced and lots of fun

Program Information

To be eligible for honors courses, a student must have Deans List status or, in the case of first-year students, have a minimum high school average of 90 and a minimum SAT score of 1200.  In general, honors courses are more rigorous and/or advanced than regular courses and have the following characteristics:

  • Involve a critical investigation of primary sources
  • Make use of and/or demonstrate current methods of field inquiry
  • Entail a heavy writing component (not merely summary thinking)
  • Stress analysis and original thinking
  • Require students to revise and re-write essays and/or other major assignments
  • Emphasize library and lab work
  • Deal with and/or encompass relevant theoretical issues
  • Require students to engage in independent research work

To see the current semester's honors course offerings, please visit

  1. Select the current semester 
  2. Select Beren and "All" subjects
  3. Do a keyword search (Ctrl+F) for "Honors"
  4. You should now see the current semester's honors course offerings.

Sample Semester

  • ARTS 1635H - The New York Skyscraper
  • ARTS 1975H - Topics: Jewish Illuminated Manuscripts
  • BIBL 1087H - Biblical Exegetes I
  • BIBL 3307H - Job
  • BIOL 3521H - Molecular Biology    
  • CHEM 1046H - General Chemistry II
  • COMP 4930H - Topics: Natural Language Processing
  • ENGL 1200H - Freshman Honors Seminar
  • ENGL 2924H - Topics: Female Friendship
  • JHIS 4934H - Topics: Jewish Illuminated Manuscripts
  • JHIS 4935H - Topics: History of Halakhah
  • JPHI 4933H - Tps: Jewish Illuminated Manuscripts
  • JUDS 1591H - Topics in Jewish Civil Law
  • JUDS 1846H - Advanced Talmud II
  • JUDS 1848H - Advanced Talmud
  • JUDS 4932H - Topics: Compar American & Talmudic Law
  • POLI 2198H - Topics: Compar Am. & Talmudic Law
  • POLI 2494H - Topics: Zionist Political Thought
  • PSYC 3128H - Seminar in Moral Psychology
  • PSYC 3815H - Cognitive Neuroscience

Honors Courses

Students must complete a minimum of five honors courses. These courses may be used toward general liberal arts or major requirements. Examples of recent offerings include Introduction to Quantum Mechanics; Philosophy of Rav Soloveitchik; The New York Skyscraper; History of Halakha; Modern Poetry; and Mind, Language, Consciousness. Summer travel courses have included Marine Biology (New York/Maine); Art History in Florence; Literary London; Global Health (New York/India); and Archeological Fieldwork in Israel.

Honors students are expected to maintain a 3.6 cumulative GPA.

Senior Project

At the end of her junior year, each honor student designs a project that involves intensive work under the supervision of a faculty mentor. During her senior year, each student then completes her senior project, which represents the culmination of her academic career at Stern.


During her second year on campus, each student is matched with a faculty mentor in her field of interest. The mentor provides ongoing guidance for the honors student throughout her time at Stern and serves as the faculty supervisor for the student's senior project.


Honors students travel to concerts, ballets, plays and such “only in New York” destinations as the American Museum of Natural History’s Rose Center for Earth and Science, New York City Opera, the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the historic Lower East Side and the United Nations. Also, each semester, scholars and opinion-makers from a broad array of fields—including politics, science, the arts and commerce—address the honors students in small, intimate settings. Finally, honors students enjoy leadership workshops on topics ranging from time management to financial literacy. 

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