We often make our boldest moves when young and full of ambition. Taking giant leaps toward independence while growing up as a teenage girl amidst conflict in the Middle East demonstrates an entirely different level of confidence and purpose. Mahnaz Shmalo, an alumnus of Touro’s Graduate School of Jewish Studies—and recently designated instructor at the Lander College for Women—was in high school when the Iranian revolution erupted in 1979. After graduating, she managed to escape to England and live with her sister, initiating a decades-long journey that would take her to Israel for 25 years and, eventually, America, where she now resides in Passaic, New Jersey. She has never returned to Iran.
Marking an outstanding achievement in academia, Graduate School of Jewish Studies Associate Professor Dr. Natalia Aleksiun has earned three research fellowships for the current academic year at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C., the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York and the Center for Urban History of East Central Europe in Lviv, Ukraine.
Aspiring actress-singer Miriam Leah Droz, who was raised as a Conservative Jew, stopped performing for 10 years after she decided to become strictly Orthodox and adhere to Jewish religious law that prohibits women from singing or performing live in front of men due to modesty issues.
Dr. Michael A. Shmidman has served as Dean of Touro Graduate School of Jewish Studies since 1986, and was appointed to the Victor J. Selmanowitz Chair in Jewish History in 2003. He has been a member of Touro’s faculty and administration since 1981, when he was recruited to serve as the first director of the newly established Graduate School of Jewish Studies.