Growing up near Harlem, Laura Stivers (Ph.D. ’00) frequently saw homeless people. There was much diversity in her grade school and many children from poor homes. When she was eight, her family moved to the state of Washington where she lived in a predominately white suburban neighborhood. The social and economic inequalities she observed as a child and her father’s influence as a Christian ethicist, contributed, she says, to ethics and social justice becoming a focus of her teaching.
“I WENT TO POLAND to research the reputation of Yiddish writer Sholem Asch (1880-1957). Conversations with scholars in Warsaw and Krakow led me to Kutno, Asch’s birthplace, where I discovered that a biennial festival is held to honor him. I was surprised to discover the extent of Asch’s literary reputation in Poland outside the Jewish community. His works were extensively translated into Polish and are still in print. He was the first Jew to receive the Order of Polonia Restituta (Order of Rebirth of Poland). “It was remarkable to discover that right now, in Poland, a new narrative of Jewish experience is being constructed — about the rich texture and communal life of the Jewish community 800 years before the horrific events of the 20th century. While we should not forget the events of World War II, the Holocaust is no longer the only lens for viewing the Jewish story in Poland.” — Alan Shore, Ph.D. student in Jewish History and Culture