Research Support

research support over image of library

The Helen Diller Institute is occasionally able to provide ad-hoc support for UC Berkeley affiliated undergraduate, graduate, and faculty research projects in Jewish Law, Thought, and Identity, and in Israel Studies. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and decisions are made based on available funds. To request a research grant, email a brief project description and a budget draft to Dr. Rebecca Golbert,

Past Research Projects Funded by the Helen Diller Institute


Liza Michaeli, a doctoral candidate in Rhetoric at UC Berkeley, received funding for her final summer of dissertation writing before completing her PhD. Her dissertation, "Recovering the Pain," delves into the existential challenges of a meaningful life, particularly focusing on the experience of pain and its significance, drawing heavily from Jewish liturgical music and philosophical perspectives.

Emily Reich, a doctoral student in the Graduate School of Education at UC Berkeley, used research support to conduct a project in Jerusalem during summer 2024. Partnering with Dr. Samira Alayan from The Hebrew University, Emily explored teacher sensemaking, discretion, and identity among a cohort of teachers from East Jerusalem undergoing training for the Israeli Ministry of Education’s Citizenship curriculum.

Daniel Solomon, a PhD student in the History Department with a focus on Jewish Studies at UC Berkeley, received funding from the Helen Diller Institute for a Hebrew language course at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is pursuing graduate research on the first generation of Holocaust historians in France.

Leo Franks, a PhD student at UC Berkeley, received support from the Helen Diller Institute to further his research on Jewish legal history. The Helen Diller Institute supported his participation in a legal history workshop hosted by the David Berg Foundation and his visit to the Franz Rosenzweig Institute for German Jewish history in Jerusalem.


Charles Halstead received funding from the Institute to complete the 2022–2023 Masa Israel Teaching Fellows program in Rishon Lezion, Israel. During the program, he received pedagogical training and was placed in an Israeli high school to teach English to Israeli students. Additionally, he attended classes on Israeli society and the role socioeconomics and the IL-PA conflict play in education. He also volunteered at an Israeli NGO during his time in Israel. 

Emily Reich received funding from the Institute to continue the work she began in the summer of 2021. Her work explores the role of instructor ideology on the use of state-mandated language curricula and takes a qualitative approach to analyzing English instruction in East Jerusalem. 

Roy Marom is a post doctoral fellow at UC Berkeley. He received funding from the Institute to support his work writing a monograph about early Jewish-Arab encounters in the moshavot (Jewish agricultural colonies) in Ottoman Palestine (1878–1914). 

Jordyn Cummings, former Undergraduate Fellow, received funding from the Institute to complete a year-long fellowship with Yahel Israel. The fellowship includes teaching English to students, working in a nonprofit organization, volunteering at a rehabilitation center for women, and assisting in an after-school arts program for children. 


Liza Michaeli, PhD Student (Rhetoric), received funding for summer dissertation research in Jerusalem. Her dissertation, “Recovering the Pain,” analyzes the difficulty of existence through the study of Jewish liturgical music, the Jewish experiential tradition, and Jewish existential phenomenology in Hebrew and Russian.

Emily Reich, PhD Student (Education), received funding to complete her summer capstone project in Jerusalem. Her work explores the role of instructor ideology on the use of state-mandated language curricula and takes a qualitative approach to analyzing English instruction in East Jerusalem.

The Institute is also funding 18 students’ participation in the inaugural Global Internship Program this summer in Haifa, Israel.


Noam Haykeen, Undergraduate Student, conducted a research project with Professor Roy Peled, aimed at enhancing understanding of Israeli Constitutional Law as well as its interaction with US law. The proposed project consists of two efforts.

The first of the two deals with legal arrangements forming the Israeli presidency. It is expected to be included as a chapter in the Oxford Handbook of Israeli Constitutional Law, to be published later this year (or early 2022). It will present the unique characteristics of the office of the President of Israel. It will discuss its history, its relevance to Israeli democracy, and debates surrounding its future. The second proposed component compares public figures’ privacy rights in Israel and the U.S. By putting the issues in the international context, this project promotes comprehension and appreciation for Israeli law among English speakers, as well as for the importance of comparative law in the Israeli and US context.

Charles Halstead, Undergraduate Student spent summer 2021 pursuing Hebrew and Arabic language study and participating as a research volunteer in the Jewish Languages Project. The Jewish Languages Project is a joint endeavour of Wikitongues, the Hebrew Union College, and the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages with the goal of documenting and revitalizing endangered Jewish languages. Charles’ role as a volunteer was to travel around Israel and meet with speakers of endangered Jewish languages, (i.e. Ladino, Judeo-Greek, Judeo-Italian, etc.) to interview them, with the goal to prepare him to work in a conflict-resolution role focused in the Middle East after graduating.


Hadar Avivi, Graduate Student conducted a research project that addresses the impacts of neighborhood exposure on children’s long-run outcomes in adulthood, using a unique “natural experiment” in Israel, in which temporary housing (mostly caravan neighborhoods) were supplied to immigrants from Former-Soviet-Union and Ethiopia during Israel’s second mass migration at the beginning of the 1990s. As part of a collaboration with the Israeli ministry of finance, the project relies on on-site access (in Israel) to a unique matched dataset, collected by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, which includes information for all the cohorts born from 1950-2000. Having access to this unique dataset, the scholar assessed the importance of places on children’s long-run economic success and test the extent to which this effect is heterogeneous.


Janani Mohan, Undergraduate Student participated in a three day Honors Symposium of the Israel Institute, a program geared toward undergraduate students interested in Israel Studies and specifically “preparing the next generation of Israel Studies Scholars”.

Alex Barr, Undergraduate Student participated in a Semester Abroad at Hebrew University’s Rothberg School and Research with Professor Itay Fischhendler, Department of Geography, and head of the Environmental and Planning Program at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Fischendler’s research interests focused on environmental conflict resolution, natural resources governance, and decision-making under conditions of political and environmental uncertainties. The project focused on the role of water sanctions as “carrots and sticks.”


Francesco Spagnolo, Curator at The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, UC Berkeley, presented a paper at the World Congress of Jewish Studies highlighting the contributions of Israeli ethnomusicologists to the study of Jewish musical traditions in the Mediterranean (with a focus on Greece).

Shneur Wolvovsky, 3rd Year Law Student at Berkeley Law, was offered the opportunity to clerk for Justice Menachem (Meni) Mazuz of the Supreme Court of Israel for the Fall 2017 semester (September through December). The Court uses foreign law clerks primarily to research comparative law issues. As a relatively young country, many issues of first impression come before the court. Therefore, the Court often looks to the law of other jurisdictions, like the United States, for precedent. Wolvovsky’s job was to research and write about the relevant law in the United States.

Charles Culioli, 4th Year Undergraduate Student at UC Berkeley, interned at the International Institute for Counter Terrorism (IDC Herzliya) from the 29th of May to the 4th of August 2018. The internship was research-oriented; Culioli dealt with research, writing, data-gathering, and helped organizing events, conferences and so on. His main task was to work on a personal research project dealing with counterterrorism. Once completed, this project will be published by the ICT. Additionally, he started doing research for his honor thesis on the relationship between UNRWA and Hamas in the Gaza strip and took Hebrew classes.


Raphael Margarik, PhD Student, English Department with Designated Emphases in Jewish Studies and Renaissance and Early Modern Studies, UC Berkeley, examined the Jabotinsky archive in Tel Aviv, particularly Jabotinsky’s translations of Dante into Hebrew. He studied Jabotinsky’s polemical articles and poetry in pre-War Rome and studied how the city’s vortex of feuding radical sects and complex nationalist politics, as well as Italian history and literature, informed Jabotinsky’s Revisionist Zionism. He explores how the cosmopolitan and secular Jabotinsky, who held religion in contempt, read Dante’s “poema sacra.” Margarik believes the translations lead to the nexus between epics and politics.


 Nir Maoz, (Undergraduate Student, UC Berkeley), in collaboration with David Zillberman (UC Berkeley Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics) and Itai Fishhandeler (Hebrew University in Jerusalem’s Department of Geography) published a paper entitled “Sender’s Limits on Economic Energy Sanctions”.

Shaina Shealy (M.A. student in Journalism, UC Berkeley), published and article entitled “Mount Scopus Midwives”. 

Maya Benish-Weisman (Department of Counseling and Human Development, University of Haifa), published an article entitled, "Ethnic identity among Israeli Adolescents: Outcomes and Implications”.


Prof. Benjamin Brinner (Music Department, UC Berkeley) published an article entitled, “Middle Eastern Musical Intersections in Contemporary Israel”. 

Miri Lavi-Neeman (Ph.D. candidate in Geography, UC Berkeley), received a disseration support grant for “The Environmental Movement in Israel”.


Osnat Grady-Schwartz (Fulbright Scholar, Law, Hebrew University) with Prof. Kevin Quinn (Jurisprudence and Social Policy/Political Science, UC Berkeley) published a paper entitled, “International Influences and Judicial Decision-making in Israeli Courts”.

Prof. Slav W. Hermanowicz (Engineering, UC Berkeley), and Dr. Yael Perez (College of Environmental Design, UC Berkeley) received travel funds for participation in the research workshop entitled, “Design for Environmental Collaboration in the Kidron Valley,” relating to the Kidron Valley/Wadi El Nar River Basin Restoration Project." 

Prof. Malcolm Feeley (Law and Political Science, UC Berkeley) published a paper entitled, “Lessons from Israeli Privatization”.