Every spring the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies honors a graduate by presenting them with the Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award. This year’s recipient is Miriam Saperstein, from Huntington Woods, Michigan. In addition to majoring in Judaic Studies, Sapperstein also minored in creative writing. “This award really is a reflection of my excellent professors who helped me take on challenges both academic and personal during my time in undergrad,” they commented. “It’s as much a testament to their teaching as it is to my learning.”
Faculty nominate students who have made stand out academic achievements and have achieved a grade point average of at least 3.8 in Judaic Studies courses. Professor Devi Mays noted that Saperstein was one of the most impressive students she has had the pleasure of teaching. “They are a thoughtful and astute writer, researcher, and thinker, whose classroom contributions propelled discussion forward and encouraged other students to think more deeply about entrenched historical narratives,” said Mays. “In their writings, they exhibited deep intellectual curiosity as they delved deeply into an array of scholarship to craft nuanced, provocative, and well-supported analyses. Not only did they excel in all required areas of the course, but they regularly brought materials that were unknown to me that connected to class themes but were not related to Jewish history, whether bringing Yiddish poetry and music to my attention, or graphic novels recounting the experiences of immigrants to the United States.
“Miriam Saperstein brought unique humor and creativity in class. They embraced roleplaying and improvisation and I witnessed how they brought many other people to study Yiddish through their charisma and cultural work,” commented Yiddish lecturer Elena Luchina.
Professor Bryan Roby also commented that Saperstein was a great addition to class and a driver of discussions.
After graduation, they plan on working with the U-M history department on Michigan in the World, an internship program where students, in partnership with the Bentley Historical Library and the College of Literature, Science and the Arts, develop online public exhibitions of research about the history of U-M and its relationships with the wider world. Saperstein then plans on attending Wayne State University’s Masters in Library and Information Science program. “My professors in Judaic studies were compassionate, engaging and very knowledgeable,” said Saperstein.