Research Support

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, 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”.

Alexander 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.”



“Participation in World Congress of Jewish Studies, Jerusalem, August 2017”
Francesco Spagnolo (Curator at The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, UC Berkeley)

Dr. Spagnolo presented a paper highlighting the contributions of Israeli ethnomusicologists to the study of Jewish musical traditions in the Mediterranean (with a focus on Greece).

“Clerkship for Justice Menachem Mazuz of the Supreme Court of Israel” Shneur Wolvovsky (3rd Year Law Student, Berkeley Law)

Mr. Wolvovsky 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.

“Research Internship at the International Institute for CounterTerrorism, IDC Herzliya” Charles Culioli (4th Year Undergraduate Student, UC Berkeley)

Charoles Culioli interned at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism 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.



“Jabotinsky Archive in Tel Aviv”
Raphael Margarik (PhD Student, English Department with Designated Emphases in Jewish Studies and Renaissance and Early Modern Studies, UC Berkeley)

Mr. Margarik 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.



“Sender’s Limits on Economic Energy Sanctions”
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)

“Mount Scopus Midwives”
Shaina Shealy (UC Berkeley, M.A. student in Journalism
Live podcast to stream February 29th at 2 PM on PRI, article available here.

“Ethnic identity among Israeli Adolescents: Outcomes and Implications”
Maya Benish-Weisman (University of Haifa, Department of Counseling and Human Development)



“Middle Eastern Musical Intersections in Contemporary Israel”
Prof. Benjamin Brinner (UC Berkeley, Music)

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



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

“Design for Environmental Collaboration in the Kidron Valley,”
relating to the Kidron Valley/Wadi El Nar River Basin Restoration Project

Prof. Slav W. Hermanowicz (UC Berkeley, Engineering), and Dr. Yael Perez (UC Berkeley, College of Environmental Design): Travel funds for participation in the research workshop

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