Student Testimonials

Joshua KoganJoshua Kogan

Kent State University is a recipe made up of exceptional and unique ingredients. Undeniably, when it comes to the sweetest of ingredients, we find the Jewish Studies Program. Personally, my experience at Kent State was honeyed and enriched thanks to the Jewish Studies Program’s stimulating classes, thought-provoking discussions, motivating excursions, and inspiring speakers. The Program’s own heart, Director Chaya Kessler, has created a center of learning that is warm, deep, and full of flavor. The Jewish Studies Program at Kent State University certainly provides students with a distinctive and delectable college experience, and leaves alumni with a sweet and satisfying feeling of realization.


I just wanted to send a quick note to thank you for these past few years. Last Thursday, Josh and I went by your office to thank you, but I think we may have missed you. Hopefully, soon I will go to campus again and thank you in person. My first interaction with Kent State was of you and Josh pushing me to declare a Jewish Studies minor. I was hesitant at first, but I am so glad I did. I changed my entire Kent State experience for the better, and all thanks to you. Thank you for all the support you gave throughout my career, for the advice, for doing everything to keep all of your students engaged even outside of the classroom, either by learning more Hebrew, Yiddish or about Judaism, and for all the amazing opportunities offered by the program.

All of my favorite memories from my time in Kent come from Jewish Studies programs.

The passion you show towards the well-being of your students is admirable and does not go unnoticed. Thank you for the opportunities to go and visit Washington DC, to visit Poland, for the incredible incredible scholarship, and for all the amazing people you introduced me to. I wish you all the best, and I will definitely be keeping in touch. א שיינעם דאנק! זיי


Sincerely, Ariel Kogan Zajdman

I have had the pleasure of completing four courses so far, and one more in progress, with Professor Chaya Kessler and could not speak more highly of her. She has a wealth of education surrounding Jewish Studies and linguistics and has also been the professor that pushed me my hardest to think critically. Chaya encouraged me to apply for scholarships and advised me in ways to reach out for help that have ultimately led me to the achievement of reaching my junior year here at Kent State. She has encouraged me through my most trying times here and helped me understand and purse my goals as a student and a person.

Without Professor Kessler I truthfully would have given up my degree during these unprecedented times, she has made education enjoyable, accessible and something to look forward to.

I hope to one day be a professor and provide the same level of passion, genuine interest and empathy for my students as Chaya has. I feel incredibly lucky to have found the Jewish Studies program here at Kent and owe many of my achievements to the wonderful director that has helped me through it.

Ivy Schoch
History Major
Jewish Studies Minor
Class of 2022

Matthew BrancoMatthew Branco

The opportunity I had to be a Jewish Studies minor lead me to experience an incredible amount of Jewish culture through the courses I took. I was initially drawn to the idea of becoming a minor by Chaya Kessler while I was taking one of her Hebrew courses to fulfill my language requirement for my major. With the opportunity to fund my education through the Melton scholarship and learn more about Jewish culture I was glad to become a JS minor. I was enlightened to a tradition quite different from my own and met many inspiring wonderful people. I took a trip to the Holocaust Museum, saw the Maltz Museum in Cleveland, and was very tempted to spend a semester abroad in Israel.

Overall I am grateful that I pursued this course work during my time at Kent State. I am also very grateful for the existence of the Samuel Melton scholarship which helped ease my financial burden during my education. If you want an opportunity that will absolutely be beneficial to your college career you should consider being a Jewish Studies minor.

Mara CashMara Cash

My first semester freshman year, I took a Hebrew class with Chaya Kessler to fulfill my foreign language requirements. I had never considered having a minor in Jewish Studies, because I didn't feel like it applied to my career path. I am forever grateful that Chaya pushed me to officially pick up the minor during my second semester. The Jewish Studies minor is much more than an addition to your transcript and resume, and has far more value than the scholarship you can receive with it. It has become an integral part of my growth as a college student, as well as my growth as Jewish person. I highly recommend this minor to anyone who is seeking to further explore their Jewish identity, or anyone who has a desire to learn about other cultures and religions. You will not be disappointed!

Marni Altman
Marni Altman

My name is Marni Altman. I am a Junior at Kent State University with a major in Speech Pathology and Audiology and a minor in Jewish Studies. The Jewish Studies program at Kent State has opened so many doors for me. It has given me a scholarship, exposed me to classes that I loved that I would have never thought of taking otherwise, and introduced me to people that would later become some of my best friends. Through the classes, I was able to expand my horizons and learn more about the culture that I know and love! I cannot thank the Jewish Studies Program enough for all the opportunities it has given me!

Cierra GreeneCiera Greene

When I first heard about the Jewish Studies minor, I had no idea the opportunities I would have as I went through my college career. Throughout my time as a Jewish Studies minor, I had earned a scholarship and was able to travel to Israel. Some of the requirements in the minor are to take a few history classes about Judaism and how it has progressed over its lifetime. The classes I have taken with the minor have opened up my eyes more about the religion and I understand it better than what I did. I am so glad I was able to pick up this minor and I encourage all to pick it up as well. You will learn so much from it!

Aref JadallahAref Jadallah

In the fall of 2012 I finished up the coursework for my Jewish Studies minor at Kent State University. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Jewish Studies program for not only allowing me to take advantage of the Samuel Melton Foundation scholarship each semester, but also for allowing me to diversify my world view and achieve a new understanding of Jewish history, life, and culture. The courses that I have taken in pursuing my minor have proven to be some of the most interesting and eye opening courses that I have taken in my time at Kent State; and with extremely knowledgeable and approachable instructors, the courses were as enjoyable as they were insightful. I would strongly recommend that any student at Kent State University minor in Jewish Studies!

Evan GildenblattEvan Gildenblatt

By allowing me to pursue my interest in the field of Jewish studies, the Melton Scholarship enabled me to experience all that the KSU Jewish Studies Program has to offer. The unique combination of history, religious studies, language, philosophy, and politics will help to continue a storied legacy of Jewish learning, and I feel that Samuel Melton would be proud of our program.

Christopher HawkinsChristopher Hawkins

I am writing this letter to express my gratitude toward the Jewish Studies Program. I was introduced to the Jewish Studies minor through Chaya Kessler while I was fulfilling my language requirements in her Hebrew class. As a student of Philosophy, I have always been interested in ancient cultures. This is why I chose Hebrew as my language of choice. Not only was the Jewish Studies minor very educational about Jewish history but also European and American history. In addition, being a Jewish Studies minor made me eligible for a scholarship which I received, and it was very helpful in paying for the expenses of education.  

Aside from the benefits of being a Jewish Studies minor, Chaya Kessler was the most helpful staff member I've encountered throughout the duration of my seven years at Kent State University. Not only did she go out of her way to inform me of the scholarship, she also made sure I got credit for every class I took, and she made it possible for me to be ready for graduation when I hoped. She is an inspirational educator who has genuine concern for the success of her students. I learned a lot from the program and owe a good deal of my confidence to her encouragements.

Candice NemoffCandice Nemoff

Candice Nemoff graduated in December 2013 with a BFA in Theatre Design and Technology, and minors in Jewish Studies and Religion Studies. She is very excited to be starting her theatrical career, and is moving to Philadelphia in the spring for an internship. Her time at Kent State would not have been so incredible without the generosity and encouragement from the Jewish Studies Program and specifically Chaya Kessler.

Candice would personally like to thank the Samuel Melton Scholarship Foundation for her scholarships throughout her Kent State Career. She was also blessed to be able to work for the Jewish Studies Program and learned a lot of useful information from her time there. She enjoyed her classes in Hebrew, comparative religion, and Jewish studies. She was also very lucky to able to participate in the semi-annual May intersession trip to Israel in 2012. This was not her first time in Israel though; she had already spent Spring 2011 at Tel Aviv University, and loved every minute of it. Through her time at Kent State, she has become prepared to be a Jewish leader and educator and this would not have been possible without Chaya and the Jewish Studies Program.

Emily LangEmily Lang

My name is Emily Lang and I am currently a senior at Kent State University. I am majoring in History with a minor in Jewish Studies and I am graduating in May 2011. The Jewish Studies Program at Kent State changed my undergraduate career and ultimately my career goals. I first was introduced to the program in Fall of 2009. I participated in a weekend trip to D.C. that was co- sponsored by the Jewish Studies Program and the Pan-African Department. I found out about all of the great courses and opportunities the program offered; I knew I had to be part of it. 

I became a Jewish Studies minor in the spring semester of 2009. Through my minor, I have had the opportunities to take coursework like Zionism and Israel and Jewish Women. I attended many programs sponsored by the program such as Holocaust survivor Betty Gold and Kabala expert David Ariel. I have been able to take an individual investigation with Jewish Studies professor, Sol Factor, where I took a closer look at the history of Jews in film and theater.  

This past year, I became an intern with the Jewish Studies Program. Under the supervision of the chair, Chaya Kessler, I helped organize programs, recruit minors, and expand the program. We brought in directors of documentaries and experts in subjects like Ladino. My favorite experience was taking a group of 50 college students to the National Holocaust Memorial Museum in early April. Through my work in the program, I was very fortunate enough to receive the Student Leadership Award from the College of Arts and Sciences.  

Before I was a Jewish Studies minor, I was not quite sure what career path I wanted to pursue. However, the Jewish Studies Program gave me the opportunity to take on an internship with the Ohio Historical Society last summer. This internship helped me decide to pursue a career in public history. This fall, I am starting graduate school for Museum Studies at SUNY Oneonta. I hope someday to work in a Jewish museum or historical institution. Wherever my career path takes me, I know the Kent State Jewish Studies Program helped me get there.