Campus: San Francisco State University -- June 02, 2003
Mazel Tov To SFSU's First-Ever Graduates In Modern
Residents of Walnut Creek, San Francisco to earn bachelor’s
degrees this month
Mazel tov! Two Bay Area residents are the first-ever San Francisco State
University students to earn bachelor’s degrees in modern Jewish
Elaine Hesselroth, 23, of Walnut Creek, and Daniel Brown, 25 of San
Francisco’s Sunset District, are among the 7,238 students who
will receive degrees from SFSU this month.
The modern Jewish studies degree program, first discussed in 1996 and
established in fall 2002, is a consortium among SFSU, San Diego State
University and California State University, Chico. It is the first such
degree in the 23-campus CSU system.
Although the degree program began only last fall, Hesselroth and Brown
were able to earn their degrees quickly because they were already enrolled
in the required courses. Hesselroth, who changed majors several times
and attended several colleges before transferring to SFSU last spring,
plans to run programs for Jewish youth in the future. She believes her
modern Jewish studies degree will open doors for her in Jewish community
organizations in the Bay Area and beyond.
“I came to SFSU with the expectation that it was a commuter college
and I wouldn’t make any friends. I’ve been pleasantly surprised
and wished I could have come sooner,” said Hesselroth, who is
considering a 10-month fellowship in Israel with Project Otzma, in which
she would improve her Hebrew skills and volunteer at schools and community
organizations. “There is something about the school that is exciting
In mid-June, Brown will begin a one-year stay in Israel, which will
include five months of living on a kibbutz. After that, he will pursue
a master’s degree in Jewish studies from the Bernard Revel Graduate
School at Yeshiva University in New York. His long-term goal is to be
a Jewish studies professor.
“Elaine and Daniel have distinguished themselves in my Jewish
Studies courses,” said Jewish Studies Acting Director Marc Dollinger,
Richard and Rhoda Goldman Chair in Jewish Studies and Social Responsibility.
“Elaine has enrolled in every course I offered this year, challenging
her classmates and instructor to rethink many common assumptions about
Jewish life and identity. Daniel brings a wealth of information to our
class on the Jewish family and has become an informal tutor on all matters
The degree program consists of about 43 required units of courses in
modern Hebrew, Jewish culture and society, history, religion and thought,
and a senior seminar. As a consortium degree with SDSU and CSU Chico,
students may take courses not offered at their home campus via distance
learning classes through the partner universities.
Founded in 1993, the SFSU Jewish Studies Program attracts a diverse
group of students from many racial and ethnic backgrounds, including
participants in SFSU’s elders programs and other community members.
Students learn a variety of Jewish history, thought and culture from
a renowned faculty that includes Director and Associate Professor Fred
Astren, who has enjoyed visiting fellowships at UC Berkeley and Oxford
University’s Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, and Dollinger.
The Marvin L. Silverman Jewish Studies Reading Room, named after one
of the program’s founding faculty, contains a special collection
of more than 2,000 academic, reference and historical books on Jewish
subjects. Most recently, the program received a donation of full original
transcripts from the post-World War II Nuremberg Trials.
For more information about the Jewish Studies Program, call (415) 338-6075,
send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org,
or visit: www.sfsu.edu/~jewish.
One of the largest campuses in the CSU system, SFSU was founded in 1899
and today is a highly diverse, comprehensive, public and urban university.
Contact: Matt Itelson (415) 338-1743; (415) 338-1665;