The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) today announced that Columbia University Ph.D candidate, Andrea Siegel has been awarded its prestigious 2008-09 Ralph I. Goldman Fellowship in International Jewish Communal Service. This highly-coveted fellowship enables one person each year to live and work in one or two of the 66 countries in which JDC is actively engaged.

“We selected Andrea because we believe she embodies the unique qualities for which we strive at JDC,” said Professor Deborah Lipstadt, Chairperson of the JDC’s RIG committee. “She has earned this fellowship and we’re excited to welcome her to the JDC family,” she added.

The Ralph I. Goldman Fellowship was established in 1987 and named after JDC’s honorary Executive Vice-President, who served as the organization’s top professional leader and who proved to be instrumental in the establishment of the State of Israel. The Fellowship is awarded to those who demonstrate excellence and commitment to Jewish communal service either in a professional or lay capacity. Fellows participate in JDC’s global programs through a range of unique assignments that respond to the changing needs of Jewish communities around the world. Fellows must have earned at least a Master’s Degree or an equivalent credential and demonstrate superior leadership qualities.

“The Ralph Goldman Fellowship is a unique program that allows its fellows to get their hands dirty,” said Siegel, who was attracted to the fellowship in part because of its namesake who, she believes, exemplifies a commitment to supporting scholarship and social action in the Jewish world. The former Wexner Graduate Fellow will submit her dissertation this summer for a Ph.D in Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures, with a focus on Zionism, Shoah, and Hebrew literature from Columbia University.

“My dedication to service is very personal and…has manifested primarily in my family life,” wrote Siegel, whose father is legally blind, in her application. “I want to learn what the JDC is already doing right in their commitment to empowering diverse communities: the disabled, the ill, the dying, and their caregivers,” she continued.

“After this fellowship, my goal is to hold a leadership position in the American Jewish community that promotes intercultural and interfaith support during moments of national or international crisis,” wrote Siegel. She also feels that American Jews can learn strategies and insights from others around the world.

Applications for the 2009-10 Ralph I. Goldman Fellowship are due by December 15, 2008. For more information, visit: