Being Jewish: A Cross-Cultural Case Study of Two Jewish Communities
Julie Pollack, Anthropology and Sociology, 2011
Thesis Advisor: Professor Rebecca Kissane

Q: When did you start thinking about your thesis?
A: While studying abroad spring of junior year. I was working on an independent research project and began thinking about extending it into a thesis.

Q: How did you start tackling your thesis project at the very beginning?
A: It all evolved from my abroad project and when I came back I focused on ways to make it a cross-cultural study.

Q: Did your advisor explain the structure of a thesis project to you?
A: Yes, Professor Kissane was helpful throughout explaining all of the aspects of the thesis.

Q: Did you have to do a literature review? Had you ever done one before?
A: Yes, I did have one and I have done smaller versions of a literature review in the past. I wrote one while I was abroad for the South African portion of my research and that helped in my familiarity with doing the one for my thesis.

Q: Do you remember receiving correspondence from the library about your honors thesis?
A: Yes, the library was SO helpful with my thesis. Anything I needed, people were there to help me!

Q: What did you find most challenging about your thesis project?
A: The ongoing nature of the project and that there was always work to be done for it.

Q: What did you find most rewarding about your thesis project?
A: Interviewing and meeting with people who opened up to me about their experiences, values and opinions. It was so rewarding to form this bond with people as I investigated their communities and my passion.

Q: What assistance did your advisor/department offer you throughout the course of the year?
A: Invaluable assistance- without them I would not have been able to complete the project. My advisor offered me resources, knowledge based on her personal experiences, as well as encouragement throughout the project.

Q: Did you meet with librarians in the course of conducting your research? How many times and at what stages of your research?
A: Yes, I met with Rebecca Metzger right at the beginning of my project and she gave me great resources to begin with. Also, throughout she would keep me updated on activities in the Lehigh Valley as well as helped with comments and suggestions as I wrote up drafts of my paper.

Q: What other kind of support did you rely on throughout the year to accomplish your thesis (IT, parents, friends, etc.)?
A: I relied on support from all areas- academically for resources, friends and parents for general encouragement and support.

Q: Were you able to get access to all of the research materials you wanted for your project?
A: I had access to even more than I could integrate into my thesis in the course of a year. There always seemed to be more interviews to do, article to read, and theories to integrate into my thesis but I had to stop at some point.

Q: Would you do anything differently if you went through the process again?
A: I would try to work on more of the writing during the first semester so it would feel more manageable during second semester when I had a lot to compile and analyze.

Q: What advice would you offer other honors thesis students, especially in your department?
A: I would tell them to go for it and write a thesis. It’s a rollercoaster ride but I am glad I gave it my all because this process showed me I could compile an interesting paper about something I truly care about. It’s so inspiring to know that I’ve contributed to the academic world and I recommend that to everyone!