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Rising Stars

The Tablet Fellowship welcomes a new class of 10 journalists

Tablet Magazine
February 01, 2021

Last fall, we welcomed our inaugural class of Tablet Fellows, early-career (or career-switching) journalists who joined us on a part-time basis to help us, learn from us, and—before long—teach us. The program was a huge success, and many Tablet readers got to enjoy the fellows’ writing, about topics from Jews in the World Series to the experiences of gender-nonbinary Jews to ethnoreligious discrimination during COVID-19 to the Melbourne Yiddish scene.

So what choice did we have but to do it all over again? After combing through scores more good applicants and doing lots of interviews, we have chosen the following 10 Tablet Fellows to join us from February through May:

Elisabeth Becker is a sociologist and public scholar currently residing in Berlin. She is a Jewish New Yorker who still considers Morningside Heights home, but also a modern nomad who has lived across the globe: from the American South to the British Isles. Elisabeth is author of Mosques in the Metropolis: Incivility, Caste and Contention (forthcoming with University of Chicago Press), and has written for The Washington Post, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and Tablet. Always accompanied by an excellent cup of coffee, Elisabeth spends her time reading, writing, wandering through cities, and searching for foxes with her children.

Elie Bleier has written for Time Out, Times of Israel, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Atmosphere — El Al Magazine, and Coller Venture Review. A Columbia graduate, he is currently finishing his M.A. in Philosophy at Tel Aviv University. Before school he served as a Lone Soldier in the IDF, and he is currently producing a short documentary about the subject. Elie enjoys photography, cooking, various physical activities, and his cats Matza and Genie. He speaks fluent Hebrew, intermediate Spanish, and a bit of Portuguese, all with a Midwest accent.

Cody Fitzpatrick is a recent graduate of Arizona State University, where he studied journalism and mass communication. For three years, he has been a digital writer-reporter for the Tennis Channel. Cody has also been published in the Phoenix New TimesPHOENIX magazine, Arizona PBS magazine, and more. Born Halachically Jewish but not raised in the religion, Cody is on a spiritual journey that was sparked by hearing Leonard Cohen’s dying interview with New Yorker editor David Remnick, which first introduced him to the idea that goodness can be elevated everywhere and by everyone. A Long Island native, he lives in Tempe, Arizona.

Seth Higgins is Elk County, Pennsylvania’s appointed chief clerk. When not performing his functions as a rural county’s top bureaucrat, Seth collaborates with fellow public servants, local politicians, and civic leaders in an effort to bring conservatism back to electoral politics and policy discussions. Seth earned his Master of Public Affairs degree from Brown and majored in supply chain management at the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to attending college and starting his career, Seth was enlisted in the U.S. Air Force as a C-17 Loadmaster. He is a veteran of Afghanistan and other post-9/11 conflicts. When not contemplating the future of rural America, Seth can be found sampling cheap beer, listening to the latest pop music, and mindlessly scrolling through streaming services.

Nate Jacobs is a second-year master’s student at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy. Before coming to Chicago, he spent several years in Washington, where he worked in public opinion research and public policy consulting. And before D.C., he studied history at Wesleyan. His rediscovery of the pleasures of reading and writing in the midst of running regressions for his coursework helped lead him to Tablet. He enjoys hiking, music, and reading modern history.

Claire Leibowicz leads the AI and Media Integrity Program at The Partnership on AI (PAI), a global, multistakeholder nonprofit focused on responsible artificial intelligence. Claire’s current projects center on the emergent threat of AI-generated mis/disinformation, methods for conveying media manipulations to online audiences, and content targeting and ranking systems. Despite working in technology, Claire came to work in this field from an interest in human endeavor—what do we perceive to be truthful, authentic, and real in an era where truth, fact, and authentic human experience are seemingly under threat? This broad question has not only informed Claire’s professional work, but also her academic research on how digital technologies influence people’s understanding of their visual environment at the Jewish Museum Berlin. Claire studied psychology and computer science at Harvard and got a master’s degree as a Clarendon Scholar at Balliol College, Oxford.

Mordechai Levy-Eichel is a lecturer in political science and humanities at Yale. A Sephardic yekke, he grew up in New York City, where he was home-schooled for many years. He is writing a book on the development of the modern university and the origins of the “research ideal,” and he likes to spend his free time—oh, wait, with three kiddos at home these days, he has none!

Nina B. Lichtenstein is writer, storyteller, and teacher, and a native of Oslo, Norway. She has lived in the U.S. since 1984, interrupted by stints in France, Israel, and Norway. Nina’s book, Sephardic Women’s Voices: Out of North Africa, grew out of her doctorate dissertation in French language. In 1988, Nina converted to Judaism, and she is a freshly minted American citizen (just in time to vote in the 2020 election!), making her acutely aware of what it’s like to be an outsider, and not taking “belonging” and “access” for granted. Nina has blogged as “The Viking Jewess” since 2014, and in 2020 she earned an MFA in creative writing. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, Lilith, The Forward, Tablet, and Moment. She is happy the intense child-rearing years are behind her, but she is also awed (humbled?) by how a mother is always a mother. In her newfound spare time, she enjoys kayaking, biking and hiking, and practices yoga in (desperate) search of some zen. She lives in Maine with her partner, Tony, and together they are in the process of making aliyah.

Ishai Melamede is an Israeli American from New York City. He has worked as an assistant preschool teacher, a bartender, and a sporting-goods store clerk; as a U.S. Senate campaign finance intern, a research fellow studying Israeli nationalism, and a college radio host. Ishai is interested in American politics, the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and the relationship between different Jewish communities. During nonpandemic times, you can find him at the library or playing ultimate. He holds an associate’s degree from Bard and is on leave from studying political science at Grinnell College.

David Spinrad is an ultra-Orthodox Jew with a dynamic twist. Born in Lakewood, New Jersey, David has since changed his passport to citizen of the world. As an avid traveler with a tendency of getting lost in the best way, you never really know where in the world he may be. In 2020, David was in Israel, Hong Kong, Australia, and the United States. A longtime writer of essays on Jewish thought for his Project Divrei Kodesh, he wears many other hats (besides the traditional black hat and occasional fedora), such as photographer, assistant rabbi, journalist, and now computer science student. He enjoys the simple things in life. A perfect scenario is coming home after a snowball fight with close friends, sipping hot cocoa in front of a warm fire, curled up with a good book while snow falls outside his window, and enjoying some mac and cheese while the Lord of the Rings score plays in the background. A big believer in seeking discomfort and making the universe a better place by bringing people together, he is looking forward to when the world realizes that life is too short to get hung up on the details and differences.

Top, from left: Elisabeth Becker, Elie Bleier, Cody Fitzpatrick, Seth Higgins, Nate Jacobs; Bottom, from left: Claire Leibowicz, Mordechai Levy-Eichel, Nina B. Lichtenstein, Ishai Melamede, David Spinrad
Top, from left: Elisabeth Becker, Elie Bleier, Cody Fitzpatrick, Seth Higgins, Nate Jacobs; Bottom, from left: Claire Leibowicz, Mordechai Levy-Eichel, Nina B. Lichtenstein, Ishai Melamede, David Spinrad

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