Kayla Levy ’19 was awarded the inaugural Ingeborg, Tamara, and Yonina Rennert Prize in Jewish Women’s Studies on April 16, 2019. The $5,000 prize is presented to a senior with an outstanding thesis and recognizes their achievements in displaying the highest standards of scholarship in Jewish studies. The award is funded by the Ingeborg, Tamara, and Yonina Rennert Forum Fund at Barnard, which was originally established by Ira and Ingeborg Rennert. President Sian Leah Beilock and Ingeborg Rennert chair of Jewish studies Beth Berkowitz both gave remarks at the ceremony.

Levy is pursuing an interdisciplinary social science degree in urban studies and sociology. Her independent research over her four years at Barnard focused on the stories of Jewish communities in both New York City and Cape Town, South Africa. For her senior thesis, Levy explored whiteness, Jewishness, and gentrification in Harlem. 

“Receiving this award for my thesis, and being its first recipient, is an acknowledgement and celebration of the intersectional and interdisciplinary elements of the Jewish studies discipline,” said Levy. “The field of Jewish studies can often seem dominated by specific historical moments or topics; however, it is also a varied discipline with many contemporary facets, and this award feels like a culmination of my studies at Barnard.” 

In addition to her academic work, Levy has produced oral histories of people affected by the criminal justice system, reported on an Ivy League sports team for the Columbia Daily Spectator, and has written for Time Out magazine and the Hearst Lifestyle Group. After graduation, she plans to pursue a career in journalism in New York City.

The award committee included professors Berkowitz, Clémence Boulouque, Elisheva Carlebach, Elizabeth Castelli, Achsah Guibbory, Janet Jakobsen, Rebecca Kobrin, and Agi Legutko.


All photos courtesy of Joy Lee '21