Jonathan Amiri '22 | Jewish Studies Minor

Jonathan Amiri '22

While COVID-19 restrictions have made the 2020-2021 academic year turbulent, English major Jonathan Amiri ’22 has enhanced his studies by adding a Jewish Studies minor, and has never looked back.

While searching for an Explorations course for his schedule last year, Jonathan came across American Jewish Literature, taught by Dr. Holli Levitsky. Despite the fact that it ultimately did not fulfill that particular requirement, he loved the course and decided to take on the minor. Since his plans for Birthright were delayed due to travel restrictions, Jonathan took the opportunity to become an active member of the Jewish Studies Program, not only as a scholar but also as an active student leader.

Jonathan is currently enrolled in the 4 +1 program, which fosters collaboration between the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts and the School of Education. Through this program, Jonathan will earn his undergraduate degree in English, Master's degree in Education, and a credential, all within five years. While Jonathan is committed to his rigorous academic schedule, he finds that his Jewish Studies minor adds a richer perspective, making his studies more comprehensive. Some of his favorite courses have been Literature of the Holocaust and Nazi Germany and Questions of Conscience, both taught by Dr. Margarete Feinstein, and since many of his Jewish Studies courses fulfilled other requirements for his English major and Education minor, this made incorporating them into his course load very easy. 

The opportunities provided by the Jewish Studies program extend beyond the classroom. As a Jewish Studies student engagement fellow, Jonathan speaks one-on-one with students interested in the minor, as well as influential leaders in the Los Angeles Jewish community. Jonathan has also spoken at major Jewish Studies events, including the annual Kristallnacht commemoration, Yom Hashoah, and Passover celebrations, offering his own perspectives on keynotes, as well as what it means to be a Jewish student and leader on a Catholic campus. Jonathan is also working on an internship for his capstone, assisting with research for a potential Holocaust book project.

Jonathan also shares that engaging the Jewish Studies minor on both a scholarly and practical level can help Jewish students who are looking to explore Holocaust literature or media that they might not have been exposed to when growing up, an experience he has had himself. Due to the intensity of complex and traumatic images, Jewish students might feel hesitant about engaging with themes of personal identity. However, Jonathan says that Jewish Studies has helped him approach these texts and themes from an intellectual standpoint and therefore allowed him to connect deeper to his own Jewish identity. 

“I wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity to engage both my English and Jewish Studies interests with another program.” he says, “The Program community really gives that personal attention and opportunities. Even though I’ve only been in the program for a short time, I’ve been exposed to so much.” 

Jonathan plans to teach in public school after he finishes his time at LMU, desiring to bring an optimistic attitude to education and incorporate what he has learned from his minor in interdisciplinary studies with literature. He says, “I want to incorporate the Holocaust stories and books that I’ve encountered into my classroom teaching.”

Jonathan highly recommends the minor as it is rewarding beyond a major and provides many connections, opportunities, and experiences. “It is some of the most morally and ethically stimulating academic pursuits you can engage in, and the most compelling literature you can read”.