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October 1, 2015 10:12 am

‘Yiddishe Kop’: 4 Jews Among 24 MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grant Winners

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One of the four Jewish MacArthur Fellow winners, Princeton University professor and social historian Marina Rustow (pictured). Photo:: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

One of the four Jewish MacArthur Fellow winners, Princeton University professor Marina Rustow (pictured). Photo:: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

JNS.org – Four Jews have been selected among this year’s 24 MacArthur fellows. The grants of $625,000 per fellow are colloquially referred to as the “genius” grants.

Author Ben Lerner, a writer and professor at the Department of English at the City University of New York, won the grant for “seamless shifts between fiction and nonfiction, prose and lyric verse, memoir and cultural criticism, conveying the way in which politics, art and economics intertwine with everyday experience,” according to the MacArthur Foundation’s website.

Environmental health advocate Gary Cohen, who is the co-founder and president of Health Care Without Harm, won for bringing “attention to the fact that American hospitals had been major contributors to environmental pollution and had been largely ignoring the damage to local communities and environments caused by extensive use of harmful chemicals in medical devices, toxic cleaning agents, reliance on fossil fuels, and disposal of waste via incineration.”

Artist Nicole Eisenman won for her nearly four-decade-long career as a a painter, sculptor and printmaker, while Princeton University professor and Jewish studies educator Marina Rustow won for using her expertise on the Cairo Geniza texts “to shed new light on Jewish life and on the broader society of the medieval Middle East.”

Altogether, the 24 “delightfully diverse MacArthur Fellows are shedding light and making progress on critical issues, pushing the boundaries of their fields, and improving our world in imaginative, unexpected ways,” MacArthur President Julia Stasch said in a statement.

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