Orthodox Jewish Woman Named Rhodes Scholar

The Jewish Voice

For the second year in a row, an Orthodox Jewish woman has been named a recipient of the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship award. Ela Naegele, a history and philosophy major at Yale University, was one of two German citizens to be given the rare academic honor, which is presented annually to 83 students from around the world.

"The final selection took place on a Friday and consisted of a half hour interview with a panel of eight judges, as well as a formal lunch with the judges, with the president of the selection committee contacting me beforehand to discuss what exactly I would be able to eat,” Naegele disclosed to Sandy Eller of VIN News. “My happiest moment was right after my interview. I felt as though I had just completed a musical performance in which my music had reached its audience and had filled the room with a certain aura. The actual outcome, at that moment, seemed almost secondary.”

Displaying her genuine concern for other people’s feelings, Naegele admitted to experiencing some trepidation during the actual announcement. “When all finalists had completed their interviews and the committee had deliberated for a while, they called all of us into the room and announced the results,” she said. “I felt grateful and relieved, but the disappointment of the other finalists who were standing right next to me hung like a shadow over that joy.”

Naegele noted that she had been notified of the honor on Friday afternoon. “It was half an hour before Shabbat when I received the wonderful news,” explained Ms. Naegele. “I left the villa in which the interviews had been conducted and had just enough time to secure all my belongings in order to pick them up after Shabbat. I walked in my heels for almost two hours from West to East Berlin in order to spend Shabbat with my friends in the Lauder community.”

In addition to serving as co-president of the Young Israel House at Yale, where she coordinated the university’s Jewish programming, Torah classes and social events, Naegele spent a year as a full-time religious studies student at the Lauder Midrasha in Berlin.

“As an Orthodox Jew, I am deeply grateful to be named a Rhodes Scholar and am aware that I am receiving this award not only as an individual and not only as a member of my family, but additionally, as a member of the Jewish people,” she emphasized. “I hope that I will be able to use the opportunity provided by the scholarship to further increase kavod shomayim (honor of heaven) in the world.”

Click here to read the full article.