Portland State’s Judaic Studies minor — which can now become a major — draws diverse lot

Source: The Oregonian, 12-12-10

meir.JPGView full size Beth Nakamura, The Oregonian

Natan Meir, a PSU professor, teaches holocaust studies classes at the school.

When Rabbi Joshua Stampfer began teaching Hebrew at Portland State University in the 1960s, he didn’t plan on the school ever having a full-blown Judaic studies program or offering a major in the subject so dear to his heart. But, given the sort of guy he is, he may well have hoped it would happen.

Now it has. A successful fundraising campaign will allow PSU’s Harold Schnitzer Family Program in Judaic Studies to add a fourth, full-time professor so that it may offer a major beginning in 2012. Michael Weingrad, program director, says the hunt for an Israel studies scholar will begin next year. The new position will be named for Stampfer.

Already, the Judaic studies program serves about 500 students each year, many of whom are not Jewish and have no direct link to Judaism, Weingrad says. Some students take a class because it fits into their schedule or fulfills a university requirement. Once enrolled, many find they’re fascinated with the subject — whether it’s literature, history or modern Hebrew — and they stay on. Since 2007, it’s been possible to earn a minor in Judaic studies at PSU. Twenty students are working toward that goal now…READ MORE

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