JBuzz Profiles May 16, 2012: Michail Kitsos: Gratz College Goes Greek




Gratz Goes Greek

Source: The Jewish Exponent, 5-16-12
Michail Kitsos is the first student to travel all the way from Greece to take classes at Gratz College’s Melrose Park campus.

He’s also the first Greek Orthodox Christian to become valedictorian.

And the 32-year-old is the first graduate whom Gratz administrators immediately hired to create a brand new certificate program, in Jewish-Christian Studies.

Rabbinics scholar Michail Kitsos

On Sunday, the college will recognize Kitsos and 294 fellow graduates at commencement ceremonies. Halfway across the world, Kitsos’ 72-year-old mother will lean in to her computer to watch as her son receives his master’s degree in Jewish Studies with a specialization in rabbinics.

Unlike Kitsos, the vast majority — 252 to be exact — will receive their master’s degrees in education, a secular program started in the late ’90s primarily for existing school teachers. That, along with other new general market programs, has helped fund the Judaic initiatives the college was founded to serve in 1895.

The other 43 studied Jewish subjects: 18 earned master’s degrees; one a bachelor’s degree and others, certificates in topics such as Jewish Early Childhood Education, Holocaust Studies and Jewish Non-Profit Leadership, administrators said.

So how did a devout Christian from Greece end up among such a small, niche group of rabbinics students at a Jewish college in Philadelphia? Curiosity, patience and the Internet, according to Kitsos.

Ever since he first learned biblical Hebrew as part of his undergraduate course work in Christian Theology in Greece, “I felt an attraction to Judaism and to the texts,” said Kitsos….READ MORE