JBuzz News July 24, 2014: Former Senator Joe Lieberman To Take Professor Post At Yeshiva University




Lieberman To Take Professor Post At YU

Source: The Jewish Week, 6-24-14‎

“We are thrilled to welcome Senator Lieberman, whose public life and values serve as a model for our students, especially those who aspire to careers in public service while embracing Orthodox Judaism,” said Dr. Selma Botman, university provost…READ MORE

JBuzz News June 21, 2014: Jewish Museum Berlin appoints non-Jewish Peter Schafer as new director




Jewish Museum Berlin appoints new director

Source: The Times of Israel, 6-21-14

Peter Schafer, a German academic who had previously led Princeton University’s Judaic studies program, will take the reins of the Jewish Museum Berlin as of September 1, according to an announcement made Friday….READ MORE

JBuzz News August 1, 2013: Rabbi Aaron Panken named the new president of Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion




Aaron Panken, a pilot who will head Reform rabbinical school, eyes horizon

Source: JTA, 8-1-13

Rabbi Aaron Panken. (Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion)

Rabbi Aaron Panken. (Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion)

With this week’s announcement that Rabbi Aaron Panken will be the new president of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the temple in suburban New York now has produced two major Reform leaders in two years. (The other is Rabbi Rick Jacobs, who two years ago ceded the pulpit of the Scarsdale synagogue to become president of the Union for Reform Judaism….READ MORE

JBuzz Musings July 29, 2013: After elections for Israel’s chief rabbis calls for reform, inclusion linger




After elections for Israel’s chief rabbis calls for reform, inclusion linger (Video)

By Bonnie K. Goodman

This past Wednesday, July 24, 2013 Israel’s long and bitterly fought race to elect the next chief rabbis ended with the election Rabbi David Lau, 47 as the Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi and Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, 61 as the Sephardic Chief Rabbi…READ MORE

JBuzz News July 14, 2013: Hillel taps Eric Fingerhut, former congressman, as CEO and president




Hillel taps Eric Fingerhut, former congressman, as CEO and president

Source: JTA, 7-14-13

Eric Fingerhut, a former U.S. congressman and leader of Ohio’s system of public universities and colleges, has been tapped to serve as the next president and CEO of Hillel….READ MORE

JBuzz News January 17, 2013: Jeffrey Shoulson: Judaic Studies Expert Joins University of Connecticut Faculty




Judaic Studies Expert Jeffrey Shoulson Joins UConn Faculty

Source: UConn Advance (blog), 1-17-13

That ambition is part of the overall approach to Judaic Studies at UConn, which grew last year not only with Shoulson’s appointment, but with the arrival of Professor Susan Einbinder from Hebrew Union College as well, joining Professor Stuart Miller…READ MORE

JBuzz News December 3, 2012: Baruch Halpern: Renowned scholar joins University of Georgia as Covenant Foundation Professor of Jewish Studies




Renowned scholar Baruch Halpern joins UGA as Covenant Foundation Professor of Jewish Studies

Source: Online Athens, 12-3-12

An internationally recognized scholar whose work combines ancient history, archeology and religious studies has joined the University of Georgia as the inaugural holder of the Covenant Foundation Professor of Jewish Studies….READ MORE

JBuzz News September 10, 2012: Michael Rosenzweig: Former Jewish History museum leader gets new job at Pardes Institute




Former Jewish History museum leader gets new job

Source: Bizjournals.com (blog), 9-10-12

The former head of the National Museum of American Jewish History has a new post in Israel. Michael Rosenzweig will be president and CEO of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, he announced in a press release Sunday….READ MORE

JBuzz News February 13, 2012: Jason Marantz: Manitoban appointed chief executive of the London School of Jewish Studies




Manitoban to head Jewish school in London

Source: Winnipeg, Free Press, 2-13-12

Manitoban Jason Marantz hopes to bring Jewish adult education and teacher training programs to a new audience after being appointed chief executive of the London School of Jewish Studies Monday.

Marantz, 37, said he is excited about the new position.

“My aim is to firmly establish LSJS as the leading light in the provision of both teacher training and adult education in the UK Jewish community for future generations,” Marantz told The Jewish Post and News.

In his new role, Marantz will be responsible for budgeting and fundraising as well as management of the school.

Born in Winnipeg, Marantz completed his bachelor of arts at the University of Manitoba. In 1999, he moved to the UK to pursue a masters in literacy learning and literacy difficulties before becoming the head of the Wolfson Hillel Jewish Primary School in London.

Dianne Ashton: Rowan University professor is new editor of Jewish American history journal




Dianne_edited.jpgRowan University professor Dianne Ashton is the first female editor of American Jewish History

As a professor of religion studies at Rowan University, a published author and — now — the first female editor in the 118-year history of the “American Jewish History” journal, Dianne Ashton says she doesn’t know where she finds the time. But she loves every minute of it.

“It’s great just to be the editor. The fact that I’m the first woman is just really a matter of historical events,” said Ashton of her new position at the helm of the premier journal on the study of Jewish history in America. “It’s an extreme honor and great responsibility to be the editor of a very important journal on the American Jewish experience. It has a great reputation, and it’s my responsibility to keep that up.”

Ashton said, in her new role, she has to learn quickly.

“A journal has to come out on time, and it’s a fairly complicated process,” said Ashton. “The articles are submitted, I review them and then each one goes to two scholars for review. They come back to me, I edit them and then they go back to the authors for revisions. All this must happen before they reach the publisher so there’s a lot of pressure to keep moving.”

Ashton said the editor role is also unpredictable. She doesn’t always know when articles will come across her desk, how long it will take for scholars to submit reviews or who might need to be reminded of a deadline.

“I have learned to nag politely,” said Ashton, with a laugh.

American Jewish History explores the role of Jewish Americans in events throughout the country’s history, including some involvements that were largely unknown….READ MORE

Ari Y. Kelman: To chair concentration in education and Jewish studies at Stanford University




Source: Stanford Daily News, 11-28-11

The School of Education appointed Ari Y. Kelman the inaugural Jim Joseph Chair in Education and Jewish Studies, a position and concentration funded by a $12 million gift from the Jim Joseph Foundation, the largest gift in the history of the School of Education.

Kelman was previously a professor in American studies at the University of California-Davis, where he was a leading scholar in contemporary Jewish life, with an emphasis on ethnic identity, media and American religious culture. Kelman will lead the new School of Education concentration in education and Jewish studies.

“Kelman’s appointment strengthens ongoing work at Stanford on the interactions of religion, ethnicity, identity and education and may well prefigure future growth in this area,” said Lee Shulman, Charles E. Ducommun professor emeritus of education, in a press release.

Kelman will design the new concentration and facilitate collaboration between the School of Education and the Taube Center for Jewish Studies.

Kelman is the author of “Station Identification: A Cultural History of Yiddish Radio” and the editor of “Sacred Strategies” and “Is Diss a System?: a Milt Gross Comic Reader

Paul Bartop: Prestigious US posting for Holocaust scholar




Paul Bartrop

AN Australian Holocaust and genocide scholar has been awarded a prestigious professorship in the United States.

Professor Paul Bartrop, a former head of history at Melbourne’s Bialik College, will take up his post next month as the first Australian to hold the Ida E King Distinguished Visiting Pro fessorship in Holocaust and Genocide studies at Richard Stockton College in New Jersey.

Previous scholars who have held the post include Michael Berenbaum, Yehuda Bauer and the late Franklin H Littell.

Prof Bartrop will teach a master’s program on Asian and African genocides, focusing on Cambodia, Timor Leste, Rwanda and Darfur.

“Stockton is the first university in the US to run a full graduate course in Holocaust and genocide studies,” Prof  Bartrop told The AJN.

As one of the top 50 liberal arts colleges in the US, it is significant that Stockton has such an extensive Holocaust and genocide studies curriculum, he said.

Prof Bartrop, who has been involved with the Melbourne Jewish Holocaust Centre (JHC) since its inception in 1985, is an honorary consultant to the centre and helped rewrire the text used in its recently relaunched museum display….READ MORE

Ellen Smith Named Director of Brandeis University’s Hornstein Program



Source: Brandeis Now, 7-21-11

Ellen SmithPhoto/Mike Lovett

Ellen Smith has been named director of the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program at Brandeis University.

Smith has been an associate professor at Hornstein, as well as an affiliate faculty member in the Department of Near East and Judaic Studies. She also co-directs advanced training programs at Brandeis for Jewish professionals and organizations.

Hornstein offers four graduate-level dual-degree programs.

“Hornstein is the only location that is able to integrate these degrees, that is also a leader in non-profit and social justice management,” Smith said.

She begins her post as director on July 1. Joseph H. and Belle R. Professor of American Jewish History Jonathan Sarna, with whom she’s collaborated on various projects for the past 20 years and who is a past director, has been named chair of the program.

“We’re excited to be working together again,” Smith says. “We’re a very happy team.”

Smith is also a principal of Museumsmith, a firm specializing in museum exhibitions and historic site interpretations throughout the nation. She is a former of the American Jewish Historical Society and the National Museum of American Jewish History. Trained as both an academic historian and a museum curator, Smith has published more than three-dozen books, articles and catalogs including “The Jews of Boston, which she co-edited with Sarna.

A popular speaker locally and throughout the country, Smith sits on numerous academic and civic advisory boards, and is past president of Boston’s Leventhal-Sidman Jewish Community Center.

“Her dedication to the Hornstein program ensures both a smooth transition and strong leadership ahead,” Sarna says.

Connie Wolf: Jewish Museum director to head Cantor center — will join Stanford museum’s staff Jan. 1, 2012




Source: Palto Alto Online, 7-21-11

Connie Wolf, who heads San Francisco’s Contemporary Jewish Museum as its director and CEO, will return to her college roots on Jan. 1. She’s becoming the new director of the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in East Asian studies in 1981.

Wolf, who has worked at the Jewish Museum since 1999, has shepherded the institution through major change. The small museum grew from a 2,500-square-foot building to a dramatic 63,000-square-foot space near Yerba Buena Gardens, where it moved in 2008. During that time, Wolf raised $85 million and worked with architect Daniel Libeskind to develop the facility plans, according to a Cantor center press release.

The Cantor’s current director, Thomas K. Seligman, is retiring after heading the museum since 1991. He plans to continue teaching and doing research at Stanford, where one of his major focuses has been African art.

Nancy Troy, who chairs Stanford’s art and art history department, said in a press release that choosing Wolf is an innovative move.

“Hiring someone whose background is not squarely in the history of art is a move that is unexpected and daring for Stanford — and yet this is the moment for this, to think differently and be open to new directions, building upon the firm foundation that Tom Seligman and his staff have built over the last 20 years,” she said.

Previously, Wolf served as associate director for public programs and curator of education at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. For the Jewish Museum’s current exhibition “Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories,” she also connected with her Stanford background: The lead guest curator was Wanda Corn, emeritus Stanford art professor.

Deborah Lipstadt Appointed to U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council


Source: Emory University News, 6-9-11

News Article ImageEmory University professor Deborah Lipstadt has been appointed to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. President Barack Obama announced June 7 his intent to appoint her and other individuals to key posts in his administration.

Lipstadt is the Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory and one of the leading Holocaust scholars in the United States.

She is the author of the recently published “The Eichmann Trial.”  Her book “History on Trial: My Day in Court with David Irving” is the story of her libel trial in London against David Irving, who sued her for calling him a Holocaust denier.

Lipstadt was an historical consultant to the U.S. Holocaust Museum and helped design the section of the museum on the American response to the Holocaust. President Bill Clinton previously appointed her to two terms on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council.

From 1996 to 1999 she served on the U.S. State Department Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom Abroad. In this capacity she, together with other leaders and scholars, advised Secretary of State Madeline Albright on matters of religious persecution abroad.  In 2005 she represented former President George W. Bush at the 60th anniversary commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz.

Obama appoints three to Holocaust council

Source: JTA, 6-10-11

President Obama appointed a pioneer of the Taglit-Birthright Israel program, a prominent Holocaust historian and a top Jewish Democratic activist to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, which governs the national Holocaust museum in Washington, D.C.

The White House announced  the three appointees in a June 7 statement.

Nancy Brooks Gilbert, the CEO of Travels and Dialogues, an Israel tourism specialty outfit, designed the itinerary pilot trip for Taglit-Birthright, the program that brings Jewish adults aged 26 and under to Israel for the first time. Gilbert, who is active in South Florida Jewish groups, including the South Palm Beach County Jewish Federation, sponsors a village for orphans of the Rwandan genocide modeled on those Israel built for young survivors of the Holocaust.

Deborah Lipstadt, a professor in Holocaust studies at Emory University, successfully defended a libel suit brought by David Irving after she described him as a Holocaust denier. She has twice served as a a member of the museum’s council and helped design its section on the American response to the Holocaust.

Marc Stanley is the president of the National Jewish Democratic Council and also a vice-chairman of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the umbrella body for public policy groups. He has served as a president of the Dallas Home for the Jewish Aged.

Zvi Stampfer: Visiting Fulbright Scholar will teach, conduct research at Bucknell University

Source: Bucknell University News, 6-9-11

A professor and top researcher from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem will join Bucknell University for the upcoming academic year as a Fulbright Scholar in Sephardic studies.

Zvi Stampfer, who also is an ordained rabbi and has a law degree, currently teaches at the Ben-Zvi Institute in Jerusalem. Proficient in English, German, Arabic and various ancient languages, Stampfer has edited and translated books about the laws of divorce and Jewish law.

While at Bucknell, Stampfer will research medieval Iraq and Spain as “interfaith breeding grounds for jurisprudential cross-fertilization,” examining and comparing Jewish law as it was shaped in medieval Iraq and Andalusia. He also will teach two courses — Sephardic Jews: Muslim-Jewish Cultural Interaction in the Middle Ages and Topics in Sephardic Judaism: Sexuality in Jewish and Islamic Law.

Rivka Ulmer, professor of Jewish studies at Bucknell and chair of the Department of Religion, said Stampfer’s research and expertise as a top scholar in his field is of “utmost importance” to the understanding of Judaism and Jewish-Muslim relations. His visit to Bucknell will allow students the opportunity to learn about the origins of today’s conflicts in the Middle East, many of which stem from events in medieval times.

“This is a unique opportunity for our students to learn about Judaism beyond the recent crises,” Ulmer said. “I hope that students will learn, through their interactions with Professor Stampfer, that Israel is a normal country with top scientists in many fields and a culture that promotes creative learning. Almost everything in modern Judaism is an outcome of rabbinic Judaism of late antiquity and the Middle Ages or a reaction to it.”

Derek Penslar: Oxford University appoints Israel studies professor with £3m donation

Source: Guardian UK, 5-26-11

Derek Penslar will take up post as a fellow of St Anne’s college next year to study the country’s history ‘within a global context’

Students outside an Oxford University building

Students pass an Oxford University library. A new professor has been appointed by the institution to research Israel’s history. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian

Oxford University has appointed its first chair of Israel studies to research the economics, society and politics of the Jewish state, following a £3m benefaction by a charitable foundation.

Derek Penslar, professor of Jewish history at Toronto university, will take up the post next year as a fellow of St Anne’s College. He said he regarded himself as under an obligation to “strive for political neutrality” and would study Israel “within a global context”. “One cannot understand Zionism without studying the history of nationalism, both within Europe and as a reaction against European colonialism.

“One cannot understand Israeli politics, or the relationship between the Israeli state and its military, outside of the framework of Arab-Israeli relations and the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Penslar told the Guardian in an email. “Israel’s economy is, particularly in recent years, very much a product of trends towards globalization.”

Commenting on the question of neutrality, he said: “I do believe that when people study a part of the world closely, and as they develop a more nuanced and sophisticated understanding of its history, politics and culture, they develop empathy for even mutually-opposed parties, which tends to moderate extreme, rigid political orthodoxies. But it does not overthrow long-held political convictions, nor should it.”

Penslar will be the first Stanley Lewis professor of Israel studies, a chair created with a £3m benefaction from the Stanley and Zea Lewis family foundation.

He is jointly appointed by the school of interdisciplinary area studies, and the department of politics and international relations.

Professor Roger Goodman, head of the social sciences division at Oxford, said: “Israel plays a key part in the debate about the Middle East, and Professor Derek Penslar is a foremost scholar of its history and politics. This chair and his appointment give Oxford a fantastic opportunity to expand its research into this important area of the world and to become a major global centre for the study of contemporary Israel.”…READ MORE

Menachem Mor: Visiting professor to help in creation of Jewish studies program

Source: The Pendulum, Elon University, 4-26-11
Menachem Mor

Menachem Mor from the University of Haifa visited Elon University last week and plans to assist in the development of a Jewish studies program on campus. Photo by Marlena Chertock.

A professor of Jewish history from University of Haifa in Israel joined Elon University last week, with plans to assist the university as it develops a proposed Jewish studies program.

Menachem Mor spent the week with his friend Yoram Lubling, professor of philosophy at Elon. They wanted to spend the Passover holiday together, said Mor, who joined Elon Hillel for Passover Seder, a dinner that commemorates the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt.

“I was very impressed by the fact that it’s supported by the president,” Mor said of Elon’s Passover Seder. “It was a very impressive evening. It was a short version, but still, that’s enough.”

Lubling and Mor met 20 years ago at Creighton University in Nebraska, where Mor was the Klutznick Chair for Jewish Civilization and Lubling taught philosophy.

This year, Mor is a visiting professor of Jewish studies at the University of Virginia.

He will help in the creation and brainstorming of ideas for Elon’s program, which is still currently being developed. He served as the dean of the faculty of humanities at the University of Haifa for many years and has experience in Jewish studies.

During the next few years, Mor said he will be involved in conferences and sharing ideas for Elon’s program.

“I think it’s a great education process that will be very helpful for all of the students that are here,” he said. “First of all, Elon has a nice group of Jewish students. It will be a good occasion for them to study more about their Jewishness. For non-Jewish students it will be a nice opportunity to get acquainted, learn about Judaism and take away some of the stereotypes.”…READ MORE

Lori Lefkovitz: Top scholar first to hold Jewish Studies chair

Source: Northeastern University News, 12-1-10

Top scholar first to hold Jewish Studies chair

Lori Lefkovitz has been named the inaugural holder of the Ruderman Professorship of Jewish Studies at Northeastern University Photo by Lauren McFalls

Renowned scholar Lori Lefkovitz has been named the inaugural holder of the Ruderman Professorship of Jewish Studies at Northeastern University and the director of Northeastern’s Jewish Studies program.

Alumnus Morton Ruderman, COE, ’59, and his wife, Marcia, made the chair possible through a generous donation.

“The Ruderman’s commitment to the Jewish community and the study of its history and culture will be enriched by the appointment of Lori Lefkovitz. She is an outstanding scholar whose love of teaching and engagement with the Jewish community will elevate the impact of Jewish studies at Northeastern,” said Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern University.

Before coming to Northeastern in August 2010, Lefkovitz was the Sadie Gottesman and Arlene Gottesman Reff Professor of Gender and Judaism at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and the founding director of the College’s Kolot: Center for Jewish Women’s and Gender Studies.

“Our family welcomes Professor Lefkovitz as the new Ruderman Professor of Jewish Studies at Northeastern,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation.

“We believe that her passion for Jewish life and scholarship coupled with Northeastern’s unique co-op program will have a profound positive impact on the Jewish community of Greater Boston and beyond.”

To Northeastern, Lefkovitz brings a diverse background that includes interdisciplinary training in Jewish Studies and program development, specifically training in literature and critical theory and experience teaching both Bible and modern and contemporary Jewish literature.

“Professor Lefkovitz is the right leader at the right time to lead Northeastern’s Jewish Studies program. She is a gifted and talented scholar whose expertise and knowledge undoubtedly will enhance the program’s mission to develop future leaders, to nourish Jewish identity in the modern world, and to represent Judaism in the public sphere,” said Georges Van Den Abbeele, Dean of the College of Social Sciences and Humanities.

Lefkovitz hopes to establish strong relationships with the Jewish community through co-op and student life, work with Northeastern’s talented faculty to expand the program’s curriculum and coordinate events and conferences. The goal of these efforts, she says, is to further increase student interest in the program.

“I am honored to have been selected for this position,” said Lefkovitz, “and excited and challenged by this opportunity. A full-time chaired position is an expression of commitment to Jewish Studies and opens the possibility of developing a first-rate program that emerges from Northeastern’s unique strengths.”…READ MORE

Frederick Lawrence: Civil rights scholar named new Brandeis president

GW Law School Dean Frederick Lawrence.
With endowment falling and various controversies afoot, GW Law School dean will look to bolster financial aid.

Growing up in Port Washington, L.I., Frederick Lawrence thought he’d have a career in politics or teaching.

But in high school, animated by the civil rights and anti-war movements and inspired by the role attorneys were playing as agents “of social change,” he decided to become a lawyer.

Some four decades later, after working as a civil rights lawyer and law school dean, Lawrence is taking a position at the highest rung of academia.

Lawrence, 55, was last week named the next president of Brandeis University, the non-sectarian school under Jewish auspices in Waltham, Mass. On Jan. 1, 2011 he will succeed Jehuda Reinharz, who will become head of the Mandel Foundation, an international philanthropy.

Since 2005 Lawrence has served as dean of the George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C.

He comes to Brandeis at a time when the school is under fire from several directions. In recent years Brandeis has drawn criticism for the controversy over last spring’s invitation to Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren to serve as commencement speaker; for its announced plans to sell its extensive modern art collection and close its Rose Art Museum because of a growing deficit; for its “team-taught” Middle East studies class that features Israeli, Egyptian and Palestinian instructors…READ MORE

Civil rights scholar named new Brandeis president

Source: Boston Globe, 7-8-10

Brandeis University today named Frederick M. Lawrence, dean of George Washington Law School and a former Boston University law professor, as its eighth president.


Lawrence, a prominent civil rights scholar who once headed the national legal affairs committee of the Anti-Defamation League, will succeed long-time president Jehuda Reinharz in January when he steps down after 16 years to lead a Jewish foundation focused on leadership education.Lawrence will come to the Waltham school amid financial upheaval as the small research college with Jewish roots and a strong liberal arts focus works to position itself for the future and raise its profile as a world-class institution.

“This is a compelling opportunity for me to be a part of furthering and building a research college, a liberal arts college that is an anchor for a great university,” Lawrence said in a phone interview. “As a non-sectarian school with deep roots in the Jewish community, Brandeis pulls together various strands of my life in a way that is unique in higher education.”…READ MORE

Jonathan Brent Appointed Ex. Director of one of the world’s most important archives of Jewish life, YIVO Institute for Jewish Research

Former editorial director of Yale University Press and general editor of its celebrated Annals of Communism series is now in charge of one of the world’s most important archives of Jewish life

Source: Chronicle of Higher Ed (7-15-09)

One of the world’s most important archives of Jewish life, the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, in New York, has a new executive director. Jonathan Brent, 59, lately the editorial director of Yale University Press and general editor of its celebrated Annals of Communism series, assumed the post on July 1.

Unlike his work on the Annals series, his new job will not require that he be ready to drink and smoke heavily.

He laughs heartily when that subject comes up. He secured his reputation as one of America’s leading academic editors by venturing to Russia, beginning in the early 1990s, to explore the vast archives of Soviet-era power. He says he encountered many lazy, venal, and anti-Semitic archivists who had become chiefs of small fiefdoms in a tattering system, and he found that nothing opened their doors as effectively as cartons of Winstons, Western-style food, and plenty of Jack Daniel’s.

“Let me put it this way,” Mr. Brent says in a husky voice that seems to bear out his point. “A Russian general once quipped to a Polish diplomat: Once you Poles learn how to drink with Russians, then you can negotiate with Russians.”

Experts in Soviet history and politics have hailed the Annals series as one of the most ambitious archival publishing projects of all time. It has breathed new life into Soviet studies with 20 volumes, most of them edited collections of documents on such key events as the Great Terror, collectivization, and the gulag. The series’ first publication was Harvey Klehr, John E. Haynes, and Fridrikh I. Firsov’s The Secret World of American Communism (1995), which shocked even true believers by detailing how much the American branch of the party had been at Moscow’s beck and call….

Abby Joseph Cohen: JTS to get first woman chair, as Kekst steps down

JTS to get first woman chair, as Kekst steps down

Source: JTA, 6-12-09

Plenty of attention was focused on Rabbi Ismar Schorsch’s stepping down as chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and the search process that tapped Arnie Eisen as his replacement. Now another major changing of the guard is taking place: Gershon Kekst is stepping down as chairman of the board after 18 years. His successor will be Goldman Sachs executive  Abby Joseph Cohen, the first woman to hold the JTS position.

Here’s the full media release:

New York, NY, June 12, 2009—Abby Joseph Cohen, Senior Investment Strategist and President of the Global Markets Institute at Goldman Sachs, has been named the first woman to chair the Board of Trustees of The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) effective July 1. She succeeds Gershon Kekst, founder and President of Kekst and Company Incorporated.

Ms. Cohen, one of the most prominent women on Wall Street, joined the JTS board in 2004. Her involvement with JTS has spanned many areas, including committee work on governance and investment and service on the chancellor search committee. Ms. Cohen was honored by JTS in 2001 with the Louis Marshall Award, presented to individuals who demonstrate the philanthropic commitment embodied by Louis Marshall, an esteemed constitutional lawyer and former board chair of JTS. Ms. Cohen joined Goldman Sachs in 1990, where her work is focused on the intersection of economic trends, public policy, and financial markets. She provides research and counsel to investors, corporations, and governments around the world.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have the experience and insight that our new chair, Abby Joseph Cohen, brings to JTS,” said Professor Arnold M. Eisen, Chancellor of JTS. “I have gotten to know her—since her pointed questions to me when I appeared before the chancellor search committee—as a probing intellect and a wise, committed, and caring human being. She is not only a visionary leader in finance, but a dedicated philanthropist in a number of areas, particularly higher education and the preparation of future Jewish leaders. Abby is deeply committed to Judaism and to JTS. I am excited at the prospect of working with her closely in the months and years to come.

“Abby assumes the helm of the JTS board from Gershon Kekst, whose tenure has been marked by years of incomparable growth at JTS,” continued Chancellor Eisen. “He has brought to the leadership of JTS a great deal more than business acumen and public relations expertise. Gershon is a man of deep faith whose dedication to Conservative Judaism and this institution make his counsel utterly invaluable. It has been an honor and privilege for me, as well as a source of enormous pleasure, to work with him. All of us at JTS are profoundly in his debt and look forward to his continued involvement as a trustee and chair emeritus.”

”I’m honored to serve as board chair,” said Ms. Cohen. “JTS, founded in 1886, has long played an essential role in educating leaders in the clergy, academia, and the community. This will continue. The century-old tradition of academic excellence is reflected in all our undergraduate and graduate schools and in our deep commitment to the next generation of students. My colleagues on the JTS board enthusiastically support the institution’s core mission to provide outstanding educational opportunities on campus and to respond to the growing demand for high-quality instruction in the Jewish world more broadly. Leaders trained at JTS will engage in the vital religious and secular issues of our day as rabbis, cantors, academics, Jewish educators, and well-informed laity.”

“The past eighteen years have been transformative for JTS and the school stands today as a vital institutionGershon Kekst of Jewish learning with a bright future,” said Mr. Kekst. “It is a great center of scholarship and research, teaching, and training, and a steadfast base for building thriving Jewish communities. I am thankfulto have worked with and learned from its exceptional leadership, faculty, student body, and Board of Trustees, and it has been gratifying to work with Abby Joseph Cohen; I am very pleased that she will be succeeding me as chair. Abby’s career in business and public service has decisively proven her to be a thinker and leader of rare perceptiveness, drive, and character. I can think of no one better qualified or more appropriate to shepherd the JTS board, and I look forward to continuing to work with her as a fellow trustee of JTS.”

Many of Abby Cohen’s other volunteer commitments also focus on education and on public policy. She is a Trustee Emerita and Presidential Councillor at Cornell University and a member of the boards of the Weill Cornell Medical College and the Brookings Institution. She previously served as chair of the board of the 90,000-member Chartered Financial Analyst Institute from which she received the Distinguished Service Award. An adviser to the investment committees of Cornell University and Major League Baseball, she serves on the national board of the Smithsonian Institution and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Abby Cohen holds degrees in economics from Cornell University and George Washington University and has received three honorary doctorates, including one in engineering. Ms. Cohen has been recognized as a leader in US portfolio strategy for more than fifteen years, and has been ranked number one by Institutional Investor magazine and Greenwich Associates. Her career is the subject of a Harvard Business School case study and a Business Week cover story. Ms. Cohen has been honored by many groups, including the Financial Women’s Association, New York Stock Exchange, Wall Street Week Hall of Fame, and leading financial publications. She began her career as an economist at the Federal Reserve Board in Washington DC.

The Cohen family is deeply involved in Jewish campus life. Abby’s husband, David M. Cohen, serves on Hillel’s International Board of Governors, the organization’s highest consultative body, and has been a member of Hillel’s Executive Committee for several years. Abby and David received the Cornell Hillel Tanner Prize for their contributions to Cornell and the Jewish people, and were honorees at the Hillel 2006 gala. David Cohen is Deputy Commissioner and Labor Counsel of the New York City Police Department.

Gershon Kekst has been a JTS trustee since 1989 and assumed leadership of the board in 1991. His tenure, at eighteen years, is the longest continuous service in that role since Louis Marshall. The son of Hebrew teachers, he has focused his philanthropy and communal leadership on Jewish education and science.

Highlights of his tenure include the appointment of Chancellor Eisen, the establishment of the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education, and the creation of the Women’s League Seminary Synagogue. He also oversaw the expansion of JTS internationally through the formation of Jewish education programs in Russia, Argentina, and Israel. In addition, Mr. Kekst supported the forging and strengthening of critical partnerships between JTS and other arms of the Conservative Movement and other Jewish institutions. A notable accomplishment is expanded interfaith outreach, most recently with the Muslim community, that has resulted in frank dialogue and joint social action projects.

Menaham Ben-Sasson elected Hebrew U. president

Source: JTA, 6-10-09

A former Knesset member has been elected president of Hebrew University. Menaham Ben-Sasson, a former rector and professor at the university, was elected Wednesday at the closing session of the 72nd meeting of the university’s board of governors. He succeeds Menachem Magidor, who served three four-year terms. Ben Sasson, who served in the Knesset from 2006 to 2009 as a member of the Kadima Party, told the board of governors that the world financial crisis has hit the university. “The financial situation is so severe as to cast doubt even on the opening of the coming academic year,” he said. “I call upon the government of Israel to honor its obligations and keep its commitments so as to ensure the further development of the university and to ensure the strengthening of the mother of Israeli higher education.”

Ben-Sasson, a professor of the history of the Jewish people at the university who had completed his doctorate there, served as rector from 1997 to 2001. He has taught or served as a fellow at Yeshiva University, the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, the University of Pennsylvania and the Russian National Academy of Sciences. His research focuses on the history of Jews in Islamic lands and on research on Maimonides.