Menu JTA Search

A $15 M Harvard University Center Plan Will Expand Jewish Studies and Centralize Existing Degree Pro

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

Plans for a $15 million Harvard University Center for Jewish Studies, centralizing and expanding the university’s existing wide variety of Judaic degree programs, was announced today by president Derek C. Bok and Fellows of Harvard College. Bok said gifts and pledges totalling $2.1 million. including a grant of $1 million from the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation of New York, have been raised toward the $15 million goal.

Bok said that “the Joining of one of the major strains of culture in the Western world with an institution that for three centuries has been a symbol of intellectual excellence and humanitarian concern is a cause for great pride.” He said the new center would be “more than a source of scholarship and inspiration,” adding that it would be “nothing less than a major step in the enrichment of Harvard University, the United States, the Jewish people and the Western world.”

ELEMENTS OF PLAN

Gerald Weinstock of Larchmont, N.Y., chairman of a national committee of more than 200 prominent citizens which is spearheading the program, said that among the projected center’s purposes were to expand instruction and research in Judaica at Harvard; to integrate Judaic studies–languages, literature, history, culture, philosophy and religion–“on an interdepartmental scale”; and to stimulate further Judaic studies “at other schools of higher learning throughout the United States, both by example and by providing visiting research and teaching positions, symposia and colloquia.”

In noting that the center will provide expanded Judaica instruction for undergraduates and doctoral students, Weinstock said that the anticipated funds would provide for creation of six endowed professorships in a variety of fields of Judaica, plus new funds and curatorships for the Judaica collection now in the Harvard College Library.

He said it would also include establishment of 24 endowed graduate fellowships; creation of an administrative center to coordinate seminars, symposia and public lectures; support of visiting scholars; and creation of a publication program.

Bok cited the university’s “special tradition” in Jewish studies, referring to the teaching and scholarship of the late Prof. Harry Wolfson, who held the first endowed chair of Jewish studies in a secular institution of learning in the world, the Nathan Littauer Professorship of Hebrew Literature and Philosophy established at Harvard in 1925. Following Wolfson’s retirement in 1958, Isadore Twersky was named Littauer Professor.

WILL HAVE NATIONAL IMPACT

Bok said Harvard set up a second Judaica Professorship in 1970, with general university funds, held since 1970 by Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi as professor of Hebrew and Jewish History Bok said a variety of courses ancillary to Jewish studies have been offered at Harvard for years and that Harvard has the only endowed Judaica curatorship in the world, the post of Lee M. Friedman Bibliographer in Judaica created in 1962 and held since then by Charles Berlin.

Declaring that in recent years, Jewish studies at American universities “have undergone a renaissance.” Henry Rosovsky. Dean of the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences, said the new center “will not only satisfy the unmistakable need for further growth at the university but will also benefit the study and teaching of Judaica throughout the country.

He said universities and colleges in the U.S. now offering courses in Jewish studies have risen from 10 in 1945 to more than 150 now and that achieving the goals of the campaign for the Harvard center should enable the university to provide many of the scholars and teachers needed in the future. Weinstock said the campaign to raise the $15 million goal was a one-time endowment effort “to insure income in perpetuity for continuing Judaica scholarship” at Harvard.

SOME OF THE COMMITTEE MEMBERS

National honorary committee members include Raymond Aron, historian and philosopher; Salo W. Baron, Professor Emeritus, Jewish history, Columbia University; Rev. John C. Bennett. President Emeritus, Union Theological Seminary; Isaiah Berlin, Oxford University, philosopher and historian; Rene Cassin, Nobel Prize winner; William Haber, former dean of the University of Michigan, honorary president of American ORT; and Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, president, Notre Dame University.

Also Philip M. Klutznick, honorary national president of B’nai B’rith and former U.S. envoy to the UN; Simon Kuznets, Harvard University, Nobel Prize winner for economics; Abram L. Sachar, chancellor, Brandeis University; Dr. Judah J. Shapiro, sociologist and educator; Edward M. Warburg, communal leader, former president of the United Jewish Appeal of Greater New York; and Theodore M. White, author.

NEXT STORY