Harvard Divinity School Gets $1 M Gift to Establish First End Owed Professorship in Jewish Studies

One million dollars has been committed to the Harvard Divinity School by the Albert A. List Foundation to establish the first endowed Professorship in Jewish Studies in the United States at a Protestant or Catholic seminary or divinity school, according to George Rupp, dean of the school.

The gift will enable the Divinity School to hire a distinguished senior Judaica scholar in its program for the study of Judaism. List, a leading New York philanthropist, is a trustee of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.

Rupp said “our program for the study of Judaism has a critical role in our commitment to educate religious leaders for service in a pluralistic society,” adding: “We must go beyond simply speaking of the Judaeo-Christian tradition to understand Jewish as well as Christian traditions in their particularity.” He said the List gift would provide “crucial support for our efforts toward increased understanding among Christians and Jews.”

Rupp said the divinity school plans to raise an additional $500,000 for a fund for Jewish-Christian relations to complement the List Professorship. The fund will support lectureships and grants for visiting scholars, support conferences and workshops and provide scholarship aid.

The dean said the divinity school’s interest in Jewish studies goes back to the 1920s when Prof. George Foote Moore, as a member of its faculty, wrote on Judaism, “changing decisively” the understanding of Judaism in Western scholarship and giving English-speaking Christians “a new appreciation” of Judaism.

The creation of the Center of Jewish Studies in 1978 in the Arts and Scientists faculty under Isador Twersky, Littauer Professor of Hebrew Literature and Philosophy, encouraged the divinity school to contribute to such studies, Rupp said, adding that the List professorship will be “at the heart” of this program. He said the divinity school will begin an immediate search for a distinguished scholar to become the first List professor.

There will be no Bulletin dated May 25 due to Memorial Day, a postal holiday.

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