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University of Maryland endowing Israel chair

A University of Maryland alumnus will donate $1.5 million to his alma mater to
create a chair in Israel Studies. Jack Kay, a resident of Chevy Chase, Md., and Palm Beach,
Fla., and president of the Kay Management Co., is giving the gift in
part with the Kay Family Foundation to endow the the Abraham S. and Jack Kay Chair in Israel Studies. The position will
complement a growing Middle Eastern studies initiatives on campus, but
Eric Zakim, executive director of the Joseph and Alma Gildenhorn
Institute for Israel Studies, said the chair will focus on Israeli
history rather than the conflict with Palestinians. “We’re not
trying to fill a narrowly defined niche,” Zakim said. “We’re open to
scholars who push the boundaries of history and also look at questions
from a sociological or political science perspective.” The new chair will serve in the Israel Studies, Jewish Studies and History departments.”There’s
a major trend on U.S. campuses to expand Israel studies and to create
endowed chairs in the field, and we’re in the forefront – but we’re
going about it differently here,” Jewish Studies director Hayim Lapin
said. “We want to encourage academic study of the Middle East in the
broadest sense, so that national politics doesn’t overshadow rigorous
studies from all the other vital fields and so that the histories of
Israel and the Jews are integral parts of Middle East studies.”

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