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Schusterman gives Brandeis $15 million for Israel studies

The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation has committed $15 million to Brandeis University to establish a center for Israel studies. The Schusterman Center for Israel Studies will offer graduate-level classes for students at Brandeis and a Ph.D. program, according to the foundation. It will also build upon the university’s visiting professors program that offers training, resources and scholarship opportunities for faculty at other university, Brandeis announced in a release Friday. The center will take an interdisciplinary approach to the study of Israel, its history, economy, education system, language, culture and arts, sociology, demography and politics. The foundation, which is a founding partner of birthright israel and the primary supporter of B’nai Brith Youth Organization, already brings 20 academics a year from Israel to teach at American universities and offers scholarships to encourage graduate students to pursue Israel-related studies. “Israel is such an important nation, and yet on many U.S. campuses, it is rarely studied with any seriousness,” said Lynn Schusterman, the foundation’s chair. “It’s time we greatly enhance and expand academic scholarship about Israel and its people.” More than half of all American universities offer no courses on Israel, the release said. Brandeis and Schusterman expect other donors to match the Schusterman gift to establish a $30 million endowment for the center by 2015.