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Princeton gets $4.5 million for Jewish studies

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The Tikvah Fund has given Princeton University $4.5 million to strengthen undergraduate interest in Jewish thought.

The funds are also earmarked to bring Jewish history and ideas into dialogue with other historical, philosophical and theological traditions, Princeton announced this week.

The Tikvah Project on Jewish Thought will host visiting scholars and fellows, sponsor new undergraduate courses that explore thematic religious questions from both Jewish and non-Jewish perspectives, host workshops and eventually sponsor a series of publications and summer institutes.

The project’s fellows program will begin officially in the 2009-10 school year, but the inaugural Tikvah fellow, Professor Michael Fishbane, will be in residence next term. Fishbane is the Nathan Cummings Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Chicago. He will teach a freshman seminar on “The Problem of Evil and the Book of Job.”

“We are very grateful to the Tikvah Fund for their generous support,” Leora Batnitzky, Princeton professor of religion and the project’s director, said in a news release. “We believe the Jewish tradition has an important contribution to make to the humanities as a whole – in politics, history, religion, philosophy. Any educated person, Jewish and non-Jewish, ought to know something about Jewish thought and civilization. And we hope that the implementation of this kind of curriculum will have long-lasting effects for the future of Jewish studies and the humanities.”

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