In this week’s blog I want to share a message about the work being done by JTS- The Jewish Theological Seminary- to deepen Jewish learning and create and strengthen the next generation of Jewish leaders. JTS is my Alma Mater- I was ordained by the Seminary in 1985 and then immediately began my career as a Rabbi. Under the leadership of Chancellor Arnold Eisen, a brilliant scholar and visionary, JTS is growing and deepening its impact on the modern Jewish world. What follows is a message sent this week by Marc Gary, Executive Vice-chancellor and Chief Operating Officer of JTS, to alumni. This message explains the great successes and tremendous reach of JTS. If you care about meaningful Jewish learning, if you care about nurturing the next generation of Rabbis, Cantors and Jewish educators, then supporting JTS will help achieve those aspirations.
An emphasis on social action. JTS is teaching students to be changes agents who help enact the Jewish values they study.
- Rabbi Stephanie Ruskay, associate dean of The Rabbinical School, is using her deep background in social justice to infuse this learning throughout the school and all of JTS.
- JustCity, JTS’s summer program, brings teens to JTS to learn the fundamentals of change leadership through a Jewish lens.
- Ruth Messinger, former president of the American Jewish World Service, recently joined JTS as the inaugural Finkelstein Institute Social Justice Fellow.
Teaching and modeling the spiritual arts. Through the Block/Kolker Center for the Spiritual Arts, JTS is developing students’ skills in the art of prayer.
- JTS is modeling meaningful and innovative tefillah to the entire community through holiday and Shabbat services.
- Rabbinical and Cantorial students have a new curriculum on the art of creating and leading inspiring prayer.
A renewed focus on Israel. JTS is preparing students to be deeply knowledgeable leaders of the Israel dialogue.
- Dr. Hillel Gruenberg is JTS’s new director of Israel Engagement.
- JTS has revamped the Israel Year for rabbinical students, which is now headquartered at JTS’s own historic building, the Schocken Institute, in the heart of Jerusalem.
- The Davidson School has launched a new Experiential Educators Program in Israel, an MA degree in partnership with the Pardes Institute.
Growing Demand for Beit Midrash Learning. Nishma, JTS’s summer Beit Midrash program, continues to grow.
- The number of Nishma students has risen from 11 three years ago to 33 last summer. This year JTS expects a record number of students.
- 20 Nishma students have gone on to The Rabbinical School of JTS.
- JTS is bringing its Beit Midrash style of learning to Camp Ramah in the Berkshires.
Expanded Learning Community. JTS is expanding opportunities for Jewish learning for learners across the country and around the world.
- The number of adults joining JTS for in-person courses throughout North America has more than doubled, to 3,000 a year.
- 400 rabbis annually are served by JTS’s continuing education programs, both in-person and online.
- Last year JTS began live streaming its public lectures, allowing communities to build educational programs around our public events.
- This year JTS launched its first turnkey educational program for synagogues and other organizations, entitled “The Ethical Life,” which is already being implemented to great acclaim by 50 congregations.
- JTS Torah Online offers an ever-growing collection of contemporary Jewish content.
Greater Access to Library Treasurers. Through technology and an expanded loan program, JTS is bringing its library treasures to the world.
- In addition to library material on view at major museums across North America and overseas, several pieces were featured recently in the New York Metropolitan Museum’s acclaimed exhibit “Jerusalem 1000–1400: Every People Under Heaven.”
- JTS has begun offering virtual tours of library artifacts on our web site. The first virtual tour focused on its unparralelled collection of Haggadot, including the oldest extant Haggadah in the world. Next up: a virtual tour of “Luxury (18th Century) Manuscripts for Court Jews.”