Today The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) announced the establishment of the Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue (MCID), funded with a $2 million gift from New York philanthropist Howard Milstein and the Paul Milstein family. The Milsteins have a long history of engagement with JTS. Irma Milstein chaired the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education and served on the JTS Board of Trustees. The gift from her family marks the second generation of relationship between the Milsteins and JTS.
The Milstein Center’s invitation-only inaugural event will take place at JTS on Monday, October 31, 2011, with His Eminence Kurt Cardinal Koch as the guest of honor. Cardinal Koch is visiting from the Vatican, where he is the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, which includes the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews. This is Cardinal Koch’s first trip to New York City in that capacity.
“The new center will expand the long commitment of JTS to interreligious dialogue and partnership and enable us to highlight an annual schedule of distinct programs that range in complexity and content,” said Rabbi Burton L. Visotzky, who will be director of the Milstein Center. Rabbi Visotzky is the Appleman Professor of Midrash and Interreligious Studies at JTS. He has been active in interreligious dialogue for more than three decades in the United States and internationally.
Howard Milstein added, “This is a good time to build on 50 years of Jewish-Christian dialogue and expand it to all of the Abrahamic religions. At a time when religion-based antagonism is one of the greatest threats to world peace, JTS has a pivotal role in educating the next generation of religious leaders to promote mutual respect among all faiths.”
Among his many philanthropic activities, Howard Milstein serves on the board of directors of the UJA-Federation, Cornell University, and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. He is chair of the New York Blood Center and the American Skin Association, and has funded a major archive project at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research at the Center for Jewish History. He is a founding Leadership Council member at the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding and has supported a broad range of Catholic charities. He also served as an adviser to Edward Cardinal Egan, immediate past archbishop of New York. He has been honored by many Jewish and Catholic organizations for his staunch support of their work. Mr. Milstein is president and CEO of New York Private Bank & Trust and its operating bank, Emigrant Bank. He is chairman of his family’s real estate holdings, which include Milstein Properties, and founding chairman of the merchant bank FriedbergMilstein.
Visit JTS at www.jtsa.edu