Jim Joseph Foundation Announces $3.7 Million Grant to The Jewish Theological Seminary

Historic Investment Part of $12 Million Grant to JTS, HUC, and YU to Advance Jewish Education

Press Contact: Nina Jacobson
Office: (212) 678-8950
Email: nijacobson@jtsa.edu

September 8, 2009, New York, NY

The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), in recognition of its leadership in Jewish education, has received a $3.7 million grant from the Jim Joseph Foundation.

The award is part of a $12 million grant over five years to the three leading training institutions for Jewish educators in North America—JTS, the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and Yeshiva University—for the purpose of significantly increasing the number and quality of highly trained and knowledgeable Jewish educators.

"The unprecedented degree of partnership among JTS, HUC, and YU that the Jim Joseph Foundation has fostered is a historic development of major importance," stated Professor Arnold M. Eisen, chancellor of JTS. "The future of American Jewry in large part depends on the quality and quantity of visionary Jewish educators. Finding and training a dramatically increased number of such educators is a challenge we all face. As a result of the Jim Joseph Foundation, JTS, HUC, and YU are working together as never before with a shared goal and a clear understanding of what we can, should, and must do together, and where we must proceed on parallel and separate tracks. It is truly a moment of unique promise for each of our institutions and for the entire Jewish community."

At JTS, the grant will be centered and administered by the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education. It will provide $700,000 for each of the next five academic years for fellowships for students in The Davidson School's doctoral and master's programs. An additional award ($220,000) will fully fund the planning process and pilot programs designed to attract more educators to the field. Among the initiatives being considered is a new MA track for directors of Jewish early childhood programs; expansion of the informal Jewish education track for educators who work with teens and young adults that draws upon JTS's long experience with Ramah camps and the Rebecca and Israel Ivry Prozdor High School; and a year of study in Israel for Davidson students.

Dr. Barry Holtz, dean of The Davidson School, said, "This grant from the Jim Joseph Foundation will profoundly support our development of educational leadership for the Jewish future in a wide range of venues—schools, synagogues, camps, community centers, Israel programs, and youth groups. Additionally, it will help us attract new students and ensure that our current students have the financial support necessary to continue their studies. This is a huge step forward for Jewish education in the primary training institutions for Jewish life in North America. We are extraordinarily excited by this opportunity and ready to get started."

In the first year of funding, the three schools will also explore together how to expand their capacity in distance learning, educational technology, marketing, and recruitment. In addition, the Jim Joseph Foundation will convene a steering committee comprising the leadership of the three institutions and the Foundation to monitor progress, share best practices, and plan new initiatives that each school will pursue with the Foundation's support.

"Our commitment is to Jewish education, and the partnership now established with these three institutions through these grants should contribute greatly to advancing this cause," said President Al Levitt of the Jim Joseph Foundation. "It is an exciting development for all who care about improving the quality of Jewish life. We're simply playing our role in helping these institutions, and the educators they educate, reach their full potential and positively shape the lives of Jewish youth."

The Shimon Ben Joseph Foundation, commonly known as the Jim Joseph Foundation, is committed to the legacy of its founder, Jim Joseph, (z"l), devoted exclusively to fostering compelling, effective learning experiences in a multitude of settings for young Jews in the United States. A dedicated Jewish philanthropist, Mr. Joseph believed that focusing on young people was the best way to preserve a strong Jewish faith and proud heritage, thereby ensuring success of the Jewish people for the future.

Further information about the grant and the Jim Joseph Foundation can be found here. To learn more about The Davidson School, please contact Dean Holtz at (212) 678-8030.