The Torah Fund of Women's League for Conservative Judaism campaign was first launched in 1942 as a scholarship fund. In 1963, it combined with the Mathilde Schechter Residence Hall campaign, which provided housing for undergraduate students at JTS. Since then, Torah Fund has raised more than $90 million in support of:
The Jewish Theological Seminary (New York City)
Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies (Los Angeles, California)
Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies (Jerusalem)
Seminario Rabinico Latinoamericano (Buenos Aires)
Torah Fund took shape in the minds of the leaders of Women's League for Conservative Judaism when it established a scholarship fund. Using gematria, the first giving category solicited was 611, the numerical equivalent of the word Torah. The first year's goal was $10,000. By the 1950s, more than half of the Sisterhoods in Women's League were conducting their own campaigns. They raised $142,000. In 1958, the Torah Fund's annual goal was raised from $500,000 to $1,000,000.
Reflecting their commitment to a residence hall for students, members launched a new campaign called Ha'yay Olam. In 1963, the two campaigns were combined under the name Torah Fund / Mathilde Schechter Residence Hall. Mathilde Schechter Residence Hall, which provides housing for the undergraduate students of List College, was completed in 1976. The campaign's focus was then turned to providing a residence for married and graduate students, culminating in the dedication of Goldsmith Hall in 1978 and its Moadon in 1983.
History of Special Projects
Women's League has dedicated the sculpture garden at the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. The institute is where the Conservative rabbinical and cantorial students of JTS study during their year in Israel, and where over 450 Israelis are studying for graduate degrees in Judaic Studies.
In 1982, Torah Fund undertook the responsibility of providing 500 bookshelves for The Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary, the new building of which had just been constructed. The project realized nearly $1,400,000 in a four-year period.
The residence-halls project of the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, California, was dedicated in 1989. A total of $487,500 was raised for this significant undertaking.
In 1989, Torah Fund financed the landscaping and outdoor furniture of the JTS quadrangle in order to create a tranquil environment. More than $600,000 was raised for this project, which was dedicated in October 1990.
Since 1992, Women's League has used the name Torah Fund because the campaign now encompasses so many projects, including—and extending beyond—the residence halls. Over 200 students are able to live in the immediate vicinity of JTS, largely due to contributions to the Torah Fund Campaign.
Women's League, through the Torah Fund Campaign, established a Financial Aid Fund to augment JTS's student-aid program, thereby raising $1,000,000 for necessary financial aid.
Women's League converted the former Schiff Library Reading Room into the Women's League Seminary Synagogue, a permanent synagogue that was dedicated on October 24, 1995. This sacred space enhances the spiritual life of the men and women who worship together, and serves as a gathering place for special events. There are still named gift opportunities available for this meaningful project.
After 20 years as a dormitory for undergraduate students, Mathilde Schechter Residence Hall began undergoing renovation during campaign year 1996–1997. The dedication of the renovated Mathilde Schechter Residence Hall was held in October 2000.
Torah Fund participated in the construction of Kripke Tower, JTS's central tower, which once housed The Library's stacks. The Women's League Educational Pavilion, which is on the fourth floor, features an electronically up-to-date lecture hall and educational and meeting facilities enhanced by original artwork depicting women in Jewish history.
Torah Fund Today
The Torah Fund Campaign is truly a grassroots effort. The campaign has grown over its 70 years, raising an almost $2 million in annual support. Connect to Torah Fund on Facebook and Twitter to join in the conversation.