JTS Celebrates Graduates at 125th Commencement Ceremony

Press Contact: Beth Mayerowitz
Email: bemayerowitz@jtsa.edu
May 23, 2019

NEW YORK – The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) held its commencement ceremony at the historic International House on Thursday, May 23. JTS Chancellor Arnold M. Eisen delivered the 2019 Commencement address to the institution’s graduating class of rabbinical, cantorial, and bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree students. Honorary degrees were also presented to innovative leaders.

“No responsible commencement speaker can pretend that ‘all’s right with the world’ as you go forth to it, or that you and I won’t be sorely tested by events,  or that the situation of the Jewish people today is uncomplicated or the Jewish future secure,” Chancellor Eisen said in his address, which he focused on the importance of truth telling. “But if we have taught you anything at JTS,  I hope it is that the knowledge and wisdom stored up in Jewish tradition are a valuable fund for you to draw upon,  and that your learning of this tradition empowers you to make the changes,  extend the compassion,  perform the acts of justice,  that are required to get us through the mess—and that is the truth.”

There has never been a more opportune moment for the next generation to step up to lead. After graduating, JTS rabbinical, cantorial, undergraduate, and graduate students will go on to lead congregations at synagogues all over the world, as well as serve as leaders at Jewish communal organizations, in academia, and in other educational institutions. Among the undergraduate class, graduates will pursue advanced degrees or have accepted offers at leading companies and organizations.

This year’s honorary degree recipients are Bruce A. Beutler, MD, UT Southwestern professor and director of the Center for the Genetics of Host Defense; Sara J. Bloomfield, director of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum; David Golinkin, president of The Schechter Institutes, Inc. and president emeritus of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies; and Martha C. Nussbaum, Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago.

Each of this year’s honorees has made significant contributions to the world at large. The extraordinary medical innovations of Bruce A. Beutler, MD have led to the remediation of diseases that affect millions. Sara J. Bloomfield has dedicated her work to ensuring that the horrors of the Holocaust are never forgotten. David Golinkin has championed Conservative Judaism in North America and Israel, making invaluable contributions to the understanding and development of Jewish law. Martha C. Nussbaum has enriched both scholarship and society through philosophical teachings.  

Graduates awarded degrees during this year’s Commencement included undergraduates who received bachelor’s degrees from List College and also earned simultaneous degrees from Columbia University or Barnard College. Master’s degree recipients who completed their studies at Gershon Kekst Graduate School and the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education also received degrees. Cantors were invested by the H. L. Miller Cantorial School and College of Jewish Music, and rabbis were ordained by The Rabbinical School. A number of students received multiple degrees from various JTS schools.


About The Jewish Theological Seminary

JTS is a preeminent institution of Jewish higher education, training thoughtful, innovative leaders—rabbis, cantors, educators, lay leaders, and scholars—who strengthen our communities with a vision of Judaism that is deeply grounded in the Jewish past and thoroughly engaged with contemporary society. JTS also provides high-caliber lifelong learning and professional development to our alumni, adult learners, and Jewish communities throughout North America. Through its Library, JTS preserves and makes accessible to students and scholars throughout the world the greatest collection of Judaica in the Western Hemisphere.