Overview of JTS
History of The Jewish Theological Seminary
A preeminent institution of Jewish higher education, The Jewish Theological Seminary was founded in 1886 by two distinguished rabbis, Dr. Sabato Morais and Dr. H. Pereira Mendes, along with a group of prominent citizens from congregations in Philadelphia and New York City. For the past century, JTS has provided leadership for Conservative Judaism and the vital religious center of North American Jewry. It has trained expert professionals—rabbis, cantors, educators, communal workers, lay activists—with a commitment to strengthening Jewish tradition, Jewish lives, and Jewish communities.
The JTS of the 21st century, under the direction of Chancellor Arnold M. Eisen, articulates a vision of Judaism that is learned and passionate, pluralist and authentic, traditional and egalitarian; one that is thoroughly grounded in Jewish texts, history, and practices, and fully engaged with the societies and cultures of the present. Our vision joins faith with inquiry; the covenant of our ancestors with the creative insights of today; intense involvement in the society and State of Israel with devotion to the flowering of Judaism throughout the world; and service to the Jewish community as well as the communities of which Jews are a part: our society, our country, and our world.
JTS boasts a highly esteemed faculty, one of the world’s greatest libraries of Judaica, and a diverse and exceptional student body within the context of a welcoming religious and social community. The faculty offers courses in four broad areas: Jewish Languages, Jewish Texts and Interpretations, Jewish Cultures and Communities, and Jewish Leadership. Through its five schools, JTS grants undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees, and offers programs and certificates of continuing professional education.
JTS’s schools include the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education, Albert A. List College of Jewish Studies (undergraduate), the Gershon Kekst Graduate School, The Rabbinical School, and H. L. Miller Cantorial School and College of Jewish Music. JTS also has two student residence halls and a summer school. The Rebecca and Israel Ivry Prozdor High School is JTS’s model supplementary school and is open to middle and high school students.
Additionally, JTS includes research, lay leadership, and professional institutes, such as the Louis Finkelstein Institute for Religious and Social Studies; Tikvah Institute; Abraham and Mollie Goodman Language Resource Center; Phyllis Kaminer Center for Distance Education; and the Saul Lieberman Institute for Talmudic Research. JTS’s Israel programs are housed in Jerusalem at the landmark Schocken Institute for Jewish Research, and JTS continues its long-standing relationship with the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies.
Project Judaica is JTS’s joint venture with the Russian State University for the Humanities in Moscow, training indigenous Judaica scholars, fostering Jewish studies and Jewish life, and discovering Jewish-related materials held in the archives of the former Soviet Union.
JTS is deeply committed to interfaith events, activities, and education through the Milstein Institute for Interreligious Dialogue and the Center for Pastoral Education at JTS, which teaches pastoral care to interfaith students, clergy, and lay leaders already in the field. JTS presents public lectures on topics of contemporary concern by leading public figures, academics, and religious leaders, and is fully committed to education as a lifelong endeavor. Its adult education programs offered through the Department of Community Engagement are designed to reach those interested in high-level, engaging Jewish learning that represents the depth of wisdom and scholarship at JTS and in the world of Jewish studies. JTS’s consortia with prestigious academic neighbors, such as Columbia University, Barnard College, and Union Theological Seminary, support and expand the academic and social aspects of the JTS experience, as does JTS’s close relationship with the future leaders currently attending Schechter schools and Ramah camps. The Jewish Museum, which was established by JTS and continues to operate under the auspices of JTS, enhances the cultural ambience of JTS’s vibrant community of learning.
The welcoming and multifaceted JTS community is dedicated to the vitality of Jewish thought and the richness of Jewish values as they apply to daily life in the world, and to making traditional Judaism come alive for new generations.
JTS is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and chartered by the Regents of the State of New York. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education is an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the US Secretary of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. JTS offers the degrees of bachelor and master of arts, master of philosophy, doctor of philosophy, doctor of Hebrew literature, doctor of education, and bachelor and master of sacred music; ordains rabbis; and confers the diploma of hazzan on qualified candidates. Inquiries regarding JTS’s accreditation and licensing may be directed to Marc Gary, executive vice chancellor and chief operating officer.
The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA), established in 1887, is a nonprofit membership association dedicated to educational improvement through evaluation and accreditation. The Commission on Higher Education is the unit of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools that accredits degree-granting colleges and universities in the Middle States region. It examines the institution as a whole, rather than specific programs within the institution.
New York State
The Regents of New York State are responsible for the general supervision of all education activities within the state, presiding over the university and the New York State Education Department. The University of the State of New York is the nation’s most comprehensive and unified educational system. It consists of all elementary, secondary, and postsecondary educational institutions, libraries, museums, public broadcasting, records and archives, professions, vocational and educational services for individuals with disabilities, and such other institutions, organizations, and agencies as may be admitted to the university. The concept of the University of the State of New York is a broad term encompassing all the institutions, both public and private, offering education in the state.
The 21st Century Campus Project
As JTS looks to the future, we want to ensure that our campus continues to serve the growing and evolving needs of students, faculty, and the larger Jewish world. The reimagined Morningside Heights campus will fortify our role as a preeminent institution of Jewish higher education, integrating academic scholarship and teaching with a commitment to strengthening Jewish tradition, Jewish lives, and Jewish communities.
The renovated JTS campus, designed by the acclaimed architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, will be a unique center of Jewish learning, living, and inspiration, rooted in Torah and engaged with the issues of the contemporary world. The project will include a new residence hall, improved conference facilities, an auditorium / performing arts space, and a new state-of-the-art library.