JTS Celebrates Graduates at 127th Commencement Ceremony

April 29, 2021, New York, NY

The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) held its commencement ceremony virtually on Thursday, April 29. JTS Chancellor Shuly Rubin Schwartz delivered the 2021 Commencement address to the 72 graduates from the institution’s five schools: List College, the Kekst Graduate School, H. L. Miller Cantorial School, Rabbinical School, and the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education.

“At JTS, you probed intensely and critically the sacred texts, ideas, and lived experience of the Jewish people. You appreciated the ways in which this pursuit of knowledge provided both intellectual and spiritual sustenance,” said Chancellor Shuly Rubin Schwartz in her address to the graduates.

Alan Levine, JTS’s chair of the board, also addressed the virtual community: “To our graduating students: although you are scattered across North America physically, in this moment we are very much together; we are holding you in our hearts.”

This year’s honorary degree recipients include Geraldine Brooks, an award-winning journalist and novelist; Lord Rothschild (Jacob), the Fourth Baron Rothschild, a visionary communal leader and philanthropist; and Avigdor Shinan, professor emeritus in the department of Hebrew Literature, at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. 

Each of this year’s honorees has enriched Jewish life immeasurably. Geraldine Brooks’ explorations and writings about the meaning of faith and religion, in ordinary life and in global crises and conflicts, have helped us better understand the world we inhabit. Lord Rothschild’s philanthropic work, business acumen, and lifelong dedication to nurturing society and culture, both in Israel and Britain, will be felt for generations to come. Avigdor Shinan’s contributions to Jewish academia have explicated scholarly themes not only to fellow scholars but to the entire Jewish people.

List College graduates in our dual-degree programs were awarded bachelor’s degrees from List College; they also graduated from Columbia University or Barnard College at separate ceremonies. Master’s and doctoral candidates who completed their studies at Gershon Kekst Graduate School and the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education received degrees as did graduates of the H. L. Miller Cantorial School and College of Jewish Music and Rabbinical School. A select number of students received degrees from more than one JTS school.

In addition to the conferral of degrees for all five schools, there was a virtual procession, remarks from student speakers, an opening invocation by Rabbi David Eligberg, and a festive closing montage. Another highlight of the ceremony was the singing of the national anthem and Hatikvah by several of the graduating students of the H. L. Miller Cantorial School. A moment of silence for the 3 million+ victims of the COVID-19 pandemic was also observed during the ceremony. 


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.