JTS Commencement Recognized Graduating Class of 2017 with Address from Chancellor Arnold M. Eisen

Press Contact: Tom Hopkins
Office: (212) 678-8950

May 18, 2017, New York, NY

The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) held its 123rd Commencement ceremony Thursday at the historic Park Avenue Synagogue. JTS Chancellor Arnold Eisen, one of the world’s foremost authorities on American Judaism, delivered the 2017 Commencement address to the university’s graduating class of rabbinical, cantorial, and bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree students. JTS also presented honorary degrees to groundbreaking Jewish leaders.

Rabbinical, cantorial, and graduate students are going on to serve as leaders in synagogues, camps, educational institutions, Jewish communal organizations, social justice groups, academia, and more. Undergraduates will pursue advanced degrees or pursue careers at leading companies or organizations.

“We need you, class of 2017,” Chancellor Eisen told the graduates. “We need you not to be afraid. To remember who you are. To act in accord with the integrity of who you are. And to build community, wherever you go, including and engaging Jews and others who for too long have stood outside the tent.” 

Graduates awarded degrees during this year’s Commencement included undergraduates who earned simultaneous degrees from List College and Columbia University or Barnard College, and master’s and doctoral degree recipients who completed their studies at the Garson Kekst Graduate School and the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education. 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.

This year’s honorary degree recipients include Charles Bronfman, co-founder of Birthright Israel and prominent philanthropist in the United States, Israel, and Canada; Judith Hauptman, the first woman ever to earn a PhD in Talmud and current E. Billi Ivry Professor of Talmud and Rabbinic Culture at JTS; Daniel Matt, one of the world’s foremost authorities on Jewish mysticism, most widely known for translating the Zohar into English; and Jonathan Woocher, author and senior fellow at Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah.