JTS Invests In Local Community

January 10, 2020 – New York, NY – Near the completion of a comprehensive campus revitalization project, The Jewish Theological Seminary today announced its plan for a $250,000 community investment initiative in partnership with the New York Community Trust, along with $1 million through robust programming for local residents.

Among the most distinguished centers for Jewish learning in the world, JTS will celebrate the opening of its new campus with a design by renowned architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien meant in part to transform the institution into a new public forum for cultural events and academic discussion.

Investing $1.25 Million to Support the Morningside Heights Community

As JTS completes its campus transformation, the institution is also committing resources to support and strengthen its local community. After consulting with elected officials and community members, JTS determined it will contribute $250,000 directly to the Morningside Heights community over a period of five years. Its annual contributions will be managed by the New York Community Trust.

In addition, JTS will commit $1 million in community programming such as public lectures, continuing education classes for adults, concerts, public exhibits, and library programs like author round tables and public after-school programs in the rare book collections. Also included within this investment will be programming that supports activism and inclusive dialogue. Through its recently launched Hendel Center for Ethics and Justice, JTS will offer skills training, internships, panels, lectures, workshops, and interfaith gatherings open to the Morningside Heights community. JTS will also partner with local social justice groups, educators, and clergy to study, share ideas, and collaborate to address ethical issues.

“When we undertook this effort to revive our campus, our goal was not only to support world-class teaching and scholarship, but to reintroduce JTS as a community resource accessible to Morningside Heights residents, New Yorkers, and visitors from around the world,” said Chancellor Arnold M. Eisen of The Jewish Theological Seminary. “Our partnership with New York Community Trust will support local organizations that do essential work in our community, and our institutional programs will be open to the public and offer avenues for engagement between JTS and its neighbors.”

“For more than 100 years, JTS has been a proud member of the Morningside Heights community,” said Alan Levine, Chair of the JTS Board of Trustees. “As we build a campus that will enable JTS to engage more with its neighbors, it is important to us that we also provide direct support to local organizations and foster strong relationships with those outside our immediate sphere with public-oriented opportunities to share the rich cultural life of JTS with a broader community.”

 “We are pleased that The Jewish Theological Seminary is making this community investment,” said Gay Young, Vice President of Donor Services of the New York Community Trust. “Morningside Heights is a vibrant and diverse neighborhood, but it faces serious challenges such as a lack of affordable housing that this commitment can help alleviate.”

“This investment comes at a critical moment for our community, as low-income residents face a serious lack of affordable housing and local organizations leading anti-displacement efforts urgently need additional support,” said Congressman Adriano Espaillat. “The Jewish Theological Seminary is demonstrating how we can develop responsibly in Morningside Heights.” 

“Morningside Heights is a vital cog in the wheel of New York City,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I thank The Jewish Theological Seminary for this investment, and I look forward to hearing more about how it will be implemented in the Morningside Heights Community.”

“I welcome this move by The Jewish Theological Seminary to form a partnership with the New York Community Trust–an investment which will help our community tackle many important challenges” said Councilman Mark Levine. “I look forward to a growing partnership between JTS and the Morningside Heights community, and in particular the provision of enriching educational and cultural programming to local residents.”

21st Century Campus Designed to Encourage Community Engagement

JTS’s 21st Century Campus project will emphasize open spaces that encourage community, innovation, and the exchange of ideas, and will welcome students and scholars from diverse backgrounds to share the experience of Jewish life and learning.

Designed to enable greater interactions between JTS and its Morningside Heights neighbors, the new campus will be more accessible to the public. The project is an investment not just in the future of JTS, but the cultural life of New York City and the greater North American Jewish community.

Key features of the project include a modern library that will feature exhibitions of rare materials; a performing arts auditorium that will offer a robust calendar of artistic events and cultural programming; a new residence hall, with large communal kitchens and living spaces; and an open, light-filled atrium that will be the campus’s central hub.

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.