JTS to Honor Distinguished Alumni in Israel

Press Contact: Tom Hopkins
Office: (212) 678-8950
Email: tohopkins@jtsa.edu

January 31, 2017, New York, NY

On Tuesday, February 7, The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) will honor three alumni at the Schocken Institute for Jewish Research of The Jewish Theological Seminary in Jerusalem. Rabbi Professor David Halivni, renowned scholar of Talmud, will receive the Rabbi Louis Finkelstein Rabbinic Leadership Award. Rabbi Benjamin Segal, past president of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, and Dr. Brenda Bacon, who teaches at the Schechter Institute for Jewish Studies, will each receive the Solomon Schechter Award for Jewish Education.

The program for the evening includes an introduction from Professor Shmuel Glick (RS ’87), director of the Schocken Institute; a lecture in Hebrew by Chancellor Arnold M. Eisen on “Jewish Leadership in an Uncertain World”; a lecture by Rabbi Professor Halivni on “The Unique Leadership of Professor Louis Finkelstein”; and a concluding d’var Torah from Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz (RS ’99), JTS Director of Israel Programs. JTS Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer Marc Gary will also be in attendance at the ceremony.

Rabbi Joel Roth (RS ’68, ’73), JTS’s Louis Finkelstein Professor of Talmud and Jewish Law, will present the Finkelstein Award to Rabbi Professor Halivni at the request of JTS Chancellor Arnold M. Eisen. The previous year’s Schechter Award honorees will present the awards for the current year. Dr. Beverly Gribetz (Teachers Institute ’72, GS ’95) will present the first of this year’s Schechter Awards to Dr. Bacon, and Professor Lee Levine (Teachers Institute ’61, GS ’65) will present the second Schechter Award to Rabbi Segal.

The honor of Rabbi Professor Halivni receiving this year’s Rabbi Louis Finkelstein Rabbinic Leadership Award is well-deserved, says Rabbi Roth. “Halivni combines both the academic and the personal qualities of Professor Finkelstein,” the former chancellor of JTS after whom the award is named. “He is a great scholar, one of the most radical interpreters of Talmudic editing,” and he has combined this academic excellence with “religious role modeling—his concern for the religious lives of his students.” It is particularly fitting that Halivni, who was a student of Professor Saul Lieberman and who learned and taught at JTS for more than thirty years, is receiving an award named for Louis Finkelstein.  Halivni had a long personal relationship with Finkelstein, and it was Finkelstein who provided Halivni with the necessary support, financial and spiritual, to allow him to study and serve at JTS.

This year’s recipients of the Solomon Schechter Award for Jewish Education are also highly regarded by peers and colleagues. Rabbi Segal “is an invaluable member of JTS’s administration, a gifted teacher, a creative scholar of Bible, and a master Hebraist,” notes Professor Ismar Schorsch, chancellor emeritus of JTS. Dr. Bacon is “a master teacher, curriculum writer, and teacher of teachers. Through her writing and her teaching she has had a profound impact on countless teachers and their students and has helped shape the field of Jewish education both in the United States and Israel,” says Professor Barry W. Holtz, Theodore and Florence Baumritter Professor of Jewish Education.

The event is open to the public (see below for details).

About Rabbi Benjamin J. Segal: Ordained at JTS in 1969, Rabbi Segal is an author and lecturer, living in Jerusalem. His biblical commentaries include The Song of Songs: A Woman in Love; A New Psalm: The Psalms as Literature; and Kohelet’s Search for Truth: A New Reading of Ecclesiastes, among other works. He is a past president of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, the academic rabbinic and educational center of Masorti Judaism in Israel, and of Melitz, the Centers for Jewish and Zionist Education. Previously, he served for 19 years as the director of the Ramah Programs in Israel. A former chairman of the Masorti Movement in Israel, Segal served as a pulpit rabbi in Congregation Kol Emeth, Palo Alto, California, for four years before making aliyah in 1973.

About Dr. Brenda Bacon: In the United States, Dr. Bacon was a teacher at Prozdor High School at JTS and at Camp Ramah, as well as a teacher educator and curriculum writer at JTS, where she published Rambam: His Thought and His Time. After making aliyah in 1981, she served as a curriculum writer and teacher educator in the Jewish Values Project of the Melton Center for Jewish Education in the Diaspora at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She then became the principal of an experimental public religious elementary school in Jerusalem, and subsequently a curriculum writer at the Israel Ministry of Education. After receiving her PhD in Jewish Education from JTS, Dr. Bacon taught at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and, since 1994, at the Schechter Institute for Jewish Studies in Jerusalem.

About Rabbi Professor David Halivni: Professor Halivni is the author of Mekorot u’Mesorot, a projected 10-volume commentary on the Talmud, as well as Peshat and DerashRevelation Restored, and The Book and the Sword, among other titles. At the age of 16, he was deported from his small town in the Carpathians to Auschwitz, from which he was transferred to other camps. He was the only member of his family to survive. He holds a BA from Brooklyn College, a master’s degree in philosophy, and a doctorate in Talmud from JTS. Halivni served as Littauer Professor of Talmud and Classical Rabbinics in the Department of Religion at Columbia University. Halivni made aliyah after retiring from Columbia in 2005. He teaches at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Bar Ilan University.

Event Details:

Tuesday, February 7, 2017
(11 Shevat 5777)
6:00 p.m.

Kehilat Moreshet Yisrael
4 Agron Street, Jerusalem

The event is open to the public, but space is limited. Reservation must be confirmed in advance at jtspress@gmail.com or 02-5631288.