Article - Jewish Institutes
JEWISH INSTITUTES OF HIGHER LEARNING IN THE U.S.A.
HEBREW UNION COLLEGE
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is America's oldest institution of higher Jewish studies and one of the world's most distinguished.
In 1875, Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise founded Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati as a seminary to train American rabbis. In 1922, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise established the Jewish Institute of Religion in New York as a center of Liberal Judaism. The two institutions merged in 1950.
Today, with campuses in Jerusalem and Los Angeles, as well as in Cincinnati and New York, Hebrew Union College has grown into a multifaceted center of learning, encompassing schools of sacred music, communal service, education, archaeology, Judaic studies and a graduate studies program for Christians as well as Jews preparing for careers as university and seminary professors. It is the intellectual foundation of Reform Judaism and a source of leadership for the Jewish community throughout the United States and the world.
In 1970, the year-in-Israel program was inaugurated for all first-year rabbinic and religious education students. Intensive Hebrew instruction is offered as well as courses in Bible, Jewish literature, liturgy and biblical archaeology. An Israel Rabbinic Program prepares Israeli graduate students in Jewish studies to serve as rabbis of Progressive congregations in Israel. The Jerusalem campus is also home to the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology which has conducted significant archaeological excavations at several sites in Israel.
The libraries of Hebrew Union College, with more than 530,000 volumes, 2,000 manuscript codices and many thousands of pages of archival materials and special documents, comprise one of the world's great collections of Judaica and Hebraica. The American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati, containing some 8,000,000 pages of documentation, attract scholars from across the globe who are interested in researching the American Jewish experience. The Skirball Museum in Los Angeles, with holdings of more than 12,000 pieces of Jewish art and artifacts, is a Jewish museum of international prominence.
Students are chosen for their ability and commitment to serve the Jewish people, for a special blend of intellect, spirituality, warmth and compassion. The alumni - rabbis, cantors, communal workers, scholars, religious school teachers and administrators - hold positions of leadership in their respective fields.
Dr. Alfred Gottschalk, a prominent scholar, rabbi, educator and leading authority on the philosopher Ahad Ha'am, has served as President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion since 1971.
THE JEWISH THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
The Jewish Theology Seminary of America, now celebrating its centennial year, was originally founded in order to train rabbis for congregations which were true to Jewish tradition, yet open to the needs of a modern society. Under such renowned scholars as Solomon Schechter, Louis Ginzberg, Saul Lieberman, Louis Finkelstein and Gerson D. Chen, the Seminary became both the center of the Conservative Movement and one of the world's outstanding institutions of Jewish scholarship, preparing thousands of rabbis, cantors, educators and graduate students for service to the Jewish community in America and throughout the world. Its graduates are now to be found on the faculties of nearly every institution of major Jewish learning including all of the universities in Israel.
The approach of the Seminary to Judaism is a unique combination of openness to serious, critical scholarship together with commitment to Jewish law and tradition. Prominent thinkers in modern Jewish theology, such as Mordechai M. Kaplan and Abraham J. Heschel, served on its faculty. Through its various educational programs including Camps Ramah and the Melton Research Center, and working with the Rabbinical Assembly and the United Synagogue, the Seminary has been a major influence in Jewish education.
In addition to the main campus in New York, whose library building houses one of the outstanding Judaica collections extant, the Seminary has a branch in Jerusalem at Neveh Schechter for rabbinical students and for the Midreshet Yerushalayim program for college students. This is a natural outgrowth of Dr. Schechter's courageous stand in favor of the then unpopular idea of Zionism, which set the tone for the unswerving dedication to Zionism and Israel which has characterized the Conservative Movement. Since the founding of the State of Israel, rabbinical students have been sent to Israel for part of their training.
The University of Judaism in California is an affiliate of the Seminary, housing the first years of rabbinical programs as well as undergraduate and graduate programs. The Seminary is also active in the arts, sponsoring the Jewish Museum as well as the Eternal Light radio and television programs. In Jerusalem the Seminary sponsors the Schocken Institute of Jewish Research with its unparalleled collection of rare Judaica and manuscripts and the Lieberman Institute of Talmudic research.
Two sister institutions of the Seminary have been founded in other locations, the Seminario Rabbinico in Argentina, which trains rabbis and educators for all of South America, and the Seminary of Judaic Studies in Jerusalem which serves as the rabbinical training school and the academic educational center for the Masorti Movement in Israel.
Yeshiva University is an independent institution under Jewish auspices chartered by the State of New York. It is accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle State Association of Colleges and Schools and by specialized professional agencies. In addition to its extensive teaching programs, the University maintains a network of affiliates, conducts a widespread program of research and community services, issues publications and has a museum.
The University's guiding vision is the confidence that the best of the heritage of contemporary civilization - the liberal arts and sciences - is compatible with the ancient traditions of Jewish law and life. At the undergraduate level, this belief is embodied in the dual curriculum under which students pursue a full program of Jewish studies while taking the usual college programs in the liberal sciences and receiving specialized preparation for advance work in a profession. At the graduate level, it is embodied in the emphasis on the moral dimension of the search for knowledge and the ethical principals that must govern professional practitioners.
Yeshiva University is also committed to the love of learning for its own sake (known in Jewish tradition as Tora Lishma) and to teaching and research that stress an unceasing striving for excellence.
A third goal of the University is to serve the general and Jewish communities of the city, the nation and the world, by preparing well-trained professionals in several fields and providing resources for community service.
Yeshiva University traces its origins to Yeshiva Eitz Chaim, founded in 1886 on New York's Lower East Side. Ten years later the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary was founded there and in 1915 the two schools merged under the name of the latter. Under the dynamic leadership of Dr. Bernard Revel, who served as president from 1915 until his death in 1940 the institution embarked on a plan of educational development and growth. In 1929 the institution moved to its present main center in Manhattan's Washington Heights. Liberal arts programs began with the establishment of Yeshiva College in 1928, and the first graduate curriculum (in Jewish studies) was introduced in 1935.
The election of Dr. Samuel Belkin as president, in 1943, inaugurated a new era of expansion. Two years later, university status was granted by the New York State Board of Regents. The institution initiated programs of general and professional studies, research and special projects to benefit many constituencies. These included a college of liberal arts and sciences for women and graduate schools of medicine, law, social work and psychology. Dr. Belkin died in 1976 leaving a record of unparalleled achievement.
Dr. Norman Lamm was then elected president. He undertook a complete review of the University's structure and operations, which resulted in an academic restructuring, development of new fields of study to expand opportunities at the undergraduate schools, enrichment of graduate and professional school resources, and the establishment of a carefully monitored fiscal system and development program to further the University's goals.
YU's newest endeavor in Israel, the Caroline and Joseph S. Gruss Institute, became fully operational in 1977. The Institute, headed by Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, a graduate of Yeshiva College and Harvard University and Rosh Yeshiva of Har Etzion Yeshiva, offers students the opportunity to spend a year intensively studying Talmud, Bible, Jewish History and philosophy within the spiritual, cultural and physical atmosphere that gave birth to Judaism. Semikha (Ordination) programs are also offered.
The three stamps depict Yeshiva University; the Jewish Theological Seminary; and Hebrew Union College. On the tab of each stamp are the initials of the school, the year of its founding, and a picture of the school seal.