Twenty-nine years after the establishment of the Jewish Studies program by Joe Cohn in the early 1980s, the faculty of the School of Liberal Arts voted to transform the Jewish Studies Program into a stand-alone department. The new Department of Jewish Studies will officially open its doors on July 1, 2012.
This initiative was undertaken by the faculty of the Jewish Studies program, which had seen significant changes occur over the past few years. More than 400 students now enroll each semester in one of our Jewish Studies classes; recently, the number of majors and minors has more than doubled. An increasingly diverse student body is becoming involved in extra-curricular activities that explore Jewish heritage, history, and culture.
With the establishment of the new department, Jewish Studies will be able to expand its curricular offerings. Along with its current classes, in the next few years, it hopes to attract new faculty whose scholarly work will focus on the Holocaust, Israel, Hebrew, and Yiddish. While the emphasis of the department will be the modern Jewish experience, it will offer a range of courses on Jewish life in the United States and across the world, both in the present and in past times. In addition, it will actively foster service learning opportunities for Tulane students and provide the New Orleans community with a vibrant intellectual life, including lectures and seminars with world-class scholars.
The establishment of the new department not only reflects the interests of the students and faculty but support from important grants, foundations, and alumni. With a generous endowment, we have been able to honor five of our faculty members, Ronna Burger, Michael Cohen, Brian Horowitz, Marline Otte and Gary Remer, as Sizeler Professors of Jewish Studies. Gifts, such as the one from the Mozel Foundation, provide funds for programming and faculty research, while support from the American-Israel Cooperative Enterprise, the Foundation for Jewish Culture, and the Schusterman Foundation allows us to attract young scholars as visiting faculty. In addition, a recent bequest from the late Dr. Henry K. Freedman and a gift from Lynne & Bob Wolfberg have provided funds that will be used in creating the department’s new permanent home.
Becoming a department is an opportunity--it represents potential. Over the next few years, our goal is to become a world-class center of Jewish learning and student-faculty interaction. We are extremely excited that this journey has now begun.