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CU Celebrates 50-Year Partnership with Jewish Theological Seminary

Kripke Tower , located at 122 Street and Broadway, stands above the official entrance lobby of JTS.
Courtesy of The Jewish Theological Seminary

Columbia University and The Jewish Theological Seminary celebrate the 50th anniversary of their joint dual-degree program, one of the most successful collaborations between a Jewish seminary and a secular institution in the United States. The program, launched in 1954, enables undergraduates to receive two degrees simultaneously: a bachelor of arts from the Albert A. List College of Jewish Studies at JTS and a bachelor of arts or science from Columbia University's School of General Studies.

"Today, Columbia University and The Jewish Theological Seminary continue to represent the gold standard in academic excellence and educational innovation," said Ismar Schorsch, chancellor of JTS. "A model in the successful application of the concept of cultural pluralism, the joint program's integration of general and Jewish education produces graduates who become leaders in their professional and communal lives."

The program is part of a larger partnership between Columbia and its affiliate JTS, located just a block away from the University's Morningside Heights campus. Columbia and JTS students, both graduate and undergraduate, have enjoyed reciprocity, cross-registration opportunities and other joint privileges for years.

"We are proud of our long-term alliance with The Jewish Theological Seminary, the world's preeminent center for the academic study of Conservative Judaism," said Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger. "Through our joint program, Columbia students have access to some of the leading global scholars in Jewish history, thought and culture. We look forward to deepening and strengthening our ties over the next 50 years."

Columbia and JTS will hold the "The Best of Both Worlds," a celebration of the 50 th anniversary of this distinctive program, on Sunday and Monday, Nov. 14 and 15 at JTS and Columbia in Morningside Heights.

Sunday's events include Mitzvah Projects (good deeds) at 1:30 p.m.; "When Can the Torah Be Changed? When Can It Not?" a lecture by Joel Roth, JTS Louis Finkelstein Professor of Jewish Thought and Halakha, at 2 p.m.; and a gala reception at 6:30 p.m. with JTS Chancellor Schorsch and CU President Bollinger.

On Monday, Nov.15, Rabbi Joseph Brodie, JTS vice president for student affairs and a joint program graduate, will be honored at a breakfast at 9:30 a.m. An alumni panel discussion and reunion luncheon will follow a 10:00 a.m. lecture on "The Best of Both Worlds: The Relationship Between Judaism and Islam." The lecture will be presented by Benjamin Gampel, associate professor and Dina and Eli Field Family Chair in Jewish History at JTS, and Peter Awn, dean of Columbia University's School of General Studies and a professor of Islamic religion and comparative religion.

"Fifty years ago, Columbia President Grayson Kirk and JTS Chancellor Louis Finkelstein signed an agreement allowing students in both institutions to earn bachelor's degrees in liberal arts and Jewish studies through a joint program," said Chancellor Schorsch. "Dr. Kirk hailed the program as a symbol of 'the growing awareness by both institutions of the need for a broad liberal arts background' for the individuals who would 'guide our country's spiritual life.' "

Reservations are required. Further information is available by contacting the joint program event hotline at (212) 280-6012 or by visiting www.jtsa.edu/list/jp50.

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Published: Nov 11, 2004
Last modified: Jan 10, 2005

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