The Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City has announced an endowment gift from Ruth and Stephen Hendel in support of a center for ethics and justice.
The Hendel Center for Ethics and Justice will formally incorporate the study of Jewish ethics and training in civic engagement into the curriculum at JTS. The gift marks a step forward for the school in harnessing the Jewish call for justice in pursuit of positive social change and responds to the needs and interests of students who increasingly see an intersection between Jewish leadership and social activism.
Rabbi Stephanie Ruskay will serve as the first executive director of the center, while Yonatan Brafman, assistant professor of Jewish thought and ethics and director of the JTS' master's program in Jewish ethics, will serve as academic director.
"We are proud to support the development of the Hendel Center at JTS, which will encourage dialogue, collaboration, and the development of leaders who are equipped to bridge the divides in culture, religion, and politics today," the Hendels, trustees of the Stephen and Ruth Hendel Foundation, said in a statement.
"As an institution, we are devoted to educating students and developing leaders who view civic engagement as an essential element of Judaism," said JTS chancellor Arnold M. Eisen. "Given the divisive state of politics today, the rise in anti-Semitism, and the fact that younger generations, especially millennials, skew more secular than older generations, we believe there has never been a more critical moment for such a center."
(Photo credit: Jewish Theological Seminary)