Joseph Prize to Henry Louis Gates, Jr. - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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Joseph Prize to Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

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Thursday, May 1, 1997


Henry Louis Gates, Jr., W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of Humanities and Chair of the Afro- American Studies Department at Harvard University, will receive the 1997 Roger E. Joseph Prize at the 1997 Ordination and Investiture Ceremonies of Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion. The Roger E. Joseph Prize is presented annually to an individual or organization that has made a distinctive contribution to humanity by virtue of religious and moral commitment. Ordination and Investiture will be held at Temple Emanu- E, 65th Street and Fifth Avenue on Sunday, May 18, at 9:00 am.

"We are honoring Professor Gates for his scholarly contributions to African-American Studies and his distinguished efforts on behalf of multiethnic and multicultural understanding," said Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman, President of Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion.

Dr. Gates received his Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Cambridge. His books include: The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of Afro-American Literary Criticism, for which he received an American Book Award; Figures in Black: Words, Signs, and the Racial Self; Loose Canons: Notes on the Culture Wars; Colored People: A Memoir, which was awarded the Lillian Smith Prize for Southern Literature and the Chicago Tribune's Heartland Award for nonfiction; and the recently published Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man. Known for his work in recovering black writers from obscurity, Gates is the series editor of the 40-volume Schomburg Library of 19th Century Black Women Writers, as well as the Amistad literary series entitled Critical Perspectives Past and Present, and co-editor of Transition Magazine. He has been the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, as well as numerous prizes, including a Polk Award for Social Commentary.

The Joseph Prize has been awarded on an annual basis since 1978. It provides a $10,000 cash award to be used for further humanitarian efforts. The first award went to Victor Kugler, who gave refuge to Anne Frank and her family in The Netherlands. Other honorees have included Rosa Parks; the people of Le Chambon, a Huguenot village in France, who rescued thousands of Jews during the Holocaust; Helen Suzman, an anti- apartheid activist; and Montana Association of Churches and the First Congregational Church of Billings, Montana for public activism in combating local anti-Semitic hate crimes.

During the New York School's Ordination and Investiture services of the 122nd class, Dr. Alfred Gottschalk, Chancellor of HUC-JIR, will ordain nine men and 13 women as rabbis and three men and three women as cantors. An additional five women and ten men will be ordained at HUC-JIR's Cincinnati School on June 7.

Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates leaders to serve North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, museums, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding.