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Monday, June 1, 1998

The late historian's student to lead renowned center for the study of the American Jewish experience.


Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman, President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), announced the appointment of Dr. Gary P. Zola as Executive Director of the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives. On July 1, 1998, Zola will become the Center's second director -- succeeding the institution's founding director and namesake, Dr. Jacob Rader Marcus (1896-1995). Marcus served as the director of the American Jewish Archives for nearly 50 years--from the institution's inception in 1947 until his death in 1995. According to Rabbi Zimmerman, Zola will simultaneously join the College-Institute's faculty as Assistant Professor of the American Jewish Experience.


The American Jewish Archives (AJA) is widely regarded as one of the world's leading research centers. Located on HUC-JIR's Cincinnati campus, the AJA is dedicated to the collection and preservation of research materials on the history of Jews and Jewish communities in the Western Hemisphere, but primarily in the United States. It's massive collection -- consisting of more than 10 million documents -- contains an impressive array of memoirs, original documents, genealogical records, books, photos, and images. It is probably the largest collection of source materials found anywhere documenting the history of the Jewish community of a country. The collection also preserves 2 million World Jewish Congress documents, establishing the AJA as an international center for Holocaust research. In 1995, the AJA was renamed The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives in honor of the institution's founder.


In heading the AJA, Dr. Zola will serve as Editor-in-Chief of the American Jewish Archives Journal, the director of the Jacob Rader Marcus Center for the Study of the American Jewish Experience, and co-directors (together with Dr. David Gilner, Director of Libraries) of the American Jewish Periodical Center which houses the nation's most complete collection of Jewish newspapers and magazines on microfilm.


The 46-year-old Zola is a notable scholar of the American Jewish experience. Zola is both a rabbi and a historian. He is the author of Isaac Harby of Charleston (the University of Alabama Press: Tuscaloosa, 1994), a major biographical study on the life of one of the founders of the first organized effort to reform Judaism in the United States of America. His numerous articles have appeared in many scholarly publications including American Jewish History, American Jewish Archives, Canadian Jewish History, and the Journal of Reform Judaism. Recently, Zola edited a new collection of essays on women in the rabbinate entitled: Women Rabbis: Exploration and Celebration (HUC-JIR Alumni Press, 1996). His other edited volumes include a revised edition of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion at One Hundred Years, written by Michael A. Meyer (1993), and To Learn and To Teach: Your Life as a Rabbi, by Dr. Alfred Gottschalk (1988).


"We welcome Dr. Zola to his new responsibilities. He will carry on the late Dr. Marcus's work with energy, creativity and vision. We believe that the AJA has a great future under his direction," noted President Zimmerman.


Since his ordination as a rabbi in 1982 at HUC-JIR, Zola has been serving as HUC-JIR's National Dean of Admissions, Student Affairs, and Alumni Relations. Zola is credited for having developed numerous innovative recruitment programs that succeeded in bringing thousands of applicants to the doors of the Hebrew Union College.

Zola received the B.A. degree, with distinction, from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (1973), and a Master of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois (1976). He earned a Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters (1981) and a Master of Philosophy (1988) from the College-Institute. Rabbi Zola received his Ph.D. in American Jewish History from the College-Institute in 1991.

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 men and women for service to 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.