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Wednesday, January 1, 2003

Grant will enable world renowned American Jewish Archives to expand humanities programs and create international electronic learning center

CINCINNATI, OHIO — The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives— at the Cincinnati, Ohio campus of Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR)—has been awarded a first-time National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Challenge Grant in the amount of $500,000 to support the construction of its new education building. In addition to providing ample space for additional programs and exhibits, the new Edwin A. Malloy Education Building will house the planned Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati International Learning Center for the Study of the American Jewish Experience. To receive this grant, The Marcus Center (AJA) has committed itself to raise 1.5 million in non-federal matching funds to establish a total resource of $2 million.

In a letter notifying The Marcus Center that its application to the NEH Challenge Grants Program had been successful, NEH Chairman Dr. Bruce Cole wrote, “Your application was considered carefully during the NEH review process, which includes peer review and specialist review along with deliberation by the National Council on the Humanities and the Office of the Chairman.”

The National Council on the Humanities is comprised of a board of twenty-six citizens nominated by the President of the United States and confirmed by the Senate. The National Council convenes three times annually to advise the Chairman of the Endowment. Of The Marcus Center’s Challenge Grant proposal, one panelist reporting to the Council wrote that, “(The AJA) is America’s premier Jewish historical archive and its importance is evident to all scholars concerned with America’s Jewish history,” Another reviewer noted that, “The AJA collections are beyond doubt of great significance for humanities research, being among the largest repositories of materials reflecting the American Jewish Experience.”

“(The Marcus Center’s proposal) makes a convincing case for the centrality of the AJA activities to the humanities and for their relevance to scholars in a wide variety of disciplines and from many geographical areas,” said another panelist.

"These funds will enable us to enrich the study of American history and the humanities in general,” said Dr. Gary P. Zola, Executive Director of The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives and Associate Professor of the American Jewish Experience at HUC-JIR. "These grant funds generously support our humanities activities by fostering scholarship, sustaining educational programs, and making our records more accessible to a broader audience. The Marcus Center’s new facilities will raise the profile of the study of American Jewish life to new heights by shedding light on how a small religious minority has adapted to life in the American nation and, in doing so, influenced its culture significantly."

The new learning center's technological resources — including distance learning spaces and interactive video capabilities — will make AJA's records widely accessible to faculty, students, staff, and even international audiences. The grant will also be used to create an endowment for the AJA.

Specifically, the endowment will provide for an expanded educator's position, which will enhance existing and proposed educational programs.

"This state-of-the-art technology will increase the degree of engagement by those who, due to geography or limited funds, have had insufficient access to the holdings of the AJA, the HUC-JIR world renowned library, and to the expertise of our faculty and professional staff," said Dr. Zola.

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.