President Obama Reappoints Dr. Gary P. Zola to Key Administration Post

Friday, October 24, 2014

Dr. Gary P. Zola

On Thursday, October 23, 2014, President Barack Obama announced his intention to re-appoint Dr. Gary P. Zola, Executive Director of The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives and Professor of the American Jewish Experience at the Cincinnati campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), to the key Administration post Zola has held since 2011 as Member, Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad. The President also announced his intention to reappoint members Herbert Block and Dr. Richard Weisberg to the Commission.

“These fine public servants bring a depth of experience and tremendous dedication to their important roles,” said President Obama. “I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come.”

The Commission—an independent agency of the Government of the United States of America—is directed by law to fulfill two primary functions:

1. To identify and report on cemeteries, monuments, and historic buildings in Eastern and Central Europe that are associated with the heritage of U.S. citizens, particularly endangered properties, and
2. To obtain, in cooperation with the Department of State, assurances from the governments of the region that the properties will be protected and preserved.

2012: Justice Stephen Breyer administers the oath to the newly appointed members of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad

Dr. Zola has previously served in a number of leadership positions that have heightened the awareness of how American Jewish history illuminates the history of the American nation. Dr. Zola chaired the congressionally recognized Commission for Commemorating 350 Years of American Jewish History (2002 to 2005). In 2006, Zola was the first American Jewish historian and the first American rabbi to receive an appointment to the Academic Advisory Council of the congressionally recognized Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.

On July 24, 2014 the Commission held a dedication ceremony—conceived by Dr. Zola— at the Terezin Memorial (the former Nazi concentration camp also known as Theresienstadt in the Czech Republic) in memory of Rabbi Regina Jonas—widely acknowledged as the first woman rabbi in Jewish history. During the ceremony, a plaque in Rabbi Jonas’ memory, presented by the Commission and HUC-JIR, was unveiled. (Rabbi Sally Priesand, the first woman rabbi in America, was ordained at HUC-JIR in Cincinnati in 1972.)

“Events like the one held in Terezin speak to the heart of the Commission’s mission,” noted Dr. Zola. “I am proud of the significant historical resources that the American Jewish Archives and the Hebrew Union College continues to proffer to the nation, and I am honored to continue to serve the President on this vital Commission."

Zola is the author of, We Called Him Rabbi Abraham: Lincoln and American Jewry, a Documentary History. It is the first volume of primary source documents—most little known— to focus on the history of Lincoln’s image, influence, and reputation among American Jews. He is also the author of The Americanization of the Jewish Prayer Book, Isaac Harby of Charleston and has edited several books, including The Dynamics of American Jewish History: Jacob Rader Marcus's Essays on American Jewry and Women Rabbis: Exploration & Celebration.

For questions and additional information, please contact Joyce Kamen at 513.543.8109 or Manda Hurdelbrink at 513.324.8610.

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, 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.