In Global First, JDC Entwine and HUC-JIR Announce Graduate Fellowship for Global Jewish Leaders

Monday, May 2, 2016

Jane Weitzman – distinguished Jewish community and philanthropic leader – provides founding gift to foster activism on global Jewish issues among HUC-JIR rabbinical, cantorial, and Jewish education students

In a first initiative of its kind, JDC Entwine – the growing young adult initiative of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) – and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) announced the establishment of the Weitzman-JDC Fellowship for Global Jewish Leaders. The pioneering graduate fellowship – founded by Jane Weitzman, a JDC Board Member and Jewish community and philanthropic leader, together with her husband, shoe designer Stuart Weitzman – will provide HUC-JIR rabbinical, cantorial, and Jewish education students significant expertise in Jewish needs around the world and in Israel.

“While all major U.S. universities today have top graduate programs developing the next generation of leaders to face the challenges of our changing world, there is a desperate need in the North American Jewish community to immerse our up-and-coming leaders in issues confronting Jews internationally,” said Jane Weitzman. “I am proud to combine my passions for Jewish life and education worldwide to ensure that our rising rabbis, cantors, and Jewish educators understand the complex world that Jews live in.”

Over the coming five years, the Weitzman-JDC Fellowship at HUC-JIR will train fifteen fellows to bring a deep understanding and passion for global Jewish issues to their congregations, classrooms, and communities across North America. These fellows will travel to some of the 70 countries that JDC works in today. The fellowship will also have significant impact on the wider HUC-JIR student body with increased opportunities to engage in international Jewish issues as part of their HUC-JIR course work. The intention is that future Jewish leaders will emerge with an expanded awareness of these issues in congregations and beyond.

“This inspired, creative and exciting collaboration will offer our students ever greater opportunities to influence the global Jewish community, and bring Jews together in shared purpose around the world. When Jews face challenges anywhere, we must feel a deep sense of responsibility that transcends national borders. We are exceedingly grateful to Jane and Stuart, and to our partners at JDC, for helping to build this compelling new paradigm of global training for our students,” said Rabbi Aaron D. Panken, Ph.D., President, HUC-JIR.

Weitzman-JDC Fellows will work from a special curriculum developed with HUC-JIR to foster the concept of global Jewish responsibility and activism on Jewish issues among their congregants, students, and the wider North American Jewish community.

“We believe in investing in our rising Jewish professional and lay leaders, setting them up for high-impact, fearless leadership in a complicated, shifting world that also has so much potential and opportunity for meaningful Jewish life. It is inspiring that philanthropists like the Weitzman family, and institutions like HUC-JIR, are as excited as JDC to pioneer new models of global Jewish leadership,” said Sarah Eisenman, Executive Director of JDC Entwine and JDC Assistant Executive Vice President.

About HUC-JIR: 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. www.huc.edu

About JDC: The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is the world’s leading Jewish humanitarian assistance organization. JDC works in more than 70 countries and in Israel to alleviate hunger and hardship, rescue Jews in danger, create lasting connections to Jewish life, and provide immediate relief and long-term development support for victims of natural and man-made disasters. www.JDC.org

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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. www.huc.edu