Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), North America’s premier institution of Jewish higher education and the leadership development center of Reform Judaism, today announced it received a $3.75 million grant from the Koret Foundation to establish The Koret Foundation Scholars Program. This transformational grant will fully fund tuition for the Year-In-Israel Program (YII), required for all first-year rabbinical, cantorial, and education students, and enhance the Program’s offerings. The grant will be administered over a three-year period, beginning in the 2017-2018 academic year.
Rabbi Aaron Panken, Ph.D., HUC-JIR President, stated, “We are enormously grateful to the Koret Foundation for their commitment to our strategic vision of advancing Jewish higher education that is imbued with a love for Israel and Jewish peoplehood. The Koret Foundation Scholars Program will enable us to recruit more outstanding Jewish leaders who will build and sustain the crucial sense of mutual responsibility – arevut – between North American Jewish communities and the State and people of Israel for generations to come.”
“The Koret Foundation is proud to support our next generation of Jewish leaders during their Year- In-Israel program, helping these students build a lifelong connection to Israel and its people and culture,” said Jeffrey Farber, CEO of the Koret Foundation. “This partnership with HUC-JIR aligns with our mission to deepen connections among Jewish communities in North America, Israel, and around the world. Now more than ever, it is crucial to strengthen community bonds and understanding among Jewish people and to foster dialogue with people of all faiths.”
Dr. Anita Friedman, Board President of the Koret Foundation, added, “The 21st-century Jewish world is an especially dynamic one that simultaneously presents both inspiring opportunities and existential challenges. The Koret Foundation's Board is impressed with HUC-JIR's vision and leadership. We are enthusiastic about this new Scholars Program because HUC-JIR plays such a pivotal role in the shaping of the next chapter in our long history.”
The Koret Foundation Scholars Program will provide meaningful financial support for prospective students seeking admission to HUC-JIR by easing the financial burdens of their first year of study. This essential support, coupled with HUC-JIR’s 99% placement rates for its graduates, will help to further increase HUC-JIR’s enrollment.
The commitment to Israel is a core tenet of HUC-JIR’s mission. The YII Program was established in 1970 to foster a vibrant connection to Israel and Jewish peoplehood among the future clergy and educators leading North American Jewry. This year-long educational and experiential program is based at HUC-JIR’s Taube Family Campus in Jerusalem.
Students participate in an unparalleled Israel immersion experience through the Scheuer Seminar’s hands-on educational trips throughout the country, meetings with experts on the social, political, educational, and economic issues affecting modern Israel, and encounters with Israel’s robust contemporary culture, supported, in part, by UJA-Federation of New York. Rigorous studies in Bible, Modern Hebrew, Rabbinic Texts, and Jewish History and professional development seminars provide the foundation for students’ continued studies in the U.S. at campuses in Cincinnati, Los Angeles, and New York. Community service projects link the students to Israel’s diverse communities as they experience a broad range of social service agencies and organizations and establish lifelong relationships with Israeli peers, and opportunities to visit and engage with communities in the Former Soviet Union broaden students’ perspectives.
ABOUT HEBREW UNION COLLEGE-JEWISH INSTITUTE OF RELIGION: Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York is North America's premier institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. As the pluralistic center of innovation for Jewish life and learning, its internationally recognized faculty prepares rabbis, cantors, leaders in Jewish education, Jewish nonprofit professionals, pastoral counselors, and scholars to strengthen and transform Jewish communities and the larger world. huc.edu
ABOUT THE KORET FOUDATION: Based in San Francisco, the Koret Foundation has served as a pillar of impactful giving for more than 35 years. The Foundation helps facilitate creative ideas to advance the civic, cultural, and educational organizations that are essential to maintaining a vibrant and distinctive Bay Area. In addition, the Foundation supports and empowers institutions that promote Jewish connection and identity wherever located. Founded in 1979, the Foundation has granted over $500 million to benefit these important causes. koret.org
What difference does this tuition-free year make for our students? Hear for yourself:
Samuel Kanter, Year-In-Israel Rabbinical Student: “Taking the leap to go to rabbinical school was a scary risk for me. Knowing the Koret Foundation Scholarship was there made this risk seem less daunting. Now that I'm in Israel, I'm so grateful I decided to take this step in my journey (and on a practical level, not having to pay tuition allows for more of an opportunity to explore Israel and the surrounding countries!).”
Stephanie Greene, Second-Year Cantorial Student: “The Koret Foundation Scholarship allowed me the freedom to truly soak up every moment and experience during my Year-In-Israel with less of a financial burden. I am so grateful for this gift!”
Samuel Rosen, Second-Year Cantorial Student: “The generous funding we received from the Koret Foundation not only gave us the ability to flourish with less burden, but it also allowed for the enrichment of other transformative experiences. For example, nearly two dozen students were able to participate in the FSU Pesach Project, which changed the lives of countless Jewish people across Eastern Europe. And, in turn, our lives were changed for the better.”
Sivan Rotholz, Year-In-Israel Rabbinical Student: “One third of our class is age 30 and over, meaning we hold higher education degrees, have families, and/or are leaving other careers behind to pursue our calling to become Jewish clergy. We are the students that the Koret Foundation's funding impacts the most. We are also the students that make this the most diverse class in HUC-JIR's history. Without the Koret Foundation's funding tuition for this year, we would not be here.