On January 5, 2017, President Barack Obama announced his intention to re-appoint Dr. Gary P. Zola as Member, Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, the key Administration post Dr. Zola has held since 2011. Dr. Zola is the Edward M. Ackerman Family Distinguished Professor of the American Jewish Experience and Reform Jewish History at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion's (HUC-JIR) Cincinnati campus and Executive Director of The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati.
"These fine public servants bring a depth of experience and tremendous dedication to their important roles," said President Obama. "I know they will serve the American people well."
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.
"I am honored to serve with Gary Zola, whose work exemplifies what the Commission was founded to do—to preserve, protect, and memorialize America's cultural heritage abroad,” noted Commission Chair Lesley Weiss.
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, Dr. 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.
“Dr. Gary Zola’s scholarly contributions and reputation as a historian are just a few of the reasons I’ve consistently recommended that the President reappoint him to the Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad,” added U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio. “Dr. Zola understands the significance of keeping our nation’s diverse cultural heritage alive. I applaud his reappointment and know the field of historical preservation will benefit greatly from his continued service on the commission.”
On July 24, 2014 the Commissionheld 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.
“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 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 Jewryand Women Rabbis: Exploration & Celebration.
“My good friend Gary Zola — a distinguished scholar, educator and public servant — has served well in his two terms as Member, Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad,” said U.S. Senator Rob Portman of Ohio. “I want to congratulate him on this well-deserved reappointment.”
Media: For questions or additional information, please contact Joyce Kamen at (513) 543-8109 or Manda Hurdelbrink at (513) 324-8610.
The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, founded in 1947 by its namesake on the historic campus of the Hebrew Union College‐Jewish Institute of Religion, is committed to preserving a documentary heritage of the religious, organizational, economic, cultural, personal, social and family life of American Jewry. The Marcus Center contains over 15,000 linear feet of archives, manuscripts, nearprint materials, photographs, audio and videotapes, microfilm, and genealogical materials.