Jewish Studies Chair Announced at UC Riverside

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Endowed chair fosters academic study of Judaism, support for Jewish students

By on February 20, 2014

Menorah

UC Riverside has established an endowed chair in Jewish studies.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — The establishment of the endowed Maimonides Chair in Jewish Studies at the University of California, Riverside, announced today, assures a permanent place for Judaism in the academic and community life of the campus.

Nearly three dozen individuals, foundations and organizations contributed a total of $504,000 to endow the chair, which will fund research and other activities aimed at fostering better understanding of Judaism and the history and heritage of Jewish people.

“For nearly a decade the campus has worked toward the creation of an endowed chair in Jewish studies,” said Stephen Cullenberg, dean of the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Studies. “Campus support of this chair comes from the highest levels of leadership and sends a very clear and strong message about the importance of having a world-class academic in Jewish studies to the ranks of our faculty.”

The appointment of a scholar to the chair is expected to be announced by spring.

Establishing an endowed chair in Jewish studies will help enable Jewish students to find renewed pride in their heritage and for others to better understand the religion; create a friendly, non-threatening space for students to discuss and practice Judaism; anchor a cross-campus, multidisciplinary and pluralistic curriculum of Jewish studies; and share leadership, counsel and knowledge with surrounding Jewish communities, Cullenberg added.

“The establishment of an endowed chair in Jewish studies adds great distinction to the Department of Religious Studies,” said Pashaura Singh, department chair and holder of the Saini Chair in Sikh Studies. “It is an honor that fosters academic excellence and affords many mutual benefits to both the university and the chair holder. The endowed chair provides invaluable financial support that the chair holder uses in research, teaching and outreach activities.”

The chair in Jewish studies is named for Moses Maimonides, a Spanish Sephardic Jew who was a rabbi, scholar, philosopher, astronomer and physician in medieval Spain and Egypt. Born in Córdoba, Spain, in 1135, he is regarded as one of the foremost philosophers in Jewish history.

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