By Debby Shoctor
(EJNews) – For decades, Jewish studies at the University of Alberta has formed an important link between the university and Edmonton’s Jewish community. There have been Jewish students at the university since 1912. With the retirement of two well-respected UAlberta scholars, there is an urgent need to renew Jewish studies.
However, the University has told us that it has no funds currently available for another tenure-track position. An endowed chair for this position would cost between $4-6m. Therefore, The Jewish Federation of Edmonton is helping the Faculty of Arts to raise funds for this position, which would be a 5-year contract faculty position. We need to raise $500,000 to cover the term of this position. An additional $175,000 will be contributed by the Faculty. The hope is to establish a new position that would attract an emerging Jewish studies scholar to the university. The successful candidate would participate in community outreach, encourage mores students to pursue Jewish Studies, and supervise graduate students who conduct important research that contributes to an overall better understanding of Judaism and Jewish culture.
The study of Judaism is essential to understanding the history of Christianity and Islam, the world’s two largest religions. Your support of our over-and-above campaign will ensure that Judaism is fully represented in the religious studies program. With your support, future students will have the opportunity to explore the rich traditions of Jewish Culture.
Led by program director Professor Andrew Gow, religious studies is a program in the Faculty of Arts that examines religious traditions from around the world to better understand the vast influence of religion on our everyday lives. A new faculty lecturer position would continue the work done by Prof. Gow, Prof. Francis Landy and Prof. Ehud Ben Zvi, who have all retired. The five-year term of this position would be renewable, allowing the University to continue to offer a wide range of courses in Jewish studies, and to recruit and attract students.
Your over-and-above donation will help us to achieve this goal. All regular donations to this campaign are being handled by the University so as not to overlap with our UJA campaign goals. Whether you consider an over-and-above gift, or a five-year term gift to the University, your investment will help ensure Jewish culture and heritage are protected and understood.
Debby Shoctor is CEO of the Jewish Federation of Edmonton.