UNT Jewish Studies Program reaches new heights
With the great help of the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, the Jewish Studies Program (JSP) at the University of North Texas (UNT) is proud to report that it had outstanding growth this past year. The Federation allocated $7,500 to the JSP in 2007.
In 2006–07, the JSP had 18 faculty members teaching 33 courses (six on Israel) in seven departments in two colleges. In 2007–08, JSP has 22 faculty members teaching 41 courses in nine departments in four colleges. Enrollment in JSP classes increased to 600. The program has nine different courses on the modern state of Israel. (According to a 2006 survey by the Israel on Campus Coalition, only seven of the 386 leading universities in the United States had seven or more courses on modern Israel.) JSP received a two-year grant from the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise to host an Israeli scholar (Eli Avraham of the University of Haifa) as the visiting Schusterman professor of Israel studies. UNT is one of fifteen universities in the U.S. to have received such a grant for one year, and is one of a lesser number to have received the grant for two years.
In addition, the JSP moved into the new Bernard and Audre Rapoport Jewish Studies Program suite of offices in August 2007.
Two new Jewish organizations formed on campus this past year, the Mean Green Mensches for Israel and AEPi fraternity. The new UNT student body president and vice president are both Jewish.
The Jewish Studies Program at UNT is the only Jewish studies program at a public university in the DFW area. At UNT, the largest university in the North Texas region, with more than 34,000 students and more Jewish students (approximately 800) than all other DFW universities combined, the JSP responds to the needs of students and the region. Through its mission, the JSP broadens the understanding of Judaism and Israel among all UNT students regardless of religion and impacts positively the North Texas Jewish community by improving the Jewish experience both within and outside the university setting, by fostering ties between UNT and Jewish institutions in the North Texas area, the United States and Israel. The JSP works closely with Hillel and, unofficially, monitors activity at UNT that might affect Jewish students and the atmosphere for Jews and Judaism.
Currently in the works at the Jewish Studies Program at UNT is the start of a Jewish Studies Library. The Texas Jewish Post is proud to be among the first donors to the project, gifting to them more than 500 books of Jewish content from its personal library. Individuals or families who would like to donate their books or collections on different phases of Judaism, history, ethics, fiction, biographies, etc. are invited to call Dr. Golden, 940-369-8933. He will be delighted to hear from you.
The JSP invites members of the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County to a talk this fall by Meir Shalev, Israel’s most celebrated novelist, on Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. Shalev is a bestselling author in Israel, the Netherlands and Germany, and has been translated into over 20 languages. His books include “Fontanelle,” “Alone in the Desert,” “But a Few Days” and “Esau.”
Former residents Lori Railenau and three of her kids, Phoebe, Atara and Maccabee, still reflect on their great visit here with good friends and hosts, Kim and Abe Factor and sons, earlier this summer. Unable to accompany the family and remaining in St. Louis because of other commitments were dad, Michael Railenau, and oldest daughter, Gabriella. Lori said, “There were still people I wanted to seek out, but we ran out of time. Hopefully on the next visit!”
The legacy of an icon: The Lubavitcher Rebbe
Rabbi Dov Mandel, Chabad of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, writes:
“This past Fourth of July weekend took on a new meaning for many this year. Sunday, July 6, the third of Tammuz, was the 14th yahrzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, of Blessed Memory. Tens of thousands of people from all walks of life waited in a line stretching more than a quarter of a mile to pay their respects at his resting place in the Old Montefiore Cemetery in Queens, N.Y.
“I personally had the tremendous pleasure of spending the Shabbat before the yahrzeit at the Chabad Center adjacent to the cemetery which serves the hundreds of thousands who stream through the Ohel, as the resting place of the Rebbe is known, seeking inspiration and hope. Along with 2,500 fellow Jews crammed into the massive tent hosting all services and meals, the energy generated by the Rebbe over his 40 years of leadership was keenly felt and shared among all present. The voice of prayer, Torah study and words of love and inspiration were constant, preparing us for the day upon which, our tradition tells us, the power of the soul of the departed reaches a higher level. I couldn’t have possibly tuned in to the energy of this day without this powerful Shabbat experience.
“The Zohar, the primary work of the Kabbalah, teaches us that the soul of a righteous person is found in this world even more than during his lifetime. A physical body is limited in its reach, but a soul is spiritual, and has no physical limitations. It is in the work of the Rebbe, who personally earned the admiration of millions of Jews and Gentiles alike, that the fulfillment of this statement is found. The outreach efforts of the Rebbe, which many feared would fizzle out after his passing, have expanded to over ten times their size during these past 14 years. His message — that every single Jew regardless of his or her level of observance is equally important and special — has touched and inspired millions to add more spirituality to their lives, to do one more mitzvah.
“I am fiercely proud to represent the mission of the Rebbe in Tarrant County, and I pledge my continued efforts to inspire every Jew to understand how special it is to be a Jew, and what his or her spiritual potential is.
“Although one might think that this would be a day of mourning, the Rebbe never afforded us such a luxury. As the former chief rabbi of Great Britain, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, is quoted: ‘The Rebbe didn’t leave a legacy; he left standing orders.’ I salute you, my dear Rebbe, on this very special day, and may we all merit the fulfillment of your dream, to see the final redemption of the Jewish people with the coming of Moshiach speedily in our days.”