FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 12, 2023
The Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies Announces Two Endowed Chairs
Inclusive Jewish learning center expands opportunities for meaningful study
(Jerusalem) – The Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies (www.pardes.org.il), an open, inclusive, diverse and intellectually challenging Jewish learning community based in Jerusalem with programs worldwide, today announced Judy Klitsner as the inaugural Rabbi Joshua S. Bakst Chair in Tanakh and Leah Rosenthal as the inaugural Shapira Family Chair in Rabbinic Literature.
“We are extremely grateful for the generous donations that make our exceptional programs possible, which cultivate a life-long love of Jewish learning, the Jewish people, and Israel,” said Rabbi Leon A. Morris, President of Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies. “Judy and Leah are exceptional teachers who for decades have been furthering our mission of inspiring engagement in Jewish life.”
The Chair in Tanakh is endowed by an anonymous USA donor as part of the Pardes capital and endowment campaign for the generations. The Anonymous donor has named this in honor of Rabbi Joshua S. Bakst, a favorite Tanakh teacher of theirs at the Ramaz School growing up.
The Shapira Family Chair in Rabbinic Literature was established as a tribute to the Shapira family of Pittsburgh, long-time Pardes supporters and lead capital campaign donors. The campaign has reached $5.3 million to date, with a Shapira Foundation match still open for completion. Beit Karen, named in memory of Karen Shapira, z”l, broke ground earlier this year. When complete, the 54,000 square feet facility will enable the organization to serve four times the number of students, with a 250-person theater for public programs, green spaces, new technology and an incubator for new educational initiatives.
Since October 7th, Pardes has proudly remained open, engaged in volunteer work, held community programs, and taken in new learners under its “Still Here, Still Learning, Still Together” mantra.
About Judy Klitsner, inaugural Rabbi Joshua S. Bakst Chair in Tanakh
Judy Klitsner is a senior lecturer in Bible at Pardes, where she has empowered a generation of students to seek meaning and relevance in the text through a skills-based method of learning. Many of her students now employ her methods in educating adults and children throughout the Jewish world. In her classes, Judy weaves together traditional exegesis, modern scholarship and her own original interpretations that are informed by close readings of the text. A disciple of the great Bible teacher Nehama Leibowitz, Judy is a popular international speaker whose teaching style is accessible, interactive and text-based, and she is particularly fond of uncovering the intertextual links– the “vibrant conversation” that takes place between the Bible’s parallel stories.
Judy has taught Bible to Christian and Muslim religious leaders and she has served as a regular visiting lecturer at the London School of Jewish Studies. Judy is the author of the acclaimed book Subversive Sequels in the Bible: How Biblical Stories Mine and Undermine Each Other, which received a National Jewish book award.
Judy is the founding board chair of Sacred Spaces, an organization that seeks to address abuses of power in Jewish institutions.
“I am honored and excited to serve as the inaugural Rabbi Joshua S. Bakst Chair in Tanakh at Pardes,” adds Judy Klitsner. “This position reflects Pardes’ steadfast commitment to making deep, inspiring text study accessible to an ever-widening circle of learners.”
About Leah Rosenthal, inaugural Shapira Family Chair in Rabbinic Literature
Leah Rosenthal is the Shapira Family Chair in Rabbinic Literature and senior educator in Talmud at Pardes, where she has empowered a generation of students to seek meaning and relevance in the text through a skills-based method of learning. Leah holds a B.A. in Talmud and Jewish Philosophy and an M.A. in Jewish Education, both from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She has been teaching Talmud at Pardes for over twenty years and still enjoys doing so. She combines her teaching at Pardes with teaching at the nearby Pelech High School for Girls and raising, with her husband, their five children.
“This chaired position offers immense possibilities to inspire learners in new ways,” Leah Rosenthal. “It’s a privilege that it carries the Shapira name and I look forward to carrying out their remarkable legacy and commitment to Pardes.”
About the Campaign for the Generations
Pardes has launched the $36 million capital and endowment campaign to enhance their physical space and technological infrastructure. Once completed, these improvements will bring the transformative educational experience of Pardes to more students, more teachers, more visitors and more members of the community.
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The Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies (www.pardes.org.il) is an open, inclusive, diverse and intellectually challenging Jewish learning community based in Jerusalem with programs worldwide. Pardes cultivates a life-long love of Jewish learning, the Jewish people and Israel. Pardes inspires engagement in Jewish life — as communal and spiritual leaders, educators and active participants.