Center for Jewish Civilization Plans Launch

Georgetown University will launch the Center for Jewish Civilization, an interdisciplinary teaching and research program that will cover all aspects of Jewish civilization, with an event Monday.

The center, which will replace the Program for Jewish Civilization, is the result of almost 12 years of work by university administrators, faculty and donors.

As part of the School of Foreign Service, the center will push forward plans to create a major and a Master of Arts degree in Jewish civilization. The center will focus on a wide range of subjects, including American foreign policy toward the Middle East and Jewish literature and culture.

The formal launch event Monday night will include a keynote address by Rev. Patrick Desbois, president of Yahad-In Unum and director of the Service for Relations with Judaism in the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, University President John J. DeGioia and SFS Dean Joel Hellman.

The center has also hosted a series of events in the run-up to its launch, including an all-day conference Feb. 29 about anti-Semitism. Representatives of the U.S Department of State, as well as area experts from France, Poland, Scandinavia and Holland, will attend the launch.

The Program for Jewish Civilization was originally launched in September 2003 under the leadership of Rabbi Harold White and sought to promote an increased understanding of Jewish civilization at the university.

Rabbi Rachel Gartner said the center will showcase the importance of Jewish life at Georgetown.

“We at Georgetown have a great story to tell about Jewish life. Jewish life and academics have been thriving at Georgetown for a good long time. The Center of Civilization represents a coming to fruition of years of excitement and offers us an incredible opportunity in a big way to tell the story of Jewish life here,” Gartner said.

Gartner also said the center will satisfy a desire for increased education in Jewish civilization at Georgetown.

“From my perspective as the rabbi on this campus, I can say that there is a thirst for more Jewish knowledge in our Jewish student community, and there is an interest in learning about Judaism among students from other backgrounds as well,” Gartner said.

Adam Shinbrot (COL ’18), who is a member of the Georgetown Israel Alliance, wrote in an email to The Hoya that he hopes the CJC will promote Jewish life for all students.

“I think that the launching of the CJC will promote Jewish life on campus for both Jews and non-Jews,” Shinbrot wrote. “At a school like Georgetown, I think that offering students a way to learn about Judaism, anti-Semitism, the holocaust, and Israel (although the holocaust and Israel can be seen in a “non-Jewish context”) is the best way to promote Jewish life and allow students to engage in Semitic studies.”

A full article on the center’s launch will be covered in a future issue of The Hoya. Hoya Staff Writer Jesse Jacobs contributed reporting.

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