How long does it take to grow a Jewish Studies program? It is analogous to raising a child – it is hard to mark when that task comes to its end.
The idea for Jewish studies and Jewish life was conceived in 2013. It took commitment from our Queens’ President Dr. Davies and the Queens’ administration. It required the vision of Dr. Mike Kobre and his colleagues who designed the Jewish Studies minor. It took an appreciation of Jewish wisdom by all those professors who taught and teach courses that comprise our minor — courses like Basic Biblical studies, Nazi Germany, and Judaism, Film and Literature. It required a love of Judaism from our many donors who wanted to see another center for Jewish learning and Jewish life created in Charlotte.
We are celebrating our second year of Jewish Studies at Queens University. Dozens of students are taking courses in Judaism. Community members are enrolled in a lunch and learn program that extends through the semester. Rabbi Schindler offers lectures in other courses from Comparative Ethics to Spanish Literature (that focuses on Jewish writers) to speaking to education students about creating classrooms that are inclusive of their religiously diverse students to speaking to students in design and architecture courses about spiritual space.
The best part of our second year in growing the Jewish Studies program was two-fold. First, that students want to learn about Judaism and are transformed by that education. What they learn makes a difference in their lives. Perhaps they understand the roots of their own faith. Most definitely, they have a greater understanding of the diversity around them. A second high point of our year has been celebrating the remarkably generous gift from Lori and Eric Sklut who are endowing the Sklut Professorship in Jewish Studies. This gift enables the program we are developing to sink its roots deep into Queens University’s soil and grow in strength and beauty. Jewish Studies now has a permanent home at Queens University.
How long does it take to grow Jewish Studies program? The answer is a like the answer to the question of how long it takes to grow a child. Our job is never done. We craft and care and invest and finally reap nachas, pride, in our work. Just like we stand in awe of the two year old child who can speak, run, learn, challenge, celebrate, and who is a critical part of the family into which he/she was born, we stand in awe of our two year Jewish Studies program that is now a permanent part of the Queens family.
Thank you to all of you who are the village raising this Jewish Studies program!