Jane Weitzman – Jewish community and philanthropic leader –
provides founding gift to foster activism on global Jewish issues
among HUC-JIR rabbinic, cantorial, and Jewish education students
In a first initiative of its kind, JDC Entwine – the growing young adult initiative of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) – and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) have launched the Weitzman-JDC Fellowship for Global Jewish Leaders. The pioneering graduate fellowship – founded by Jane Weitzman, a JDC Board Member and Jewish community and philanthropic leader, together with her husband, shoe designer Stuart Weitzman – will provide HUC-JIR rabbinic, cantorial, and Jewish education students significant expertise in Jewish needs around the world and in Israel.
“While all major U.S. universities today have top graduate programs developing the next generation of leaders to face the challenges of our changing world, there is a desperate need in the North American Jewish community to immerse our up-and-coming leaders in issues confronting Jews internationally,” said Jane Weitzman. “I am proud to combine my passions for Jewish life and education worldwide to ensure that our rising rabbis, cantors, and Jewish educators understand the complex world that Jews live in.”
Over the coming five years, the Weitzman-JDC Fellowship at HUC-JIR will train fifteen fellows to bring a deep understanding and passion for global Jewish issues to their congregations, classrooms, and communities across North America. These fellows will travel to some of the 70 countries that JDC works in today. The fellowship will also have significant impact on the wider HUC-JIR student body with increased opportunities to engage in international Jewish issues as part of their HUC-JIR course work. The intention is that future Jewish leaders will emerge with an expanded awareness of these issues in congregations and beyond.
“This inspired, creative and exciting collaboration will offer our students ever greater opportunities to influence the global Jewish community, and bring Jews together in shared purpose around the world. When Jews face challenges anywhere, we must feel a deep sense of responsibility that transcends national borders. We are exceedingly grateful to Jane and Stuart, and to our partners at JDC, for helping to build this compelling new paradigm of global training for our students,” said Rabbi Aaron Panken, President of HUC-JIR.
Weitzman-JDC Fellows will work from a special curriculum developed with HUC-JIR to foster the concept of global Jewish responsibility and activism on Jewish issues among their congregants, students, and the wider North American Jewish community.
“We believe in investing in our rising Jewish professional and lay leaders, setting them up for high-impact, fearless leadership in a complicated, shifting world that also has so much potential and opportunity for meaningful Jewish life. It is inspiring that philanthropists like the Weitzman family, and institutions like HUC-JIR, are as excited as JDC to pioneer new models of global Jewish leadership,” said Sarah Eisenman, Executive Director of JDC Entwine and JDC Assistant Executive Vice President.