The Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies at UC Berkeley has received a $1 million matching grant from The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation of Los Angeles, with the goal of meeting a $10 million endowment by 2024.
The Institute also received grants totaling nearly $2 million from the Koret Foundation and the Jim Joseph Foundation in partial support of the Institute’s operations as it raises this endowment.
“We’re issuing a challenge to other funders who care about proven campus models for engaging students around the study of Israel and Jewish identity in the modern world. This is an exciting endeavor and we hope others join us in this cause,” said Martin H. Blank Jr., from The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation.
The Gilbert Foundation was a seed funder of the Berkeley Institute when it launched in 2011.
The Institute’s $10 million endowment effort is part of a larger campus campaign in concert with The Center for Jewish Studies and the Magnes Collection at UC Berkeley.
Every semester, the Institute sponsors five Israeli professors to come to Berkeley to teach classes across campus, while also generating new classes (65 in total), conferences and public events. Last academic year, the Institute hosted the 2018 Annual Conference of the Association for Israel Studies which brought 320 Israel studies scholars from around the world to Berkeley.
“Students who want to study Israel in serious ways – whether its historical singularities or contemporary flashpoints – have a home here at Berkeley,” said Alexandra Barr, Undergraduate Fellow of the Berkeley Institute. “In a single week, I can attend an event on Israeli society or Jewish identity and study directly with a professor with expertise in Israeli law, all while my peers engage in similar activities in an entirely supportive environment. We are a network of students learning and growing together in an area about which we are deeply passionate.”
Through its Program on Israel Studies, the Institute integrates Israel studies throughout campus departments, courses, and programs. Its Program on Jewish Law, Thought, and Identity augments Jewish studies’ traditional focus on history and literature with a range of vibrant programs and classes engaging Judaism from other vantage points. The Institute’s Visiting Faculty Program increases undergraduate courses and faculty exposure, and the Institute’s Undergraduate Fellows Program builds a cohort of student leaders in the field.