Shalem College Receives Challenge Grant of $12.5 Million

Tikvah Fund aims to spur the founding of Israel’s first liberal arts college

The Shalem Center announced today that it has received a $12.5 million unrestricted challenge grant from the Tikvah Fund to help establish Israel’s first liberal arts college. The grant, intended to galvanize other major philanthropists to support the launching of Shalem College, provides a one-to-one match for gifts that are received during the college’s first four years. Shalem’s application for accreditation from Israel’s Council for Higher Education is pending, and it is anticipated that the college will open in fall 2012.

While institutions of higher education in Israel generally focus on disciplinary study aimed at training students for careers, Shalem College will be the first college in Israel dedicated to preparing its graduates for a lifetime of learning, service, and leadership through a rigorous core curriculum that will provide a common basis of understanding for all students. This unique program of study uses a Great Books approach to cover the Western tradition, Jewish texts and ideas, and essential issues facing contemporary Israel, and also teaches students foundational skills and concepts in the natural and social sciences, literature, and the arts.

Shalem College will initially offer a pair of majors specially created to meet the needs of Israeli society: An interdisciplinary program of Philosophy and Jewish Thought, which seeks to integrate the best of the Western and Jewish traditions; and a course of study in Middle East and Islamic Studies, presenting a gateway to understanding this critical region through intensive study of Arabic and of the foundational texts and ideas that are playing a pivotal role in shaping its future.

“This is a truly transformational gift,” said Shalem College President-designate Martin Kramer. “The Jewish people requires leadership that can best be developed through the liberal arts, the form of education that is considered the ‘gold standard’ around the world for fostering the knowledge, skills and commitment needed for active and engaged citizenship. The Tikvah Fund’s foresight will lead to the creation of a new generation of idea-driven leaders capable of meeting the challenges facing Israel and the Jewish people.”