Two Gratz Students Produce Hip New Jewish Toys

Partners in Yom Tov Toys: Elana Gootson (left) and Jessi Sheslow (right).

Using her coursework at Gratz College, student Elana Gootson launched Yom Tov Toys in 2016 with her business partner and fellow student Jessi Sheslow. The two entrepreneurs are now producing an innovative toy that is different from anything else available on the market today — a toy that seamlessly combines kid appeal with Jewish humanitarian values.   [Read more…]

Gratz College Offers an Online Ph.D. in Holocaust and Genocide Studies

As world events churn perilously with ethnic hatred and violence, expertise in the field of Holocaust and genocide studies is needed more than ever. Atrocities perpetrated by terrorist groups around the world and hate crimes on the rise in the United States and Europe make the promise of “never again” seem to ring hollow. In response to these acts, experts are needed to inform government policy, educate the public, and provide teachers with the tools they need to instruct the next generation on the dangerous repercussions of hatred and intolerance.

This fall, Gratz College will launch an online Ph.D. program in Holocaust and genocide studies, making this important field accessible to students everywhere. This program is the first in the United States to offer a Doctor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies degree, as opposed to a Ph.D. in a related discipline, such as history or sociology. [Read more…]

Middle East Expert David Makovsky Speaks at Gratz Gala

The crowd of 260 that attended Gratz College’s Jeffrey B. Plevan Annual Gala must have left the event with a spring in their step. From the videos during the cocktail hour to the accolades for the honorees – board member Leon Levy, retiring professor Dr. Saul Wachs and former College President Joy Goldstein – the whole event was supercharged with gratitude, positivity and optimism. Even the keynote speaker, David Makovsky, the Ziegler Distinguished Fellow at The Washington Institute, offered a rather upbeat assessment of Israel and its relationship with its Arab neighbors, a topic more often described in terms of deep-rooted problems. [Read more…]

Gratz College Commencement

The public is invited to attend Gratz College’s 117th commencement. Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA) will give the commencement address and will also be awarded an honorary doctorate. Students from across the country will receive graduate degrees in education, Jewish studies, Holocaust and genocide studies and nonprofit management.

In addition to Rep. Boyle, there will be other distinguished recipients of honorary doctorates at the Gratz College commencement. These degrees will be awarded to Dr. Philip Cunningham, director of the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations of Saint Joseph’s University; Leon Levy, successful businessman and 20-year member of the Gratz College Board of Governors, who has dedicated himself to service both in and outside the Jewish community; and Dr. Saul Wachs, beloved Gratz professor and leader in the field of Jewish education, who is retiring after 42 years of teaching at the College.

Refreshments will follow the commencement ceremony.

Jeffrey B. Plevan Annual Gratz College Gala

Gratz College cordially invites you to attend our annual gala.This year, we will honor Leon Levy, a 20-year member of the Gratz College Board of Governors and generous philanthropist, who is active in both the Jewish and secular communities. Mr. Levy is president and founder of a national firm specializing in life insurance, estate planning, benefits planning and wealth management.

At the gala, we will also celebrate Prof. Saul Wachs and Joy Goldstein. Dr. Wachs is retiring after 42 years of teaching at Gratz College. Ms. Goldstein was the College’s first woman president, a role she held until this year when she left to become associate vice president for planning and research at Jewish Federations of North America.

The guest speaker for the evening is David Makovsky, director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at The Washington Institute. During his career, Mr. Makovsky has held high-level positions as a journalist and also served as a senior adviser to former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Online registration for the gala is available here.

Prof. Saul Wachs Retiring After 42 Years at Gratz College

Dr. Saul Wachs, the Rosaline B. Feinstein Professor of Education and Liturgy, is retiring at the age of 85, after 42 years of teaching at Gratz College. Described as a legend within the field of Jewish education, Dr. Wachs will be honored with a tribute at the Gratz annual gala, an honorary doctorate at commencement and a scholarship prize created in his name. He has also been granted emeritus status by the Gratz College Board of Governors.

Dr. Saul Wachs

Dr. Saul Wachs

[Read more…]

From Aaron to Zoe: What’s in a Jewish Name?

At this “lunch & learn,” we will explore Jewish naming customs and superstitions and the origin and meaning of popular names, going back to the Bible, continuing into rabbinic literature and the Middle Ages and including modern Israeli names. We will also discuss Yiddish names popular among Ashkenazic Jews. Names are divided into several categories, such as theophoric names (containing one of the names of God), names based on flora and fauna and names based on emotions or particular situations, like the names of Jacob’s sons.

About the presenter
Rabbi Robert Layman served as executive director of the Delaware Valley and Eastern Pennsylvania Regions of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. He was appointed to that position in 1987 after having served for 13 years as the rabbi of Beth Tikvah-B’nai Jeshurun, a congregation in suburban Philadelphia. Previously he held posts as rabbi or educational director of congregations in New Jersey, Rhode Island and eastern Pennsylvania. Rabbi Layman is a former chairman of the board of the Gratz College Jewish Community High School (JCHS) and has served as president of the Board of Rabbis of Greater Philadelphia. This presentation is an outgrowth of the column “Speaking of Names,” which Rabbi Layman wrote for the Jewish Exponent under the pseudonym Haim Reuveni.

Registration Fee
$15 by April 19
$18 after April 19

Register for this event here.

Gratz College Exhibit: Perfect Precursor to Passover

The Tuttleman Library at Gratz College is hosting an exhibit of historic Haggadot. The Haggadot were created through the centuries, in many languages and under a wide range of circumstances. Some were created from memory — during wars, in ghettos, on kibbutzim.

The highlight of the exhibit is a presentation by Dr. Ierachmiel (Yerach) Daskal. Dr. Daskal is a pathologist with an M.D. and a Ph.D. — and a passion for collecting historic Haggadot. He will share several originals that he has chosen from his own personal collection of over 800 samples.

For more information, contact Hope Matles (215-635-7300, x172). To register, complete the online form.

Refreshments will be served at this event. Admission is free, but a small donation to the library would be greatly appreciated.