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.

Gratz College CLE Program for Attorneys

For attorneys seeking CLE credit, we offer two programs in one day, with full-day and half-day options. Auditors, interested in program topics but not seeking CLE credit, are welcome to attend as well at a significantly reduced rate.

Morning Program
“Development Rights (and Fights) Under the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code — Private Property Rights vs. The Public Interest — The View From Both Sides of the Fence”
1 Ethics Credit and 2 Substantive Credits
Continental breakfast: 8:15 a.m.   Program: 8:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
Cost: $120

Afternoon Program
“Autism Services and the Law in Pennsylvania”
3 Substantive Credits
Lunch: 12:15 p.m.   Program: 12:45 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Cost: $120

The full-day option includes both programs, which means a total of 6 CLE credits, along with continental breakfast and lunch, at the discounted rate of $218.

Register here for any of the options, including auditing. For additional information, contact Mindy Cohen at 215-635-7300, x155.

The Arnold and Esther Tuzman Memorial Holocaust Teach-In

This biennial event draws hundreds of people to Gratz College for an afternoon of special programming on the Holocaust and genocide. Particularly exciting this year is the keynote address, which is being delivered by Dr. Deborah Lipstadt, the Emory University professor and expert on Holocaust denial, who was sued for libel in the United Kingdom for labeling English historian David Irving a Holocaust denier. Lipstadt’s trial is the subject of the new motion picture “Denial.”

The keynote address will be followed by two sessions in which participants can choose among a list of seminars on a wide range of topics, including music from the Holocaust, survivor stories, discussions of other genocides and much more. Hawa Abdallah Mohammed Salih, a survivor of genocide in Darfur who was presented the International Women of Courage Award by Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton, will share her experiences during one of these seminars. See the brochure for all seminar descriptions.

Schedule: Special programming for teachers begins at 9 a.m. Doors open for the main program at 1 p.m., with the program beginning at 1:30.

Admission Fees: General admission is $10; higher fees for teachers and attorneys seeking professional education credit.


Gratz Night at the Movies in Jenkintown: “Denial”

“Denial” is the recently released film starring Rachel Weisz, Timothy Spall and Tom Wilkinson. It is the story of the trial of Emory University professor Deborah Lipstadt, who was sued for libel by British historian David Irving for having labeled him a Holocaust denier.

Admission to the movie at a reduced rate is available at the Hiway Theater at the 7:30 p.m. showing on Tuesday, November 1, for friends of Gratz College. Mention Gratz and you will be admitted at the member rate of $6 per person. First-come, first-served general admission seating. No reserved seats.

Deborah Lipstadt herself will be appearing at Gratz College on November 13 for the Tuzman Memorial Holocaust Teach-In.

For more information about the movie or the Holocaust Teach-In, contact Mindy Blechman, 215-635-7300, x154.

Beyond Belief, Behavior and Belonging: Can You Still Be Jewish?

“Jewish but not by religion” is not a contradiction in terms, but rather, a challenge to the definition of just who it is we call Jewish. Pew’s Portrait of Jewish Americans (2013) reports that Jews not by religion (JNR) constitute 20 percent of American Jewry and nearly a third of its young people.

At the Gratz College Shusterman Distinguished Scholar Lecture, Dr. Debra Renee Kaufman, professor emerita and Matthews Distinguished University Professor at Northeastern University, will discuss this topic. From data that she has been collecting for over a decade, she will also share insights into the importance of being Jewish in the lives of these young adults who identify as “Jewish but not by religion.”

This program is free and open to the public. Register online or contact Mindy Cohen, 215 635-7300 x155.