The Harold Schnitzer Family Program in Judaic Studies at Portland State University announces the creation of the Rabbi Stampfer Professor of Israel Studies.
This position will be the Pacific Northwest's only designated professorship in Israel Studies, and the Judaic Studies program's fourth tenure-line faculty member. With four core faculty in Judaic Studies, PSU can now offer a baccalaureate degree on par with the best undergraduate programs in the field.
"Judaic Studies is a microcosm of PSU itself; as the University has grown and continues to do so, so does the Harold Schnitzer Family Program in Judaic Studies," said Wim Wiewel, PSU's president. "PSU is so fortunate to partner with the Schnitzer family. I look forward to graduation day in the near future when I will bestow an undergraduate with the Judaic Studies bachelor's degree."
Two recent, transformational gifts—along with more than 400 different individual donors, largely from the greater Portland community—allowed Judaic Studies to top its goal for the endowed position. In mid-July the Harold Schnitzer family offered a $150,000 matching challenge grant to which many Judaic Studies supporters responded. International philanthropist and Portland native Lorry I. Lokey, moved by the tremendous growth – and potential for more—in Judaic Studies, announced that he would match the Schnitzer's challenge with his own $150,000, completing funding for the position.
"My family and I feel privileged to have taken part at the inception of the Judaic Studies Program and, now, to be taking part in its continued expansion," said Harold J. Schnitzer for whose family the program is named. "The community has really answered the call to help grow Judaic Studies, and now with Lorry Lokey's additional involvement, the program soon will have an Israel scholar to benefit not just Judaic Studies, but all of PSU and the Pacific Northwest as a region."
Founder of Business Wire, Lokey has been a strong supporter of PSU's Judaic Studies program, applauding its development and playing a key role in its growth. In 2007, Lokey gifted Judaic Studies with what was then its second professorship. With that support, PSU recruited Natan Meir, a scholar of Eastern European Jewry and the Holocaust, to become the Lorry I. Lokey Professor of Judaic Studies.
In addition to Lokey's new gift completing the Schnitzer challenge grant, Lokey is offering an additional $150,000 toward Israel Studies, also in the form of a matching-challenge grant. These funds will support research and travel scholarships for both faculty and students, as well as bring more guest scholars to PSU and continue to build the Millar Library's Judaica collection.
"Judaic Studies is a model program, growing at an impressive rate, partnering with other organizations and attracting hundreds of students and community members every year to its courses and events held both on campus and at venues out in the community," said Marvin A. Kaiser, dean of PSU's College of Liberal Arts and Science, which houses the program. "The University now can offer not only a more robust Judaic Studies program, but another scholarly component to its Middle East Studies Center, now that Israel's culture, history, politics and more will be part of PSU's course catalogue."
It is very fitting that the professorship is named in honor of Rabbi Joshua Stampfer, who was the first instructor to teach a Jewish studies course at PSU. He did so in 1961—then through PSU's Middle East Studies Center—and remained an adjunct professor until 2001. Rabbi Stampfer has left his mark on many Portland institutions, both Jewish and interfaith. PSU's Judaic Studies now will have a permanent professorship in an area dear to the concerns of this community pillar.
"For me, the fulfillment of the professor of Israel Studies is truly the realization of a dream," said Joshua Stampfer, rabbi emeritus of Congregation Neveh Shalom. "A university campus is the best venue for measured dialogue, debate, learning and understanding, especially concerning complex topics like Israel."
"This is a joyous milestone for Judaic Studies," said Michael Weingrad, academic director of Judaic Studies. "It is testimony to the relevance and rigor of our vision and intellectual mission. I'm grateful to the Schnitzers, to Lorry Lokey and to the hundreds of community members of all backgrounds who have shown their support for high-quality university education in Israel and Judaic Studies."