For more than a hundred years, JTS has made its home in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. We’ve built strong bonds with our community through civic engagement, community service, interfaith dialogue, and public events featuring prominent scholars, writers, artists, and community and religious leaders.
The 21st Century Campus will allow us to expand and deepen our relationships with the people and institutions that make up the diverse, vibrant community of which we’re proud to be a part.
In the words of Chancellor Arnold Eisen:
“We want JTS to be open to the bustling traffic of a wide variety of people and ideas spilling into our new performance space, library, and atrium—as well as outward from our campus, to our neighborhood, our city, our society, and the world.”
Here are some of the ways we serve and partner with our neighbors—and will increasingly do so in the future:
A New Library: One of the major benefits of our new library will be its state-of-the-art facilities to protect and display the rare Jewish manuscripts and other treasures in our collection. This will allow us to bring in many more people to view these treasures. We look forward, for instance, to hosting school and community groups for educational presentations and to offering a regular schedule of exhibits. And of course, we will continue to welcome scholars from around the world to use our extraordinary collection for study and research.
Public Lectures and Performances: Our new performance space will be an inviting, accessible, acoustically rich auditorium for public lectures, music, and varied artistic presentations. It will allow us to expand and enhance our roster of public events, featuring talented performers as well as major public figures discussing books, religion, culture, and contemporary issues. A sampling of recent events includes the actor Mandy Patinkin on activism and the arts, David Milliband of the International Rescue Committee on the global refugee crisis, and a unique gathering of clergy, vocalists, and musicians from the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian traditions leading an evening of song and prayers for peace.
Ethics and Justice: JTS has a long history of harnessing the Jewish call for justice in pursuit of positive social change. You may have seen our students out registering voters or giving people information about SNAP food-assistance benefits. In April 2017 we collaborated with a multifaith group of local institutions in leading hundreds of people on a march for justice and tolerance. (This has led to ongoing work among the participating institutions, which are now collaborating on an arts and justice initiative.) In early 2018, we hosted the Reverend William Barber, acclaimed civil rights leader, to share with our rabbinical and cantorial students, and seminarians from other schools, the religious roots of his new “Poor People’s Campaign.” Now, through our new Hendel Center for Ethics and Justice, we are building on this foundation, formally weaving the study of Jewish ethics and training in civic engagement into our curriculum, and convening people of all faiths for study, dialogue, and collaboration toward creating a fairer, more ethical world.
Interfaith Dialogue and Tackling the Issues of the Day: Through the Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue and the Finkelstein Institute for Religious and Social Studies, JTS invites great thinkers and faith leaders to campus to wrestle with and shed light on contemporary religious and social issues. These events, open to the public, have recently included Sister Simone Campbell, a nun known for her activism around social justice; Joy Ladin, the author of a book about God and Torah from a transgender perspective; and a major conference on end-of-life care that was part of a city-wide initiative.
Places to Share Ideas: Thanks to its new conference facilities, the 21st Century Campus will facilitate our work promoting dialogue and collaboration—on ethics and justice, Jewish life and scholarship, major social issues, and more.
We are excited to welcome our neighbors into our new building. Its spaces are designed to foster a sense of community and the exchange of ideas. And our mission, within those spaces, is to continually bolster ethical learning, civic engagement, interfaith conversation, and the sacred work of bringing more justice into the world.