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Jewish Foundation Approves Grant of $27,000 to Jewish Federation for Comprehensive study Re Growing Judaics Program at University of Manitoba

by Rhonda Spivak November 6, 2013

The Jewish Foundation of Manitoba  recently authorized a grant to the Jewish Federation  of  $27,000 to conduct a comprehensive study to see if the Judaics program at  university of Manitoba could be grown and marketed both within the Jewish community and also to non-Jews.  The study will consider what types of courses are offered at other programs and will attempt to identify courses that would appeal to both Jewish and non-Jewish students.   

With that in mind, the Winnipeg Jewish Review recently interviewed a founder and former director of a Jewish Studies program from the United States who founded this program in a large city where there is a Jewish population of about 20,0000. There are about 35000 students at this U.S. University, with some 800 Jewish students. [ Editori's note:The model used in this U.S. community could arguably serve as a model for our community]
The founder told us that in this city, few students major or minor in Jewish Studies.  Students enroll in courses in various departments, such as history, political science, religion, etc. that offer courses that are also included in the Jewish Studies major.  The courses and the faculty members who teach them are under the jurisdiction of their respective departments, not Jewish Studies, which is a program.  The program small but is stable. A community donor funded an endowed chair for the director of the program. The Jewish Studies Program offers several scholarships and grants, all funded by private donors, and the funds are widely advertised.  There is both a major and minor in Jewish Studies.
The founder of the program also said that the Jewish Studies program wants to attract many non-Jews to the program. They do not did not want the program to be labeled an ethnic program that appeals to students of that ethnicity. Also it is felt that courses, such as, Jewish history courses, help to remove stereotypes and myths about Jews.  (Additionally if they were to rely on Jewish students alone, who number less than 800 in a student body of about 35,000, there would not be program.)
In this American city, The Holocaust, which is offered by the history department, is the most popular of the Jewish Studies courses.  It enrolls at least 50 students and the students are not Jewish.  Additionally, with funding that the Jewish studies program raised there, that program instituted Jewish Studies travel courses for students, and a course on the Holocaust  was conducted in Germany and Poland.  


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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.