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Centre for Jewish Studies gets $18 million endowment

Centre renamed Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies following fundraising campaign
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Dignitaries at the centre’s launch event. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE OFFICE OF ADVANCEMENT
Dignitaries at the centre’s launch event. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE OFFICE OF ADVANCEMENT

The Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies (CJS) officially opened on Monday, November 17, following a campaign led by Ken and Larry Tanenbaum, grandson and son of famous philanthropist Anne Tanenbaum.

The community campaign raised approximately $18 million.

Jeffrey Kopstein, director of the newly endowed centre, expressed his gratitude to the university and donor community at last Monday’s launch event. “The study of Jewish civilisation is a natural part of what we do at the University of Toronto, and must therefore be integrated across the university since it is too important not to be. I can’t tell you how gratifying it is to know that the university and the community both support the vision,” said Kopstein. 

Kopstein cited the importance of integrating Jewish Studies across the university and creating a seat of Jewish learning on a global level as the reasoning behind the enthusiasm for the community campaign. “It’s something that would benefit not only the students of U of T but, of course, the wider community,” Kopstein said.

Ken Tanenbaum led the campaign in contacting and speaking to major donors in Toronto, both Jewish and non-Jewish. 

David Cameron, dean of the Faculty of Arts & Science, and U of T president Meric Gertler both attended the launch event. 

The generosity of donors was acknowledged with a new wall that features the names of those who have given at least $50,000 in support of Jewish studies at the university.

Cameron highlighted the importance of the centre to the university community. “Tonight, we mark the successful completion of a major philanthropic endeavour to foster education and research in Jewish studies,” he said.

Gertler echoed Cameron’s sentiment, saying that the university was on its way to establishing the CJS as one of the world’s “leading forums” for Jewish studies.

Ken Tanenbaum, co-chair of the campaign, said the centre would accomplish numerous goals. “It’s about further integration and conversation among the humanities to build understanding across faiths and cultures that are representative of Canada,” he said.

Kopstein said original research would play a large role in the centre’s work. “What makes a great university is that we don’t just teach other people’s work, we actually are involved in inventing the knowledge that we impart. So I’d really like to back original research… to support our faculty members in their research, and to support graduate students.”