History

The Foundation for Jewish Studies was launched by Rabbi Joshua O. Haberman in 1983 with a generous anonymous gift. Part of that initial donation was spent commissioning a survey of the D.C. community’s need for Jewish learning programs, and developing programs to meet those demands. 

In 1985, the Foundation debuted its first program, the Lunch and Learn series. The Lunch and Learn series provided an opportunity for condensed study over the lunch hour. The Foundation also offered classes for Jewish interns on Capitol Hill. The Lunch and Learn Series became so successful that classes were expanded throughout the DC, Virginia, and Maryland communities, until so many congregations adopted the idea that we retired our lunchtime series in 2012.

In 1986, the Foundation began a Scholar-in-Residence program. We arranged for respected Jewish educators to temporarily live in the D.C. area and offer lectures and programs at local universities, synagogues, and other centers of Jewish learning. Our first Scholar was Professor Pinchas Peli of Ben Gurion University. Over the next 20 years, the Foundation hosted 29 Scholars-in-Residence including Israel prize winner Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz; Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, founder of Lincoln Square Synagogue in New York City; Dr. Stefan Reif from the University of Cambridge; and Dr. Nahum Sarna, a leading Bible scholar.

Through the 1980s and 1990s, the Foundation developed a variety of educational programs to meet the needs and demands of the Washington Jewish community, including Weekend Study Retreats and the Community Lecture Series. Among the most notable of these programs are the Travel/Study Seminars. These tours present opportunities to learn from recognized scholars while exploring sites of Jewish history and interest. International destinations have included England, Egypt, Spain, Portugal and the Caribbean, while local daytrips have brought us to Philadelphia, Richmond, Monticello, Baltimore, and more.

In 2007, the Foundation launched the Distinguished Scholar Series program. This series brings internationally renowned scholars to speak in the Greater Washington, D.C. area. The Foundation is proud to have hosted such well regarded scholars as: Susannah Heschel, Arthur Green, Robert Alter, Hasia Diner, Jodi Magness, Michael A. Meyer, Aviva Zornberg, Faye Moskowitz, James Kugel, and many others.

Other ongoing programs include our Community Events which bring local teachers and lecturers to study texts with smaller audiences, films with serious Jewish-related content, often followed by a "talk-back" with the film director or an academic authority on the topic, cultural events such as concerts and shows whose themes relate to our mission, and our beloved Bible Study Center which features year-long text study classes with local teacher Gideon Amir, and is housed in a local cultural treasure - The Dennis & Phillip Ratner Museum.

 

>The Foundation Today

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2200B Baltimore Road, Rockville, Maryland 20851 Phone: 301-770-4787 Email: info@foundjs.org