Graduate Theological Union

Jewish Studies Students to Visit Poland

For more than 40 years, GTU’s Center for Jewish Studies (CJS) has offered outstanding academic programs committed to interreligious conversation, and has served as a vital center for Jewish life in the Bay Area, hosting scholarly lectures, films, conferences, and Jewish holiday celebrations that are open to the public.

Thanks to a three-year $900,000 grant made in 2008, by both the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life and Culture and the Koret Foundation, CJS continues to offer robust academic and community programs.

This July, six GTU students interested in East European Jewish heritage will each develop and research a topic in Poland, where an estimated 30,000 Jews live, compared with 3.3 million in 1939. The research/seminar trip is sponsored and made possible by the Taube Foundation.

To prepare for the trip, students will spend the spring semester studying Polish-Jewish history from its origins through the contemporary revival of Jewish culture, and developing methodologies for the analysis of heritage tourism and culture festivals.

 Concert Jewish Culture Festival Krakow

 Concert, Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow

Accompanied by CJS Director and Koret Professor of Jewish Culture Naomi Seidman and Visiting Scholar Shana Penn, students will visit Warsaw and Krakow, touring institutions, meeting with activists and scholars, and participating in Krakow’s Jewish Culture Festival — an annual grassroots event run mostly by young non-Jewish Poles to keep Jewish history alive.

“The Festival is one of the most exciting cultural phenomena the contemporary Jewish world has to offer,” says Seidman. “The trip will introduce our students to rich cultural activism, bring academic research to the grassroots efforts already illuminating Polish Jewry, and enrich our program and curricular offerings with a collaborative, real-world approach to Jewish Studies.”

Tad Taube, chairman of the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life and Culture, praised the seminar in a letter to Seidman as a “unique Jewish Studies experience” in which students will “recognize the significance of their searching out the cultural web of Jewish life and culture in Poland, as they also fulfill their academic pursuits.”

We say Bon Voyage! and eagerly await the rich store of knowledge and experience the returning students will bring back to the GTU.