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First Pittsburgh cohort graduates from MAJPS program

First Pittsburgh cohort graduates from MAJPS program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — October 7, 2013

For more information contact:   

Brian Zimmerman
bzimmerman@spertus.edu | 312.322.1724
or
Betsy Gomberg 
bgomberg@spertus.edu | 312.322.1756 

First Pittsburgh cohort of SPERTUS INSTITUTE’s innovative
Master of Arts in Jewish Professional Studies program
graduated October 7, 2013.

Honorary Doctoral degrees were awarded to
JOHN S. RUSKAY and DAVID S. SHAPIRA
for their contributions to the Jewish community.

(PITTSBURGH) Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership graduated of the first Pittsburgh cohort of its pioneering Master of Arts in Jewish Professional Studies (MAJPS) program on Monday, October 7, 2013. 

The ceremony took place at 7 pm at Congregation Rodef Shalom, 4905 Fifth Avenue in Pittsburgh. Spertus awarded the Master of Arts in Jewish Professional Studies degree to Carly Adelmann, Adam Joseph Baron, Jacqueline Ellean Braslawsce, Joshua Donner, Deborah Fidel, David Samuel Katz, Johanna Kitman, Susan Rosenberg Linzer, Alexander David Speck, and Aaron Weil, all Jewish communal professionals who have completed a rigorous program designed to develop their Jewish knowledge and prepare them to lead Jewish organizations.

Building on Spertus Institute’s expertise, the Master of Arts in Jewish Professional Studies program was launched in 2007 to meet the needs of those working in the diverse organizations that serve and inform the Jewish community. The two-year-long program provides a platform of classical and contemporary Jewish thought combined with much-needed professional training based in the best practices of nonprofit management. Presented in a cohort model, the program creates a dynamic environment for professionals to learn from one another along with a mentoring component that pairs students with leaders in their field. Piloted in Spertus Institute’s hometown of Chicago, the program now serves communities in several North American cities. In Pittsburgh, the program is a partnership of Spertus Institute, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, and the Agency for Jewish Learning.

During the commencement, Spertus granted honorary doctoral degrees to John S. Ruskay and David S. Shapira. Dr. Ruskay, retiring Executive Vice President and CEO of UJA-Federation of New York, and Mr. Shapira, a philanthropist and innovator who served as Chairman and CEO of Giant Eagle, are outstanding examples of Jewish professional and lay leadership. Through their lives and work they demonstrate the core belief that underpins the educational programming of Spertus Institute — that learning and leadership are critical to the vibrancy and future of Jewish communities, both at the local level and across the globe. It is an honor for Spertus to have been able to recognize their contributions and share their visions with those who graduated from the Spertus program in Pittsburgh.

John S. Ruskay, PhD, was awarded a Doctor of Hebrew Letters Honoris Causa. Dr. Ruskay has been involved in Jewish professional work throughout his career, working to transform the Jewish community for the 21st century. He has worked at UJA-Federation since 1993. Before that, he served as a senior consultant to the Wexner Foundation and the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies. He chaired the Publication Committee of the Journal of Jewish Communal Service and the Professional Advisory Committee of the Brandeis University Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program and served as Educational Director of the 92nd Street Y and Vice Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. He is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and Columbia University. Dr. Ruskay received an honorary degree from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2012 and will be receiving an honorary degree from Hebrew Union College in December 2013.

David S. Shapira was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters Honoris Causa. Mr. Shapira served as Chairman of Giant Eagle, Inc. from 1992 to 2011, topping a trajectory that began when he joined Giant Eagle in 1971 as Vice President of Store Operations. A catalyst for communal change and growth, he has spearheaded numerous initiatives in his home community in Pittsburgh and across the world, providing visionary leadership to organizations within and beyond the Jewish community. He serves as Vice Chairman of the board for both Carnegie Mellon University and The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, and also serves on other boards in the business, education, and arts sectors, including the United Way of Allegheny County, the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh, Jewish Healthcare Foundation, Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, Pittsburgh Symphony, and Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. He is a graduate of Oberlin College and Stanford University.

Spertus President and CEO Dr. Hal M. Lewis said that Dr. Ruskay and Mr. Shapira are “two of American Jewry’s very best. John Ruskay is a scholar and a practitioner who has enhanced Jewish life in America throughout his illustrious career. David Shapira is a volunteer and philanthropist whose generosity of spirit and of treasure is second to none, a man whose love of Judaism and the Jewish people knows no bounds. They deserve our recognition for their thoughtful, selfless, and ongoing efforts to build a strong and sustainable Jewish community.”

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ABOUT SPERTUS INSTITUTE
Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership offers dynamic learning opportunities, rooted in Jewish wisdom and culture and open to all. Graduate programs and workshops train future leaders and engage individuals in exploration of Jewish life, in Chicago and in select cities across North America. Public programs — including films, speakers, seminars, and concerts — take place at the Institute's Michigan Avenue facility, in the Chicago suburbs, and online. For more information, please visit spertus.edu.           

Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership is a partner in serving our community, supported by the JUF/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago. Funding for the Pittsburgh MAJPS program is provided by Spertus Institute, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, the Agency for Jewish Learning, the Fine Family Foundation, Hillel JCC of Pittsburgh, the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, and the Pittsburgh Area Jewish Committee.

John RuskayJohn Ruskay, PhD

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David S. ShapiraDavid S. Shapira

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2013 Graduates2013 Graduates

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Jeffrey Finkelstein, David Shapira, John RuskayJeffrey Finkelstein, David Shapira, John Ruskay

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John Ruskay delivers acceptance speechJohn Ruskay delivers acceptance speech

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Hal Lewis and John RuskayHal Lewis and John Ruskay

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Hal Lewis awards John RuskayHal Lewis awards John Ruskay

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