The Leonard and Helen Stulman Jewish Studies Program is being launched with a $5 million gift from the Leonard and Helen R. Stulman Charitable Foundation Inc. of Baltimore.
Shale D. Stiller, president of the Stulman Foundation, called the gift to Johns Hopkins "a signal commitment from the foundation," which generally makes more modest grants focused on Jewish issues, health care, mental health, higher education and aging. "This is probably the largest single gift for Jewish education that has ever been made in Baltimore. The Stulman Foundation is particularly pleased to provide the impetus for this new program at Johns Hopkins at a time when the university is also making a commitment to encourage the development of various aspects of Jewish student life on the Homewood campus," Stiller said.
The Stulman Jewish Studies Program builds on a strong interdisciplinary foundation of courses and faculty experts at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, according to William R. Brody, university president. "We are deeply appreciative of this gift," he said. "It will enable us to strengthen and formalize this important area of scholarship, focusing on Jewish history and the study of Judaism."
The gift will support the creation of new course offerings, graduate and undergraduate fellowships, public lectures, enhanced library resources and opportunities for collective and individual scholarship involving faculty from many different departments, as well as distinguished visiting scholars.
Appointed as director was David Nirenberg, the Charlotte Bloomberg Professor of Humanities, a historian whose research focuses on relations between Christians, Jews and Muslims in the Middle Ages.
"This gift allows us to coordinate and expand our existing strengths in Jewish studies," Nirenberg said. "It provides us with a strong foundation upon which to build a world-class program."
As a goal, Nirenberg said he envisions a program that covers the broad spectrum of Jewish culture, from Hebrew Bible and biblical archaeology, through rabbinic thought and spirituality, to modern literature and contemporary Israeli politics.
The Stulman Jewish Studies Program will involve Krieger School faculty appointed to two recently created endowed professorships related to Jewish studies: the Felix Posen Professorship in Modern European Jewish History, endowed last year by London businessman and Johns Hopkins alumnus Posen, and the Blum-Iwry Professorship in Near Eastern Jewish Studies, made possible by a commitment in 1999 from the family of Baltimore alumnus Alvin Blum and his wife, Mildred G. Blum, honoring them and also biblical scholar and retired Johns Hopkins professor Samuel Iwry and his wife, Nina Rochman Iwry.
In addition, three visiting professorships in Jewish studies have recently been created to bring distinguished scholars from other universities to the Krieger School for one-year appointments: one by Chicago-area alumnus Eugene Zemsky and his wife, Delores; one by the Charles Crane Family Foundation of Baltimore, of which Stiller is also president; and one by Philip Meyers of New Orleans.
The Stulman Foundation was established by Leonard Stulman, a Baltimore businessman and philanthropist, who died in 2000. In addition to Shale D. Stiller, the other trustees of the foundation are Frank T. Gray and Walter D. Pinkard Jr. During Stulman's lifetime, he and his wife, Helen, made generous gifts to the Jewish community, the arts, music, theater and to Johns Hopkins, where they endowed the Leonard and Helen R. Stulman Professorship in History, a lecture series in history and fellowships in the humanities.
The Stulman Jewish Studies Program at Hopkins will formally begin Nov. 12 with the inauguration address given by Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, the Salo Wittmayer Baron Professor of Jewish History, Culture and Society at Columbia University and a leading Jewish studies scholar.