April 08, 2009

Jewish Studies Program Launched To Promote Inter-religious Tolerance and Understanding

Ganz and EzraStudents at Sonoma State University are now able to earn a minor degree in Jewish Studies thanks to a new donor-funded program.

Executive Director Dr. Michael Ezra leads the endeavor, which creates a vital outlet for students looking to understand the diverse 21st-century world. Ezra is a Professor of American Multicultural Studies.

The Jewish Studies Program provides Sonoma State University an important first step toward integrating religion more fully into its curriculum, Ezra says.

"You cannot understand the history of the world and its future without taking religion into account," he says. "Launching the Jewish Studies Program gives the University a chance to begin training students to do so."

Response to the Jewish Studies Program has been overwhelmingly positive. Ezra has involved many other departments around campus in this endeavor. These partnerships reflect the interdisciplinary nature of Jewish Studies.

Jewish and non-Jewish students from diverse backgrounds have flocked to the minor. They reflect the program's mission of using Jewish education as a means to foster inter-religious cooperation, tolerance, and understanding.

Thanks to the fundraising efforts of founder and local philanthropist Claude Ganz, a Holocaust survivor and former presidential envoy to Bosnia during the Clinton Administration, the program has raised enough financial support to offer classes through 2011.

There are efforts underway to seek more donors in order to permanently endow the program.

For questions about the Jewish Studies minor, contact Professor Michael Ezra at (707) 664-3293 or ezra@sonoma.edu.

ABOVE, Claude Ganz and Professor Michael Ezra discuss plans for future Jewish Studies curriculum offerings.

Jean Wasp
Media Relations Coordinator
University Affairs
(707) 664-2057