American Jewish University: Wikis


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American Jewish University
American Jewish University
Motto The American Jewish University of Tomorrow
Established 1947
Type Private
President Robert Wexler
Location Bel-Air, Los Angeles, California, USA
Campus Urban

The American Jewish University, formerly the separate institutions University of Judaism and Brandeis-Bardin Institute, is a Jewish, non-denominational and highly eclectic institution. Its largest component is its Whizin Center for Continuing Education in which 12,000 students are enrolled annually in non-credit granting courses. A prominent program of the Center is the university's annual speaker series, featuring luminaries like Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Colin Powell, and other political and diplomatic leaders. AJU's academic division includes the College of Arts and Sciences, leading to a B.A. degree in majors such as Bioethics (pre-med), Business, Communication Arts & Advocacy, Jewish Studies, Political Science and Psychology. In addition, AJU offers graduate degrees through the Fingerhut School of Education, The David L. Lieber Graduate School, and the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, a Conservative Jewish rabbinical seminary. AJU is host to two "think tanks," the Center for Israel Studies (CIS) and the Sigi Ziering Institute: Exploring the Ethical and Religious Implications of the Holocaust. Through the Brandeis-Bardin Institute, the University has oversight over Camps Ramah, Alonim, and Gan Alonim.



The University of Judaism was founded in 1947. The spiritual founder was Dr. Mordecai Kaplan, a Jewish thinker and philosopher whose goal was to create an institution representing the diversity of Judaic expression in the United States. Initially a project of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City and the Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Los Angeles, the UJ became an independent institution in the 1970s. It became officially non-demoninational with the ascension to the presidency of Dr. Robert Wexler in 1992. Dr. Wexler was preceded in the presidency by Dr. Simon Greenberg (1947-1963) and Dr. David Lieber (1963-1992).

In March 2007, officials from both the University of Judaism and the Brandeis-Bardin Institute, an education and camping organization in Simi Valley, announced the two parties would merge into a new organization called the American Jewish University with UJ President Dr. Robert Wexler at the helm.[1]

Campus resources and facilities

The American Jewish University is home to the Ostrow Library, which boasts over 120,000 volumes, extensive electronic resources, and contains one of the West Coast's largest collections of Judaica. The campus also includes the Gindi Auditorium, a 475 seat theatre featuring many concerts, celebrations, and other programs. The campus also includes dormitories and a recently completed student union with fitness facilities, a basketball court, and grass field. The Marjorie and Herman Platt Gallery and Borstein Art Gallery play host to many major exhibitions, both of Jewish and non-Jewish art. Past artists at the Platt Gallery have included David Hockney, Jim Dine and Frank Stella as well as works by the Gallery's donor, Herman Platt. The Smalley Sculpture Garden on the campus grounds has a collection that includes the work of well-known contemporary sculptors. Dedicated in 1981, the sculptures include works by Beverly Pepper, Sol LeWitt, George Rickey, Jenny Holzer, Anthony Caro and George Rickey.

The Max and Pauline Zimmer Conference Center is a 96 acre (388,000 m²) campus in Ojai, California. It is home to Camp Ramah in California.

Undergraduate study


The College of Arts and Sciences

American Jewish University, Bel Air

The College of Arts and Sciences is the program of undergraduate study at AJU. The College has one of the lowest student-to-faculty ratios in the country, 7:1. Class size is small, averaging fewer than 20 students per course.

The academic program itself at the College grants the Bachelor of Arts degree. The core curriculum consists of over half the required credits during a student's time at the College, and consists of the study of Western, non-Western, and Jewish civilizations, foreign language studies, arts, science, math, and computer study. Several academic majors and minors are offered including:

Bioethics, Business, English and Literature, Jewish Studies, Journalism, Liberal Studies, Literature and Politics, Political Science, Behavioral Sciences (Psychology), and U.S. Public Policy

The College also permits students to design their own majors, minors, and individualized programs of study in consultation with their academic advisor. The College encourages students to take leadership roles both on campus and in social, political, and religious work in the greater Los Angeles area.

Graduates of this program have gone on to earn advanced degrees at institutions such as Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, UCLA, and Georgetown.

Student life

The American Jewish University is home to an active student life. Students are encouraged to participate in student organizations in order to enrich their undergraduate experience. If a student determines that an organization they might be interested in is not yet established, students are welcome to establish new clubs and receive funding based upon student support and need.

Current student organizations include: the ASAJU (Student Government), Bio-Ethics Association, Casiano Chronicle (Student Newspaper), Cymbals, Hillel, Honor Society, Israel Action, NASHIR/AJU Choir, Political Science Association, Peer Mentoring Program, Psychology Association, Sports Club, and Tikkun Olam (Social Action).

Graduate study

The Lieber School of Graduate Studies

The Lieber School of Graduate Studies offers programs in Nonprofit Management and Jewish Communal Studies. Students may earn a Master of Business Administration degree in Nonprofit Management, or students who have already earned a Master of Arts degree in some other field may earn an M.A. in Nonprofit Management. The Lieber School also offers an M.A. in Jewish Communal Studies, which consists of studies of management skills as well as Jewish texts, history, and sociology.

The M.B.A. can be combined with the M.A. in Jewish Communal Studies and the other graduate degrees (see below).

Graduates of this program take leadership positions in the management of a variety of non-profit organizations.

The Fingerhut School of Education

The Fingerhut School of Education offers a Master of Arts in Education degree, in which students can choose to focus on Administration, Curriculum and Instruction, or Jewish Educational Foundations. The Fingerhut School of Education also offers a M.A.Ed. focusing on Experiential Jewish Education. Students in the M.A.Ed. program are also awarded a degree of Bachelor of Literature (B.Lit) in Hebrew Letters, focusing on Bible, Rabbinic Literature, Hebrew, or Jewish Philosophy. In addition, the School offers the Master of Arts in Teaching degree which may be pursued on a part time basis.

The Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies

In addition to Rabbinic ordination recognized by the Rabbinical Assembly of Conservative Judaism, the Ziegler School offers programs culminating in the awarding of a Master of Arts in Rabbinic Studies. This degree may be combined with the M.A.Ed. or M.B.A. programs.

Continuing education

AJU offers many programs of study through its Whizin Center for Continuing Education. These studies most often take the form of individual classes generally taken simply for personal enjoyment and edification. Classes are offered in language studies, Jewish studies, literature, fine arts, dance and fitness, performance arts, and other varied areas. One of its largest programs is the annual Public Lecture Series held at Universal Studios' Gibson Amphitheater and is attended by five to six thousand series ticket holders. Featured speakers have included President Bill Clinton, Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright and Colin Powell, as well as Israeli Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Shimon Peres.


Faculty and staff

This is not an exhaustive list.

  • Robert Wexler (rabbi), Ph.D. (President)
  • David Lieber, D.H.L. (President Emeritus)
  • Mark Bookman, J.D. (Senior Vice President and COO)
  • Bradley Shavit Artson (Vice President and Dean of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies)
  • Gady Levy, Ed.D. (Vice President and Dean of the Whizin Center for Continuing Education)
  • Jay Strear (Vice President for Development)
  • Zofia Yalovsky (Vice President for Business, Administration and Technology)
  • Iris Waskow (Senior Director of Communications)
  • Nina Lieberman (Dean of the School of Management)
  • Paula Stern, Ph.D. (Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences)
  • Rami Wernik (Dean of the Fingerhut School of Education)
  • Elliot Dorff, Ph.D. (Rector and Distinguished Professor of Jewish Philosophy)
  • Ziony Zevit, Ph.D. (Distinguished Professor of Bible and Northwest Semitics)
  • Ron Wolfson, Ph.D. (Professor of Education)
  • Aryeh Cohen, Ph.D. (Associate Professor of Rabbinic Literature)
  • Gail Labovitz, Ph.D. (Chair and Assistant Professor of Rabbinic Literature)
  • Reb Mimi Feigelson (Mashpia Ruchanit)
  • Kate Griffin (Director of Student Affairs)


  1. ^ 2 Jewish educational institutes are merging, Los Angeles Times, March 22, 2007.

External links

Coordinates: 34°07′40.18″N 118°28′17.95″W / 34.1278278°N 118.4716528°W / 34.1278278; -118.4716528


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