The Teachers Institute 100th Anniversary

"The Teachers Institute (TI) was established in response to the problem of Jewish assimilation in America . . . By providing a model of an inclusive and integrated Jewish community, it suggested solutions to many of the ongoing challenges of American Jewish life."

— David Kaufman, "Jewish Education as a Civilization,"
Tradition Renewed: A History of The Jewish Theological Seminary

Photo Slideshow

Enjoy historic photos of the Teachers Institute from the 1920s to the 1950s.

See a video of Chancellor Arnold Eisen discussing the history of the Teachers Institute at the luncheon.

Anniversary Celebration Programming



October 7, 2009

Annual List College Young Alumni Division (YAD) Sukkah Dinner

This event attracted JTS alumni who heard from Chancellor Arnold M. Eisen and List College Dean Dr. Shuly Rubin Schwartz.

See photos from the event.

Watch Dr. Schwartz give her speech about the evolution of List College from the Teachers Institute.

December 13

Studio Performance and Artist Dialogue
sponsored by JTS and Barnard College

Israeli choreographer Renana Raz performed at Barnard College to pay homage to the legacy of art and expression cultivated by the Teachers Institute. Dr. Ofra Backenroth (DS '04) paid tribute to the memory of Devorah Lapson (z"l), TI faculty.

View the event flyer and event program.

March 7

Transforming American Jewish Life: A Celebration of the Teachers Institute's 100th Anniversary

Photos from the event:

Symposium sessions:

Watch a video of Dr. Isa Aron, daughter of Sylvia Ettenberg, discussing her mother's influence and legacy.

September 26

Celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the Rebecca and Israel Ivry Prozdor High School with a luncheon in the JTS sukkah.

Fall 2010

Public Lecture (Details to Be Announced)
March 2011 Celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of The Rebecca and Israel Ivry Prozdor High School with a community luncheon. Details to come.


The Teachers Institute (TI) opened in 1909 as the official teacher-training department of The Jewish Theological Seminary.

Funding was originally provided by Jacob Schiff and Louis Marshall. Mordecai Kaplan was the principal (1909–1931) and dean (1931–1946); Samuel Dinin was the registrar.

Open to interested men and women, the TI was one of the few institutions in the country where women could gain an advanced education in Jewish studies. As a result of this, and also because of the identification of teaching as a women's profession, the majority of students at the TI were women.

TI faculty later included the likes of Abraham Joshua Heschel and future JTS Chancellor, Gerson Cohen. All Teachers Institute classes were taught in Hebrew.

In 1930, the TI joined the rest of JTS, moving into the Unterberg Building, part of the campus's new group of buildings at 3080 Broadway in Morningside Heights.

The TI offered both undergraduate and graduate degrees, and participated in a joint degree program with Columbia University's Teachers College. In 1931, the Seminary College of Jewish Studies was established to supplement the Teachers Institute. It appealed to students who wanted college–level courses in Judaica but were not preparing for careers in Jewish education. In 1987, JTS's undergraduate division, became the Albert A. List College of Jewish Studies. With its roots in Jewish education, the legacy of Teachers Institute is seen in today's William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education.


The Teachers Institute became synonymous with the professionalization of Jewish education infused by modern pedagogical training. Concepts including Jewish feminism, Zionism, and the arts were developed from the professors, and those they taught, at Teachers Institute. Further, organizations and movements such as Camp Ramah, Ivry Prozdor High School, Reconstructionist Judaism, the New York Bureau of Jewish Education, and the modern congregational school education system all trace their origins to TI.

Past Leadership

Former Deans of the Teachers Institute

(Includes those who served as dean of the Seminary College of Jewish Studies, as well as today's Albert A. List College of Jewish Studies and the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education.)

Rabbi Joseph Brodie
Dr. Steven Brown
Israel Chipkin (z"l)
Dr. Aryeh Davidson
Dr. Sylvia Ettenberg
Dr. Seymour Fox (z"l)
Judah Goldin (z"l)
Dr. David Gordis
Dr. Judith Hauptman
Dr. Barry Holtz
Dr. Paula Hyman
Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan (z"l)
Morton Leifman
Dr. Anne Lapidus Lerner
Dr. Louis Levitsky (z"l)
Dr. Ivan Marcus
Rabbi Mayer Rabinowitz
Rabbi Joel Roth
Dr. Shuly Rubin Schwartz

Former Leaders of the Alumni Association

Ruth Segal Bernards
Dr. Henry Cohen
Bernice Pohl Feldman
Judith B. Fellner
Leslie Slavitt Goldress
Miryom Kass
Rabbi Paul Kushner
Dr. Ruth Samson Lefkowitz (z"l)
Rebekah Kohn Mosenkis
Ruth Musnikow
Selma Rosen
Leonard Wasserman
Rahel Ginsburg Weisfuse
Joyce Weissman
Bernard Widger (z"l)

Alumni Testimonials

Watch videos of Channa Simckes (TI '60) and Joyce Weissman (SC '58) talk about their student experiences at The Jewish Theological Seminary.

A Tribute to My Teachers at The Seminary College of JTS
by Menorah Lebowitz Rotenberg (SC '59)

It was a great privilege to have what I can only call an "Honor Roll" of teachers while I was at JTS. It made those years not only memorable but transformative as well. It also made a double degree, a BA from Barnard and a separate BHL from Seminary College possible. I never regretted the nights and long Sunday afternoons that I spent learning and learning some more.

I came to The Jewish Theological Seminary from Ramaz, an Orthodox day school in Manhattan, where I developed some tools of learning in Judaica. I left JTS as a sophisticated reader of Judaic texts. I became attuned to context and the role that history played in the long line of Jewish history. My teachers taught me the values of scholarship and close reading of texts that I have transmitted to my children and, if lucky, may get to share with my grandchildren as well. Theirs was a greatness of heart as well as mind, and they shared a passion for their subjects as well as Judaism itself.

Help us build our TI alumni database. Complete our Alumni Contact Form or email our Alumni Director Melissa Friedman.