JTS Establishes the Benjamin Botwinick Award and Fellowship Program

Nationally Known Educator and Two JTS Students to Be Honored

Press Contact: Eve Glasberg
Office: (212) 678-8089
Email: evglasberg@jtsa.edu

November 3, 2010, New York, NY

The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) will present the inaugural Benjamin Botwinick Award to Michael Brooks, executive director of the University of Michigan Hillel, in a ceremony that will be held at JTS on November 18, 2010, at 6:00 p.m.

Thanks to the generosity of the Botwinick-Wolfensohn Foundation, JTS is establishing the Benjamin Botwinick Award and Fellowship Program to continue and honor the vision of interdenominational understanding and commitment within Judaism that was central to the life of Benjamin Botwinick (z”l)(1906–2000). A successful businessman and philanthropist, he became increasingly concerned about the divisions and conflicts within the Jewish community, especially between religious denominations. “If only I were a young man, I would dedicate my life’s work to furthering Jewish pluralism,” he once said. He was the father of Elaine Wolfensohn, who serves on the advisory board of JTS’s William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education.

Mr. Brooks was selected by a nominating committee in recognition of his leadership and commitment to furthering interdenominational understanding and cooperation within Judaism. Arnold M. Eisen, chancellor of JTS, will present the award to Mr. Brooks in the Women’s League Seminary Synagogue.

In addition to leading the University of Michigan Hillel, Mr. Brooks lectures and consults for Jewish federations, Jewish Community Centers, and synagogues throughout the United States on strengthening and stretching the boundaries of the Jewish community.

A graduate of Brandeis University and Harvard University, Mr. Brooks is also a founding member of the Havurat Shalom community in Boston. He continued his training at the Hebrew University and Merkaz Ha-Rav Kook in Jerusalem and at the University of Michigan, where he served for many years as a lecturer in the program on Studies in Religion. He has also served on the faculties of Brandeis-Bardin Collegiate Institute and the Wexner Graduate Fellowship Summer Institute. In 1997, he received the Covenant Award in recognition of his work as one of the country’s outstanding Jewish educators.

The Botwinick Award will be bestowed biennially at JTS. The Botwinick Fellowships will be awarded to two JTS students pursuing graduate degrees in Jewish education. The first Botwinick fellows are Ariel Scheer, of Washington DC, and Jacob Komisar, of New Haven, Connecticut, both of whom are students at The Davidson School doing research in the field of Jewish pluralism. The two will have the opportunity to take part in a mentoring relationship with Mr. Brooks.

The presentation and award ceremony will be followed by a reception. The program is free and open to the public, but reservations are suggested. To RSVP, please contact Amelia Pardieu at (212) 280-6030 or ampardieu@jtsa.edu.