A total of 135 degrees were conferred at the 120th Commencement Exercises of The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) on May 22 in New York City. The distinguished graduates became the newest JTS cohort of professional and lay leaders to serve around the continent as rabbis, educators, cantors, scholars, and community leaders. MK Dr. Ruth Calderon delivered the Commencement address. Honorary doctoral degrees were awarded to MK Dr. Ruth Calderon, Rabbi David Ellenson, Dr. Stanley Fischer, and Mr. Philip Roth. Mr. Allan and Mrs. Muriel Greenblatt were inducted into the Society of Fellows.
Of the 117 graduates who were awarded degrees in this year's Commencement Exercises, 46 received bachelor's degrees from JTS's Albert A. List College of Jewish Studies; 31, including four who earned doctorates, received degrees from The Graduate School; 37 received degrees from the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education; six cantors were invested by the H. L. Miller Cantorial School and College of Jewish Music; and 14 men and women were ordained by The Rabbinical School. A total of 18 students each received multiple degrees from different JTS schools.
MK Dr. Ruth Calderon serves as deputy speaker of the Knesset, Israel's Parliament. She is also the founder and chair of the Knesset's lobby for Jewish renewal. MK Dr. Calderon cofounded Elul, the first pluralistic and egalitarian beit midrash in Israel, and founded ALMA Home for Hebrew Culture, a cultural and educational center; she was awarded the AVI CHAI Prize for her contributions to "creating a bridge between Jewish with different approaches to tradition." MK Dr. Calderon previously served as head of cultural and educational programs at the National Library of Israel, and is the author of A Bride for One Night: Talmud Tales, a personal retelling of talmudic legends. She received her PhD in Talmudic Literature from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and graduated from the first cohort of the Mandel School for Educational Leadership.
Rabbi David Ellenson is chancellor and past president of Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC). He has overseen tremendous growth in HUC's programs and campuses, and has engaged its faculty in interinstitutional initiatives such as the eLearning Faculty Fellowship partnership among JTS, HUC, and Yeshiva University. Rabbi Ellenson has been a distinguished scholar, teacher, and mentor for many years at HUC, where he was ordained; he received a PhD from Columbia University. His work After Emancipation: Jewish Religious Responses to Modernity won the 2005 Jewish Book Council Award in the category of Modern Jewish Thought and Experience; he was also nominated for awards from that organization in 1990 and was a finalist as coauthor in 2012.
Dr. Stanley Fischer serves as distinguished fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and has been confirmed as a member of the Federal Reserve Board. He previously was governor of the Bank of Israel. A renowned economic policymaker, he led the International Monetary Fund as first deputy managing director, the World Bank as vice president of development economics and chief economist, and Citigroup as vice chair. He has published extensively on economics. His career in academia includes having taught on and chaired the Economics faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as having taught as assistant professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, and in visiting positions at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. His former students include Ben Bernanke, retired chair of the Federal Reserve, and Mario Draghi, head of the European Central Bank.
Mr. Philip Roth is a renowned US author who produced 31 books in a decades-long career. A New York Times review of Portnoy's Complaint named it "the very novel that every American-Jewish writer has been trying to write in one guise or another since the end of World War II." Mr. Roth has been awarded a Pulitzer Prize; National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal by the White House; Gold Medal in Fiction, the top award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters; and the Man Booker International Prize. He has also won multiple times the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Mr. Roth received the Prince of Asturias Award of Literature from the Spanish Prince of Asturias Foundation, and the insignia of Commander of the Legion of Honor from the French government.
Mr. Allan and Mrs. Muriel Greenblatt are longtime supporters of JTS and members of its Tzaddikim Society, and have contributed to student scholarships at JTS. Mr. Greenblatt, now retired, was managing partner at America Capital, a securities brokerage firm in Jericho, New York, and president of Temple Israel of Great Neck in Great Neck, Long Island. He holds a BS from New York University. Mrs. Greenblatt has been a consultant to Chase Manhattan Bank, and active with many Jewish organizations in New York and in JTS events in Florida. She earned a BA in Economics from Queens College and an MA in Counseling from CW Post, Long Island University. In addition to being dedicated to JTS for many years, the Greenblatts are involved in UJA-Federation of New York, the University of Pennsylvania, the Palm Beach Opera, the Miami Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art.