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The campaign for Jewish life

Rabbi Seth Goren was instrumental in strengthening Lehigh's Jewish Life program during his tenure as director.

Lehigh University’s Jewish Life program has successfully completed a $2 million campaign that will fully sustain its interfaith programs at the University.

Thanks to the generosity of former Trustee Nancy Berman ‘97H and her husband Alan Bloch ‘14GP, Lehigh established the position of Director of Jewish Life in 2007 and launched a campaign to sustain Jewish life programs for the long term.

Since the campaign’s inception, more than $2 million in gifts and pledges have been raised toward endowments and operating funds that enable innovative programs including interfaith trips to Israel, new opportunities for community service tied to Jewish values, the launch of many Jewish social groups and inter-faith spirituality programs, and traditional Hillel programs including Shabbat services and dinners, community Seders, and High Holiday services. Most significantly, the campaign created an endowment to sustain the director’s position.

“Five years ago, we were told that a campaign to endow a full-time director was too bold and beyond the reach of even the most elite universities,” said Berman. “Today, we reflect with gratitude on the many individuals and foundations who joined Lehigh in making the full-time director's position a reality to ensure there will be the vital presence of Jewish leadership for generations at Lehigh. This is a historic accomplishment, and Alan and I are thrilled about this milestone being achieved.”

Rabbi Seth Goren, who has recently joined the nonprofit Repair the World, was the first director, having joined Lehigh in June 2008.

“Rabbi Goren has left Lehigh stronger than when he arrived,” Berman said. “His successor will be able to build on his many achievements and take the programs to new heights.”

The Jewish Life program developed rapidly in its six years on campus, garnering accolades from Hillel’s Schusterman International Center and the inclusion of Lehigh as one of the top schools in the “Insider’s Guide to College Life” in Reform Judaism Magazine in 2013. Since its inception, the program has expanded from traditional Hillel programs to interfaith and co-curricular initiatives to break barriers that compartmentalize cultural and religious identity into limited times and places.

“One of the highest aspirations of any great university is the promotion of mutual respect and understanding,” said Patrick Farrell, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. “With the successful completion of this campaign, the Jewish Life program will continue to support the needs of students, faculty and staff of Jewish and non-Jewish affiliations at Lehigh, and continue to be a foundation for a diverse, multi-voiced campus.”

For more information on the Campaign for Jewish Life at Lehigh, visit www. http://jewishlife.lehigh.edu/ or contact Rochelle Goodman at Rochelle.Goodman@lehigh.edu.

Story by Jordan Reese

Posted on Wednesday, August 21, 2013

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