The Mandel Foundation has spearheaded many important initiatives at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, whose Mount Scopus campus is home to the Mandel Institute of Jewish Studies and the Scholion Interdisciplinary Research Center in Jewish Studies.  As a result of recent transformative Mandel Foundation grants,  these rich intellectual resources are being enhanced by the establishment of The Jack, Joseph and MortonMandelSchool for Advanced Studies in the Humanities.

A philanthropic contribution of $18 million is funding the construction of a spacious building that will house the Mandel School of Advanced Studies in the Humanities. The main entrance of this beautiful 43,000 square foot building will be accessed through the university’s verdant Botanical Gardens.  An annual grant of $ 2.5 million will provide continuity of support for elite interdisciplinary programs at the MandelSchool.

On June ll, 2012, during The Hebrew University’s International Board of Governors meeting, an inspiring groundbreaking ceremony was held on Mount Scopus, proximate to the Yitzhak Rabin Building, which houses the Mandel-initiated Scholion Interdisciplinary Research Center.  Barbara and Morton Mandel participated in the ceremony, as did Professor Menahem Ben-Sasson, President of The Hebrew University, and Nir Barkat, the Mayor of Jerusalem.

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Professor Jehuda Reinharz, President of the world-wide Mandel Foundation, and former President of Brandeis University, reflected on the meaning of the occasion.  “Exactly 110 years ago a brochure was published by Martin Buber, Berthold Feiwel and Chaim Weizmann, called ‘A Jewish University in Jerusalem.’ When HebrewUniversity opened in 1925, one of its three initial institutes was Judaic Studies, anchored in the broader humanistic tradition. At the groundbreaking this past June, looking out over the magnificent views of the Judean desert, I could not but marvel at what the Jewish people and citizens of the State of Israel have created. The MandelSchool for Advanced Studies in the Humanities will be a wonderful new chapter in this glorious tradition.”

“Our investment in the humanities at The Hebrew University is an investment in the future of Israel and the Jewish people,” stated Morton Mandel, Chairman and CEO of the Mandel Foundation. “The humanities classroom is where ancient meets modern, history touches modernity, and new ideas and ways of thinking are born.”

Professor Menahem Ben-Sasson lauded the impact of Mandel Foundation philanthropy on higher education: “This gift is transformative and signifies a major step toward the restoration of the humanities to their rightful place within higher education.  Perhaps more than any other field of study, the humanities stress creativity, critical thinking and honest deliberation. For centuries the humanities have formed the foundation of a well-rounded education.”

In recent years, humanities studies in Israel have been on the decline due to  funding cutbacks and increased specialization, especially in the realms of research and graduate studies.  To address these issues—which affect both academia and the broader society–The Mandel School will provide scholarship support for graduate students and foster collaborative, interdisciplinary work. One aim is to encourage cross-fertilization between Jewish Studies and the fields of History, Philosophy, the Arts, Language Sciences and Literature; another is to fulfill Hebrew University’s mandate to produce new generations of leaders, educators and scholars.

Professor Reinharz praised the Mandel School’s structure and the talent it draws upon. “Two hundred outstanding professors, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students will be gathered from across the university’s humanities departments and research institutes, establishing a unique place where a critical mass of leading scholars will form a world‐class scholarly community. A comprehensive program of lectures, colloquia, workshops and opportunities for informal consultation will be offered, creating a hothouse for new ideas and cutting-edge scholarship.”

The Mandel Foundation was established by the brothers Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel of Cleveland, Ohio, in 1953.  The highly successful businessmen created a philanthropic entity whose mission is to contribute to the development of the United States and Israel as socially just and democratic societies and to enhance the vitality of Jewish life in all its diversity.  The Foundation trains leaders and funds initiatives in non‐profit management, Jewish education, urban revitalization and higher education.

Barbara Mandel, a distinguished leader and advocate for Israel and higher education, worked with her husband Morton, the Mandel Foundation, Hebrew University and AFHU to propel this project forward.  An Honorary President of AFHU and member of the national board, Barbara Mandel received an Honorary Doctorate from Hebrew University (1996), and serves as chair of the university’s International Campaign.  Barbara and Morton Mandel, who received an Honorary Doctorate from Hebrew University in 1993, are members of Hebrew University’s International Board of Governors. Their profound dedication has contributed to the university’s stature as a top-100 research and teaching institution worldwide and as a model for higher education.

“The Mandel Foundation is deeply committed to the principle that vibrant democratic institutions require citizens and leaders who are steeped in the great intellectual traditions,” said Professor Reinharz. “The humanities and Jewish studies are vital reservoirs of knowledge, values and wisdom—they have the potential to shape our notions of the good society and guide our personal and collective choices.”