Center for Jewish Studies


Jewish Studies and Jewish Life at the Univesity at AlbanyJewish studies and Jewish life at the University at Albany encompass a variety of social, cultural, religious and educational facets, all designed to involve the campus population in the life of the mind and the life of the spirit.

The Department of Judaic Studies boasts an outstanding and multi-talented faculty, which offers courses in both Judaic and Hebrew studies.

In 2001, the University announced the creation of a Center for Jewish Studies that will eventually establish Albany as the focal point of Jewish studies for the State University of New York system and for public higher education in the Northeast.

Hillels of Northeastern New York, which brings programming of a cultural, religious and informal educational nature to Jewish college students throughout the Capital Region, has a permanent presence at UAlbany, with offices in the campus Chapel House.

Support for Jewish life on campus extends to attention to Shabbat and holiday celebrations, social, religious and politically oriented student groups, and kosher food.

The Department of Judaic Studies

The University at Albany’s Department of Judaic Studies, now in its 30th anniversary year, is a flagship of Jewish studies for public higher education in New York State and the Northeast.

Holocaust survivor Carl H. Rosner, CEO of Intermagnetics General, addresses a Judaic Studies class on "Holocaust: Lessons and Legacies"The Department comprises a diverse faculty that specializes in Jewish philosophy, Hebrew Bible, classical Jewish texts, Jewish history and culture, the history of religions, Holocaust studies, Hebrew language, literature and linguistics, Yiddish theater, Jewish women’s studies, and Zionism and Israel. In addition, affiliate faculty from other disciplines ­ including anthropology, political science, literature, history, and American studies ­ further relate Jewish studies to other important areas of scholarship.

Today, there are no Jewish studies initiatives in the State University of New York system quite like the University at Albany’s. Among its special qualities are:

  • The largest concentration of Jewish students in the SUNY system, estimated at 4,000 individuals, nearly one-quarter of the campus community;
  • A full-fledged Judaic Studies Department, including five permanent full-time faculty, a comprehensive Judaica and Hebrew language studies curriculum, several part-time instructors, and more than 500 students enrolled per semester;
  • The hub of the Israel Abroad Program for the SUNY system;
  • The academic home of the SUNY Press and its Judaic Studies Series;
  • A partnership between UAlbany and Sofia University, Bulgaria, including a new initiative linking the Department of Judaic Studies and Sofia’s recently established Center of Jewish Studies;
  • Important links with the SUNY system, the Capital Region, and residents from all over New York State; and
  • Numerous, well attended public lectures, film series, workshops, conferences, and courses.

UAlbany attracts many of New York's top students to the Judaic studies program. Several conduct intensive student research on Jewish civilization, history and culture.In sum, the Department of Judaic Studies, in collaboration with other campus units, aims to strengthen the educational, research and public service missions of UAlbany by promoting a deeper understanding of the social, religious, and historical dimensions of Jewish civilization.

For further information on the Department, call (518) 442-4130 or visit its web site at

The Center for Jewish Studies

The Center was established in 2001 to advance the University at Albany’s ongoing commitment to overall academic excellence and in particular to the field of Jewish studies.

A Jewish Studies Advisory Board, made up of distinguished community leaders and nationally renowned scholars in Jewish studies, provides valuable input regarding both the Center’s initiatives and the growth and expansion of the Department of Judaic Studies.

The Center extends the reach of Jewish studies at UAlbany and the SUNY system through new educational initiatives, innovative community-wide programming, scholarly endeavors, and distance learning.

UAlbany President Karen Hitchcock and  Alan P. Goldberg, president of First Albany Corporation and chair of the Jewish Studies Advisory Board, pose with other board members and studentsConsistent with the University’s mission, the Center will also expand the Department’s role through graduate coursework, enhanced scholarships, teaching, outreach, and research. The Center’s objectives include:

  • An endowed Distinguished Chair, a full professorship, an associate professorship, and junior professorships to build the existing faculty and with it the Department’s national and international prominence;
  • A Master’s Degree Program that will build on the strengths of the Department and other nationally ranked programs at UAlbany.
  • A Jewish Studies Teaching Certification Program that will enable educators to complete a rigorous one-year training program, strengthening both their Judaica and classroom skills;
  • A Visiting Lecturer/Artist Fund to sponsor distinguished artists-in-residence;
  • An Israel Study Seminar to send freshmen and sophomores to Israel for an intensive seminar during the summer semester;
  • An endowed Undergraduate Scholarship Fund to attract the brightest undergraduate students to Jewish studies at UAlbany;
  • A Distinguished Scholars-in-Residence Program to bring extraordinary Judaica scholars to the University;
  • A Community Events Program that will create opportunities for engagement with the public beyond the campus;
  • An endowed Library Collection to support the acquisition of new scholarly literature and academic journals related to Jewish studies; and
  • An endowed Student Award/Prize Fund to recognize outstanding students in Jewish studies and students who plan to pursue graduate training related to Jewish Studies.

For further information on the Center for Jewish Studies, call (518) 591-8514

Hillel's NENY

Ualbany students gather in Sefat in northern Israel in 2001 on a Hillel-sponsored "birthplace Israel" tour

The Hillels of Northeastern New York (Hillels NENY), a part of Hillel: the Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, serves Jewish college students throughout the Capital Region. Its goal is to ­maximize the number of Jews doing Jewish with other Jews.­ Hillels NENY provides a professional Jewish presence at the University, with offices in Chapel House, the UAlbany interfaith building.

Hillels NENY assists with Shabbat and holiday celebrations, social and educational programs, student leadership opportunities, counseling and referrals, and intercampus activities.

Hillels NENY also provides information about local community events, employment, and opportunities to study or tour in Israel, and forges linkages between the UAlbany and greater Albany Jewish communities.

For information on Hillels NENY or student life programs, call (518) 489-8573, email, or go to its website at

Jewish Groups on Campus

Jewish Student Coalition(JSC)/Hillel
The goal of JSC/Hillel is to enhance social programming for Jewish students on campus through events such as bi-weekly Shabbat dinners, an annual boat cruise, an annual semi-formal, and weekend retreats.


RZA/TAGAR, a Zionist political group on campus, sponsors rallies, speakers, Israel Fairs and musical performances.


RUACH, the Reform group on campus, leads weekly Reform Shabbat services and sponsors social events, such as apple picking and rock climbing.

Shabbos House (Chabad Center)

Hillels NENY has a special relationship with Shabbos House, an independent Chabad presence close to campus. It sponsors biweekly Shabbat dinners and lunches, holiday celebrations and Orthodox services.


L’ CHAIM is a student group that works with Shabbos House, sponsoring many of the holiday programs on campus (e.g. a Simchat Torah party, Purim Megillah reading and Succah building).


KOACH, the Conservative group on campus, leads weekly Conservative Shabbat services and sponsors social and service events, such as latke making, movie nights and trips to a local nursing home.

The Jewish Women’s Group

The Jewish Women’s Group creates programming for Jewish women of all backgrounds on campus. Programs include Rosh Chodesh services, Purim mask-making, and Israeli dancing.

FYSH (First Year Students at Hillel)

FYSH’s programs ­ such as a welcoming event, freshman movie night and barbecues ­ engage new students, generate a sense of camaraderie, and showcase the many opportunities for getting involved in Jewish life on campus.


AE Pi, the national Jewish fraternity, has a campus chapter, Alpha Nu, which is involved in all aspects of Jewish and non-Jewish life at the University.

UAlbany students take part in a guided tour under the Western Wall in Jerusalem in 2001

Kosher Dining

Kosher dining at UAlbany features a full service meat kitchen at Dutch Quad for lunch and dinner six days a week under the supervision of the Va’ad Hakashruth of the Capital Region. In addition, Dreidel’s Kosher Cafe, also supervised by the Va’ad, offers dairy breakfast and lunch selections five days a week. Kosher catering is offered through the Campus Dining Catering office.

About Chapel House

Since 1966, Chapel House, located across from the RACC on the south end of the Uptown Campus, has sought to serve the University community’s religious and social life.

A multi-purpose contemporary structure, it is a place for worship, counseling, study and community-building. Founded on the basis of interfaith cooperation, it holds events throughout the academic year that seek to explore and share traditions of the religious groups represented.

All offices at Chapel House can be reached by calling (518) 489-8573