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Philanthropist Felix Posen Discusses "The Development of Modern Jewish Culture" at UAlbany’s Center for Jewish Studies

Contact: Catherine Herman (518) 437-4980

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 3, 2005) -- Felix Posen, philanthropist and vice chairman of the International Federation of Secular Humanistic Jews, will deliver a lecture at UAlbany titled “The Development of Modern Jewish Culture.” The March 10, 4 p.m. event will be held in the Alumni House on UAlbany’s uptown campus. The program is free and open to the public, and light kosher refreshments will be served.

“We are fortunate for the rare opportunity to listen to and consult with one of today’s premiere Jewish leaders,” said Alan Goldberg, chair of the Center for Jewish Studies Advisory Board, and president of First Albany. “Mr. Posen’s dedication to higher education and Jewish philanthropy is a boon for Jewish Studies at UAlbany and a model for the Capital Region and New York State.”

Posen focuses his energy and substantial resources on educating the world about the cultural, intellectual, scientific, economic, and historical contributions of Jews over the centuries. He retired in 1992 as a partner of what was then the largest international trading firm dealing in oil, metal and minerals, and coal. Mr. Posen has been the main support of the well-known Center for the Study of Antisemitism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which also houses the Felix Posen Bibliographic Project on Antisemitism. In 1992 he established two colleges in Israel: Alma Hebrew College in Tel Aviv and Meitar, the College of Pluralistic Judaism in Jerusalem. He initiated educational programs on secular Judaism at seven Israeli institutions of higher learning in 2001.

The International Federation of Secular Humanistic Jews is an association linking national organizations in Europe, North and South America, Israel, Australia, and countries of the former Soviet Union. Posen is the governor emeritus and an honorary fellow of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies and was awarded both an honorary fellowship and doctorate by the Hebrew University.

In 2004-2005, the Posen Foundation donated $50,000 to the University to support the development of new courses related to the study of secular Jewish life and culture. While Jewish studies departments and programs have grown over the last two decades, few include bachelors and master’s level courses in the study of the secularization of Judaism. The Posen Foundation and the Center for Cultural Judaism believe that the secularization of Judaism is a vital and irrefutable part of modern Jewish life, and requires study and understanding with respect to its history, texts and philosophers.

“This is a spectacular opportunity to expand the breadth and reach of Jewish studies at UAlbany,” added Mark A. Raider, director of the Center for Jewish Studies. “We are grateful to Mr. Felix Posen for his visionary leadership in this critical area of scholarship and teaching.”

Posen has declared it his mission “to be a service-provider for cultural and secular Jews, who represent the largest portion of the Jewish population and are by far the most underserved.” In offering these grants, the aim of the Posen Foundation is to support the teaching of new courses designed specifically to examine the phenomenon of Secular Judaism in its own right, as its own topic.


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