Announcing the Center for Jewish Civilization and Major $10M Gift for Research and Teaching

February 24, 2016

Dear Members of the Georgetown University Community:
 
I am writing to share with our community important news about our Center for Jewish Civilization.
 
Gifts of more than 500 alumni and friends of the University have permanently endowed this Center, which was established as the Program for Jewish Civilization in 2003 through the leadership of Rabbi Harold White and Robert Lieber, Ph.D., professor of government and international affairs. Led by professor Jacques Berlinerblau, Ph.D., since 2006, the Center has expanded its expertise and engagement in a wide range of subjects related to the history, culture and traditions of the Jewish people, in addition to more than doubling the number of students pursuing a minor or certificate in Jewish Civilization in recent years.
 
Located in our Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, the Center is unique in its examination of Judaism as a religion and as a civilization in dialogue with other peoples and polities. During Dr. Berlinerblau’s leadership over the last decade, it has grown to specialize in areas ranging from American-Middle Eastern foreign policy as it pertains to Israel, to Holocaust and genocide studies, to Jewish-Catholic relations both past and present, and to Jewish literature, culture, and religious expression. Today, The Washington Post documents some of the history of this work at Georgetown. 
 
I am also pleased to announce that the Center has received a significant gift of $10 million from philanthropists Norman and Irma Braman to endow a program on the forensic study of the Holocaust. Their generosity will fund an endowed professorship and associated research, teaching and public service programs that will help to ensure that the study of the Holocaust, its origins, methods and consequences, retain a vital and ongoing place in the life of our University. I wish to express my deepest gratitude to Norman and Irma for their extraordinary generosity.
 
The inaugural holder of the professorship, known as the Braman Endowed Professorship of the Practice of the Forensic Study of the Holocaust, will be the Reverend Patrick Desbois, a world-renowned historian and scholar of the Holocaust. Father Desbois’ previous and ongoing study of the Nazi genocide of the Jews and others has provided significant new insight into the conduct and outcomes of one of history’s largest crimes against humanity.
 
Father Desbois’ work is another example of preeminent scholarship supported by the Center and the incredible learning opportunities available to our students to take courses with leaders in its various fields of endeavor and to conduct original research under expert mentorship.
 
We are deeply grateful for the contributions that this Center has made to the study of Jewish Civilization—its interactions with art, culture, history, religion and world affairs—within our community and globally.
 
Please join me in expressing our deepest gratitude to the members of our community who have supported the development of the Center for Jewish Civilization. 
 
Sincerely,
 
John J. DeGioia