Baltimore Hebrew University
BALTIMORE HEBREW UNIVERSITY
The Baltimore Hebrew College and Teachers Training School was founded in 1919 by the noted Hebrew poet and scholar Israel *Efros. According to its charter, the purpose of the college was "to establish a College for Higher Hebrew and Semitic learning; to study the Hebrew and cognate languages and literature; to train and qualify teachers for Jewish religious schools; and for such cognate purposes as may from time to time be determined by the Board of Directors of this corporation, with power to confer degrees." The first class met on November 2, 1919, in the Chizuk Amuno synagogue and the first graduation took place in June 1923. Dr. Efros resigned in 1928, and in 1930 he was succeeded by Dr. Louis L. *Kaplan, who served as president until 1970. The college was housed at 1201 Eutaw Place from the mid-1920s until 1959, when it moved to Park Heights Avenue. The college became a constituent of the Associated Jewish Charities and Welfare Fund (now the Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore) in 1930. The college received accreditation from the state of Maryland in 1963 and from the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools in 1974. It was renamed Baltimore Hebrew University in 1987 when Middle States conferred university status on it.
Over the years the university expanded its academic outreach to offer a number of degree programs. In 1971 the university opened its graduate school, which in 1975 was named the Peggy Meyerhoff Pearlstone School of Graduate Studies. In addition to the B.A. degree in Jewish Studies which is offered by the University's Bernard Manekin School of Undergraduate Studies, the graduate achool offers programs leading to the Masters and Ph.D. degrees in Jewish Studies. The graduate school also developed degree programs to train Jewish educators and communal professionals. These programs lead to the Master of Arts in Jewish Education or the Master of Arts in Jewish Communal Service. Graduates of these programs have become teachers, principals, and other educational specialists in the field of Jewish education and others have become executives in federations, Jewish Community Centers, community relations councils and in the field of Jewish family service. The university also maintains cooperative relations with Baltimore area colleges through the Baltimore Collegetown Network, which enables area colleges to share resources and jointly enhance the academic and social life of students.
While remaining committed to academic Jewish Studies and to the training of Jewish educators and communal professionals, the university also provides opportunities for Jewish learning to non-degree students through its program of Lifelong Learning. The program has featured weekend retreats with scholars, artists, and public figures; classes in Jewish Studies; a Distinguished Lecture series with major scholars, authors, playwrights, and filmmakers; and the Meah Program, a two-year 100-hour course of study covering the Jewish experience from biblical times to the present.
The University maintains the Joseph Meyerhoff Library, which contains over 70,000 books and periodicals in English, Hebrew, Yiddish, German, French, Russian, and other languages and includes a number of rare books going back to the 16th century. The library also houses the Baltimore Jewish Community Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies and a collection of books that survived the Holocaust acquired through the Jewish Cultural Reconstruction Organization.
Among the distinguished scholars who have served on the faculty of the university are Moshe Aberbach, Joseph M. Baumgarten, Adele Berlin, Avram Biran, Cyrus *Gordon, Samuel Iwry, and Harry M. *Orlinsky.
The presidents who have served Baltimore Hebrew University are Israel Efros (1919–28), Louis L. Kaplan (1930–70), Leivy Smolar (1970–92), Norma Fields Furst (1992–95), Robert O. Freedman (1995–2001), and Rela Mintz Geffen (from 2001).
[George L. Berlin (2nd ed.)]