U.C. Santa Cruz Jewish studies lands Diller grant

U.C. Santa Cruz’s Jewish studies program has received a $500,000 gift from the Helen Diller Family Foundation toward the establishment of a new Baumgarten endowed chair in Jewish studies.

The donation puts the program within $300,000 of its fundraising goal of $1 million to establish the chair, which will be held by a senior-level faculty scholar.

The Baumgarten chair will honor Jewish studies scholar and teacher Murray Baumgarten, whose vision of Jewish studies has guided the school’s program for nearly three decades.

“Murray Baumgarten’s unique leadership made the establishment of a premier Jewish studies program at U.C. Santa Cruz a reality,” the Dillers noted. “We are pleased to be able to honor his vision.”

A gift from the Dillers in 1997 established the Helen Diller Family Endowment for Jewish Studies at UCSC. That initial seed funding helped create UCSC’s Center for Jewish Studies, which now serves the largest number of enrolled undergraduates in Jewish studies at any Northern California postsecondary institution, according to a press release from U.C. Santa Cruz. Also, since 2010, the university has offered a bachelor’s degree in Jewish studies.