The IJS is a nonprofit, community-based organization that encourages people throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond to join together in learning about Jewish history, culture, and life.
Our volunteer-led efforts focus on Jewish intellectual and cultural programming, grant programs and academic enrichment.
Our main mission is to serve as a bridge that connects new ideas to our region's vibrant Jewish cultures and communities.
- Partnership with community organizations and academic institutions.
- Participation at events by a broad demographic of the community.
- Community diversity reflected in membership and on the board.
- Financial stability and/or growth.
The Institute for Judaic Studies is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. We are dependent on gifts and revenue generated from membership and from grants for specific programs from such organizations as the Oregon Jewish Community Foundation.
Following the demise of the Middle East Studies Center at Portland State University in 1983, Rabbi Stampfer, who had taught in that Center, was concerned by the lack of Jewish-related courses at the local colleges and universities. He decided to convene a meeting of college and university presidents as well as local Jewish leaders and set out to establish the Institute for Judaic Studies. Its initial goal was to encourage financial support for the establishment of Chairs in Judaic Studies at Oregon colleges and universities. The first Chair, the Moe & Izetta Tonkon, was established at Reed college in 1984 followed by the Harold Schnitzer family at the University of Oregon. Starting in 2006 Portland State University established 4 Chairs in Judaic Studies.
The Institute’s activities then centered on college-community activities such as the annual academic conferences held on campuses across the city, with leading scholars from around the world.
Increasingly the Institute devoted much of its energies to Jewish cultural programs for the entire community, such as the Portland Jewish Film Festival, in collaboration with the Northwest Film Center in 1992, and the Weekend in Quest in Astoria in 2007.
The Institute for Judaic Studies can look with great pride and joy over the years since its founding in 1983. When asked in 2008, on the eve of the Institute’s 25th Anniversary Celebration which program is his favorite, Rabbi Stampfer responded, "The next one."
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