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New Directors Appointed to Lead Jewish Studies Program and Center for Jewish Studies
Untitled Document


Phyllis Cohen Stevens
Deputy Director of News Services

(718) 997-5597

Maria Matteo
News Assistant
(718) 997-5593



FLUSHING, NY, March 16, 2006 -- Queens College is pleased to announce the appointment of new leaders for its Jewish Studies Program and its Center for Jewish Studies, which have become the major focal points for Jewish cultural events and scholarly studies in the New York metropolitan area.

The extraordinary vitality of both of these programs is due to the hard work and dedication of Professor Benny Kraut over the past eight years. As director of the undergraduate Jewish Studies Program, Professor Kraut expanded the range of course offerings and attracted more students to the program to learn about the richness of Jewish history and culture. And as head of the Center for Jewish Studies, he initiated several lecture series, a film series, a music and theatre series, and organized important symposia that drew scholars from around the world.

Professor Kraut has decided to step down from these two positions and return to the History Department. “Benny Kraut is one of the most creative, dedicated, and tireless professors it has been my pleasure to be associated with,” notes Queens College President James Muyskens. “It seemed to me we would need two people to take his place.” And after Dr. Muyskens consulted with the faculty of the Jewish Studies Program and the external advisory board of the Center for Jewish Studies, they decided to do just that.

Effective July 1, 2006, Professor Mark Rosenblum, a long-time member of the college’s History Department and director of the Michael Harrington Center, will also direct the Jewish Studies Program. William Helmreich, professor of Sociology and Judaic Studies at City College, has agreed to become the Director of the Center for Jewish Studies. Professor Rosenblum’s focus will be the undergraduate academic program, while Professor Helmreich will concentrate on community programming and outreach.

Arthur Anderman, the chair of the Center for Jewish Studies’ Advisory Board, says that “Benny Kraut built the Center into an internationally acclaimed site for teaching, scholarship and community service. His very understandable decision to step down to pursue his other interests left us with a difficult decision concerning how best to continue to build our future. We are most fortunate to have engaged William Helmreich, a noted educator, author, lecturer, market researcher, and consultant, to be the new Director of the Center for Jewish Studies. We are equally excited that Mark Rosenblum will now direct the Jewish Studies Program. We look forward to Professors Helmreich and Rosenblum working together to continue the excellence of the Center.”

The author of numerous scholarly and popular articles, Mark Rosenblum has appeared as a Middle East analyst on CNN, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, and National Public Radio. He has met with virtually all the major players in the region, including Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, King Abdullah II, Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, former PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat, and Syrian cabinet ministers and foreign ministry officials. In 1999 the Forward named Professor Rosenblum one of the 50 most influential American Jews, and in 2003 he received the Queens College President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Professor Rosenblum’s project, “The Middle East and America: Clash of Civilizations or Meeting of the Minds,” has garnered considerable acclaim and media attention for its requirement that Jewish and Muslim students immerse themselves in the opposing group’s history relative to the Middle East conflict and construct a compelling “narrative” that supports the opposing viewpoint. Recently the project received a $100,000 grant from the Ford Foundation. Professor Rosenblum was also recently selected by the Clinton Global Initiative as one of two winners of an award for work in the field of Religion, Conflict and Reconciliation. His project, “Insight on Incitement: A Public Education Program on Israeli-Palestinian Peace Making,” will bring together Israeli, Palestinian, and American scholars, policymakers, diplomats, and activists in an effort to analyze what went wrong with the Oslo Accords’ trilateral anti-incitement regime.

“It is an extraordinary honor to follow in the footsteps of Benny Kraut, whose boundless energy and bold leadership have built such an exemplary center for Jewish exploration and education,” says Professor Rosenblum. “It has enriched both the college and the community. I am determined to help build upon this solid foundation and meet the challenges of Jewish life and learning in a way that is befitting this world-class college in a global environment filled with promise and peril.”

William B. Helmreich is professor of Sociology and Judaic Studies at the City University Graduate Center and City College of New York. He also serves as director of the City College Conflict Resolution Center. A former Woodrow Wilson Fellow, Professor Helmreich is the author of eleven books, including Against All Odds: Holocaust Survivors and the Successful Lives They Made in America, which won a National Jewish Book Award. He has written for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and many scholarly journals, and appears frequently on radio and TV shows such as “Oprah,” “Larry King Live,” and the “CBS Morning News.”

Professor Helmreich brings with him a fine record as a fundraiser in the Nassau-Queens area. As president of the North Shore Hebrew Academy, he increased the school’s fundraising more than tenfold in his first year. He was also a major force in helping the Academy raise $48 million for a new high school that will open its doors this September.

“I’m very excited at the prospect of heading the Center for Jewish Studies,” he notes. “Under Professor Kraut’s outstanding leadership it has become one of the best in the country. My hope is to add new programs of similar quality and to build a solid financial foundation that will ensure its continued growth. I also look forward to working closely with Professor Rosenblum to ensure the broadest student and faculty participation in all areas.”

With these two appointments Queens College gets the best of both worlds: Professor Rosenblum has an insider’s knowledge of the workings of the college and the ability to involve more students and faculty in the Jewish Studies Program. Professor Helmreich brings an invaluable outsider’s perspective that will help the Center for Jewish Studies expand its community outreach mission. This outside perspective is particularly important for the Center. All City University centers are expected to advance the mission of their college by raising substantial external funding. This allows colleges to accomplish more than they would be able to if they relied only on their basic institutional budget.

A special tribute to Professor Kraut is being planned for May 24. More details about the event will be released in the near future.


 Office Information

Deputy Director of News Services
(Position vacant)

(718) 997- 5597

Maria Matteo
Assistant Director of News Services
Queens Hall, Room 270B
(718) 997-5593

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