Coordinates: 41°52′26″N 87°37′29″W / 41.8740°N 87.6247°W / 41.8740; -87.6247

Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership
Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership

Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership (Spertus College or Spertus) is a private educational center in Chicago, Illinois. Spertus offers learning opportunities that are "rooted in Jewish wisdom and culture and open to all" although it is not affiliated with any single branch of Judaism.[1] Graduate programs and workshops "train leaders and engage individuals in exploration of Jewish life."[1] Public programs include films,[2] speakers,[3] seminars, concerts,[4] and exhibits[5] — at the institute's main campus at 610 S. Michigan Avenue, as well as in the Chicago suburbs and online.

Spertus offers graduate degrees in Jewish Professional Studies, Jewish Studies, and until 2016, Nonprofit Management — accredited by North Central Association of Colleges and Schools — as well as professional workshops and a range of public educational and cultural programs.

Well-known presenters have included Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg,[6] author Jonathan Safran Foer,[7] architect Moshe Safdie,[8] hip-hop artist Y-Love,[9] pianist/actor/playwright Hershey Felder,[10] New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, Psychologist Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar,[11] and statistician Nate Silver.[12]

Honorary degree recipients from 1949 to 2011 have included Rabbi Mordecai M. Kaplan, former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Abba Eban, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, author and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel, author and Nobel Literature Laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer, feminist author Betty Friedan, actor Leonard Nimoy, and Hazzan Alberto Mizrahi.


This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (November 2020)

The institute was founded in 1924 as Chicago's College of Jewish Studies.[13][14]

In 1970, it was renamed Spertus College to honor donations made by entrepreneurs (and brothers) Maurice and Herman Spertus [ru].[15][14]

Architecture of the Spertus Institute building

In November 2007, Spertus Institute opened an award-winning,[16] environmentally sustainable facility at 610 S. Michigan Avenue. Designed by Chicago-based Krueck and Sexton Architects, the building features interconnected interior spaces and an unusual ten-story faceted window wall that provides views of the Chicago skyline, Grant Park, and Lake Michigan. This window wall is built from 726 individual pieces of glass in 556 different shapes.[17] The building also houses a 400-seat theater, space for community events and kosher catering facilities.

Like the surrounding buildings, many constructed in the period of architectural innovation that followed the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, this building is forward-looking in its design and use of materials, while maintaining respect for its setting.[citation needed] Like the bays of its 19th- and 20th-century neighbors, the facets that create the façade's dynamic crystalline form allow light to extend into the narrow building, while expanding the views enjoyed from inside.[original research?] The geometry of the façade is unique because the surface is constantly tilting in three dimensions, resulting in individual units of glass that are parallelograms rather than rectangles.[tone] At the same time, the average size of each of the façade's individual panes of glass is consistent with the standard size of the windows in the buildings up and down Michigan Avenue.[citation needed]

The Spertus building was the first new construction in the Historic Michigan Boulevard District after the area was designated a Chicago Landmark in 2002. The cost of the Spertus project was more than $50 million.[18]

In 2011, Meadville Lombard Theological School, a Unitarian Universalist seminary, relocated from its Hyde Park location to the sixth floor of the Spertus building. Academic and administrative tasks of the school now take place in the Spertus building.[19]

Senior staff and faculty

Notable former faculty

See also


  1. ^ a b "About" on the Spertus Institute website
  2. ^ Spertus to screen tale of two cultures, Chicago Tribune, November 8, 2012
  3. ^ Book marks, Chicago Jewish Star, January 25-February 7, 2013
  4. ^ Jazz meets Jewish music in a Hanukkah Jam, Chicago Tribune, December 15, 2011
  5. ^ Tales, Myths, and Nightmares, JUF News, December 2012
  6. ^ "Spertus welcomes Justice Ginsburg". Lake Villa Review. October 8, 2009. Archived from the original on February 24, 2016.
  7. ^ Catlin, John (January 14, 2013). "At Spertus talk, taking the next step Foer-ward". The Chicago Maroon.
  8. ^ "Safdie, Ando, Pedret and Rural Studio's Andrew Freear among names on November calendar of Architectural Events in Chicago". ArchitectureChicago PLUS. 2 November 2006. Retrieved November 2, 2006.
  9. ^ "Y-Love". Songkick.
  10. ^ Kapos, Shia (July 20, 2010). "Hershey Felder's special appearance will raise funds for Spertus". Crain's Chicago Business.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-02-15. Retrieved 2016-02-08.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ Caro, Mark (May 15, 2013). "Nate Silver: In Hollywood, 'Nobody knows anything'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 15, 2013.
  13. ^ "Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies". SEGD. 4 December 2013. Retrieved 2020-11-03.
  14. ^ a b "Spertus History". Spertus. Retrieved 2020-11-03.
  15. ^ Jon Anderson (2006-04-07). "Herman Spertus". Chicago Tribune.
  16. ^ Chicago AIA Awards 2008, Architecture Week, January 14, 2009
  17. ^ "Light radiates throughout new home of Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies," JUF News, November 16, 2007
  18. ^ Blair Kamin, "Blades of Glass," Chicago Tribune, November 21, 2007.
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-01-10. Retrieved 2012-03-27.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^ Bell, Dean Phillip (2007). Jews in the Early Modern World. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-0-7425-4518-2.
  21. ^ Stampfer, Shaul (2009). "Jews in the Early Modern World - by Dean P. Bell". Religious Studies Review. 35 (2): 131. doi:10.1111/j.1748-0922.2009.01345_2.x.
  22. ^ "Dr. Hal M. Lewis invested as president of Spertus Institute". JUF News. February 8, 2010. Retrieved February 8, 2010.
  23. ^ Lewis, Hal M. (2006). From Sanctuary to Boardroom: A Jewish Approach to Leadership. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. ISBN 978-0-7425-5229-6.
  24. ^ Lewis, Hal M. (2004). Models and Meanings in the History of Jewish Leadership. Edwin Mellen Pr. ISBN 978-0-7734-6448-3.
  25. ^ "Jewish Leadership Training: Insights from a Lay Leader". 4 November 2014.