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Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership
Other name
Spertus Institute
Former name
Chicago's College of Jewish Studies
Type4-year, Private not-for-profit
ChairmanHarold Israel
PresidentDr. Dean P. Bell
DeanDr. Keren E. Fraiman
Total staff
Spertus Institute 610 S Michigan Ave Chicago, IL 60605

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 (DBA for Spertus College) is an institution of higher Jewish education headquartered in Chicago, Illinois.

It offers learning opportunities that are "rooted in Jewish wisdom and culture and open to all." At its core are graduate degree and certificate programs in which students engage with Jewish ideas in the service of personal growth, community leadership, and professional advancement. These offerings educate Jewish professionals, community leaders, and those pursuing advanced education in Jewish Studies.[1]

Spertus Institute's academic and professional offerings are complemented by public programs, in an array of onsite and online formats, that invite people of all backgrounds and denominations to experience the richness of Jewish learning and culture.[2] [3] [4]

Spertus Institute is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.[5]


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The institute was founded in 1924 as Chicago's College of Jewish Studies.[6][7]

In 1970, it was renamed to honor donations made by brothers Maurice and Herman Spertus [ru].[8][7]

Notable Faculty and Presenters

During and following World War II, many renowned refugee scholars from Nazi-occupied Europe served on the Spertus faculty. Among them were Dr. Fritz Bamberger, who, following his decades teaching philosophy and comparative literature, left academia to run Esquire magazine; and Simon Rawidowicz and Nahum N. Glatzer, who went on to establish the Jewish Studies Department at Brandeis University.

More recently, Rabbi Dr. Byron Sherwin (1946–2015) was director of doctoral programs.

Well-known presenters have included Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg,[9] author Jonathan Safran Foer,[10] architect Moshe Safdie,[11] hip-hop artist Y-Love,[12] pianist/actor/playwright Hershey Felder,[13] New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, Psychologist Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar,[14] and statistician Nate Silver.[15]

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.

Architecture of the Spertus Institute building

In November 2007, Spertus Institute opened a noteworthy new facility at 610 S. Michigan Avenue. Designed by Chicago-based Krueck Sexton Partners, the building features interconnected interior spaces and an unusual ten-story faceted window wall that offers 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.[16] The building houses classrooms, offices, a library, a 400-seat theater, and a variety of open event spaces.

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 approximately $50 million.[17]

The building has been recognized with a number of awards, including the Distinguished Building Award and Divine Detail Award from the American Institute of Architects's Chicago Chapter [18] and Best Building of the Year from Interior Design Magazine.[19]

See also


  1. ^ "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. ^ "Higher Learning Commission". Retrieved 2023-07-03.
  6. ^ "Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies". SEGD. 4 December 2013. Retrieved 2020-11-03.
  7. ^ a b "Spertus History". Spertus. Retrieved 2020-11-03.
  8. ^ Jon Anderson (2006-04-07). "Herman Spertus". Chicago Tribune.
  9. ^ "Spertus welcomes Justice Ginsburg". Lake Villa Review. October 8, 2009. Archived from the original on February 24, 2016.
  10. ^ Catlin, John (January 14, 2013). "At Spertus talk, taking the next step Foer-ward". The Chicago Maroon.
  11. ^ "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.
  12. ^ "Y-Love". Songkick.
  13. ^ Kapos, Shia (July 20, 2010). "Hershey Felder's special appearance will raise funds for Spertus". Crain's Chicago Business.
  14. ^ "Spertus announces Chicago appearance of Tal Ben-Shahar | Spertus". Archived from the original on 2016-02-15. Retrieved 2016-02-08.
  15. ^ Caro, Mark (May 15, 2013). "Nate Silver: In Hollywood, 'Nobody knows anything'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 15, 2013.
  16. ^ "Light radiates throughout new home of Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies," JUF News, November 16, 2007
  17. ^ Blair Kamin, "Blades of Glass," Chicago Tribune, November 21, 2007.
  18. ^ Media, Orbit (2008-05-05). "Spertus Institute receives award from AIA". Environmental Systems Design, Inc. Retrieved 2023-07-03.
  19. ^ "Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning & Leadership". Krueck Sexton Partners. Retrieved 2023-07-03.