Pardes creates inaugural chair in rabbinic literature honoring Pittsburgh’s Shapira family
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Pardes creates inaugural chair in rabbinic literature honoring Pittsburgh’s Shapira family

'We are humbled and grateful for this honor from Pardes.'

The Shapira family from left to right: Daugher Laura Shapira Karet, son-in-
law David Gilinsky, son Jeremy Shapira, daughter Deborah Shapira, wife Cynthia Shapira and David Shapira. (Photo courtesy of Pardes Institute)
The Shapira family from left to right: Daugher Laura Shapira Karet, son-in- law David Gilinsky, son Jeremy Shapira, daughter Deborah Shapira, wife Cynthia Shapira and David Shapira. (Photo courtesy of Pardes Institute)

The sages teach that one mitzvah leads to another. A recent announcement from Israel confirms that principle: Weeks ago, the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, a Jerusalem-based educational center with programming worldwide, announced the creation of a chair honoring Pittsburgh’s Shapira family — the Shapira Family Chair in Rabbinic Literature.

The Shapira Foundation has supported Pardes for years. As lead donors toward the institution’s capital campaign, the foundation helped Pardes raise $5.3 million as of Dec. 12 and continues matching gifts.

Earlier this year, the Jewish learning center broke ground on Beit Karen, a 54,000-square-foot facility named in memory of Karen Shapira, a former Pardes board member. Beit Karen, which was conceived more than a decade ago, will allow the organization to “serve four times the number of students, with a 250-person theater for public programs, green spaces, new technology and an incubator for new educational initiatives,” according to Pardes.

David Shapira said that the family’s relationship with Pardes dates back decades to when his daughter Deborah Shapira studied there after college.

In fact, one of Deborah Shapira’s teachers, Leah Rosenthal, a senior educator in Talmud at Pardes, was named the inaugural Shapira Family Chair in Rabbinic Literature.

Deborah Shapira is a member of the board of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and daughter of Karen Shapira. (Photo courtesy of Pardes Institute)

Deborah Shapira, a former Pardes board chair, said it’s a “delight” that her former teacher will hold this new position at Pardes, noting that “Rosenthal has a stellar reputation among Pardes students and alumni. Her profound insights into sacred texts, coupled with her exceptional skills in teaching mahkloket (constructive dialogue for deeper understanding) and chevruta (deepening of peer relationship through text study) align perfectly with our vision for authentic and meaningful Jewish learning.”

Rosenthal has taught at Pardes for more than 20 years. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Talmud and Jewish philosophy and a master’s in Jewish education, both from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

“This chaired position offers immense possibilities to inspire learners in new ways,” Rosenthal said. “It’s a privilege that it carries the Shapira name, and I look forward to carrying out their remarkable legacy and commitment to Pardes.”

David Shapira praised the institution and its commitment to furthering Jewish education.

Knowing that a new chair in rabbinic literature will carry his family name evokes sincere gratitude, he said: “We are humbled and grateful for this honor from Pardes.” PJC

Adam Reinherz can be reached at areinherz@pittsburghjewishchronicle.org.

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