February 24, 2013

Ziering family makes $1 million gift to establish endowment for the arts and fund for philosophy and ethics

The Ziering Family of Los Angeles has made a $1 million gift to Shalem College for the establishment of an endowment for the arts and a fund for philosophy and ethics. By encouraging students to ask and address timeless questions about the human condition, the initiatives further Shalem’s mission of engaging young minds in the ongoing intellectual conversation at the heart of the Western and Jewish traditions, and preparing them for lives of meaning and active citizenship.

Designed to cultivate graduates committed to ensuring Israel’s long-term cultural vitality, the Marilyn and Sigi Ziering Endowment for the Arts will enable Shalem to recruit top-notch faculty for its music and arts courses, including Roy Oppenheim, who will teach the history of music and music theory. Oppenheim, a conductor for several major Israeli orchestras and a scholar of educational philosophy, is also co-founder of the “Revolutionary Orchestra,” a unique project fusing classical music with cutting-edge visual media. Along with integrating music and the arts into its core curriculum, Shalem also plans to bring artists, performers, and scholars to campus —as well as bring students to concerts, theatrical performances, museum exhibits, and other cultural venues in Jerusalem and throughout the country.

The emphasis on using creative expression as a window into Western and Jewish civilizations is deliberate. Marilyn Ziering, a leading supporter of Jewish causes, and in particular of programs in Jewish education, is also a devoted patron of the arts. As a member of the board of the Los Angeles Opera, she spearheaded an opera-reclamation project, titled “Recovered Voices,” in 2006, which revived libretti suppressed by the Nazis. “Shalem’s desire to make the arts and music a central element of the intellectual and emotional lives of their students is one that spoke deeply to me,” explained Ziering. “Shalem College understands that these fields not only sustain our own cultural heritage and introduce us to other cultural traditions and perspectives around the world, but also  encourage us to explore what it means to be human, and to complement the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of science with the all-important question of ‘why.’ I’m honored to partner in this important initiative for the Jewish state.”

The Sigi Ziering Fund for Philosophy and Ethics, named in honor of Marilyn’s late husband, will advance the teaching and research of Shalem faculty involved in shaping Israel’s public life in accordance with its liberal tradition. They include Asa Kasher, one of Israel’s leading ethicists and co-author of the IDF’s Code of Ethics, and Ruth Gavison, renowned legal scholar and advocate for human rights. The Sigi Ziering Fund will also enable Shalem to bring leading scholars from abroad to campus for mini-seminar series and lectures.

“The future of the Jewish state and people depends as much on our creative capacity and ability to imagine a better, more just, and purposeful society as it does on our skills in the hard sciences,” concluded Daniel Polisar, co-founder of Shalem College. “The Zierings’ investment will enable Shalem to nurture that capacity and ability, and is therefore an integral part of our mission.”

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