Graduation Keynote address By Dr. Burton Visotzky of the Jewish Theological Seminary

Hartford Seminary will hold its 2013 Commencement Exercises on May 31st at the Seminary. This year the graduation speaker will be Dr. Burton L. Visotzky, Appleman Professor of Midrash and Interreligious Studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) in New York City, where he has been a member of the faculty since his ordination as rabbi in 1977. Previously Associate and Acting Dean of the Graduate School and founding Rabbi of the egalitarian worship service of the Seminary Synagogue, Visotzky now serves as the Louis Stein Director of the Finkelstein Institute for religious and Social Studies at JTS, charged with programs on public policy. He is also director of the Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue at JTS. Prof. Visotzky?s address is entitled ?The Miracle of Multifaith Education.?

The Commencement Exercises begin at 5:00pm and are held on the front lawn of the Seminary (77 Sherman Ave., Hartford, CT) rain or shine. Immediately following the ceremony, which is approximately 90 minutes long, students and guests are invited to join program guests, faculty and staff for light refreshments in the Seminary?s Meeting Room.

Dr. Visotzky?s relationship with Hartford Seminary has deep roots, focused on interreligious engagement. He was instrumental in creating a pioneering partnership between the schools that enables JTS students to take courses at Hartford Seminary with the goal of further developing interfaith understanding. This opportunity for JTS students was made possible by scholarship funding given by Cornelius and Gertrude Prior, long-time benefactors of Hartford Seminary. Gertrude Prior is also a member of the Hartford Seminary Board of Trustees. Last summer the first three JTS students participated in the program and were engaged in the Building Abrahamic Partnerships course while living on the Hartford Seminary campus.

When the JTS-Hartford Seminary partnership was first announced, Hartford Seminary President Heidi Hadsell said, ?It is vitally important to prepare religious leaders of all faiths to lead their communities in an increasingly plural environment. Hartford seminary is a key player in this effort, through our various interfaith initiatives and now through this program.? Dr. Visotzsky commented, ?the opportunity for rabbinical students from the Jewish Theological Seminary to study at Hartford Seminary in the multi-faith environment of Christian and Muslim colleagues is a Godsend.?

Over the years, Dr. Visotzky has helped to plan a variety of collaborative projects with Hartford Seminary. With President Heidi Hadsell and Dr. Ingrid Mattson, he was instrumental in developing ?Judaism and Islam in America,? a national conference sponsored by Hartford Seminary, the Islamic Society of North America and the JTS. This conference was held annually for three years beginning in 2010 with funding provided by the Carnegie Corporation. The conference workshops offered an opportunity for Jewish, Muslim and Christian religious leaders to come together and foster constructive dialogue among Jews and Muslims about their experiences as members of minority religions in the United States.

Professor Visotzky holds degrees from the University of Illinois at Chicago, Harvard University, and the Jewish Theological Seminary. He has been visiting faculty at Oxford, Cambridge, Princeton, the Russian State University of the Humanities in Moscow; he served as the Master Visiting Professor of Jewish Studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He will be teaching at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome in Spring, 2014.

Professor Visotzky is active as a lecturer and scholar-in-residence throughout North America, Europe, and Israel. His study groups and books have been hailed on radio, television, and in print.

For reservations, contact Marcia Pavao, Dean?s Office, or 860-509-9512.

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