McGill University celebrates revitalized Department of Jewish Studies


Published: 10Mar1998

At a time of cutbacks and shrinking academic departments, McGill University is proud to announce significant contributions to the Jewish Studies Department. Two philanthropic gifts of $1 million each will help ensure that the only department of Jewish Studies at a Canadian university flourishes and continues to offer students instruction in Jewish civilization, from introductory to graduate levels. Recent budget cuts had reduced full-time teaching staff in the Department from eight to four.

With the two donations McGill University is delighted to announce the establishment of the Leanor and Alvin Segal Endowment for Jewish Studies and the Jack Cummings Memorial Endowment for Jewish Studies. The generosity of Alvin and Leanor Segal and of Steven Cummings, his mother, Norma Cummings, and his sister, Nancy Cummings Gold, "reflects confidence in McGill University as a great centre of learning," says Chancellor Gretta Chambers. "Moreover, these dramatic gifts constitute a powerful testimony to the viability of the Jewish community in Montreal."

Students in the Department, which will celebrate its 30th anniversary next fall, come from diverse backgrounds and religious identities. Indeed, students from every division of the University take courses in Jewish Studies in subjects as varied as Yiddish and Hebrew Language and Literature, Jewish History, Bible, Holocaust Studies, Rabbinics and Jewish Thought.

Principal Bernard Shapiro underscored the importance of the gifts by noting that "these endowments will ensure that generations of students interested in the humanities can learn about Jewish culture and civilization."

The unprecedented gifts of the Cummings and Segal families will enable the Department of Jewish Studies to continue to teach, research and to serve the community. Thanks to the farsighted support of these two leading Montreal families, the Department will strengthen its role within the Faculty of Arts and continue to contribute to the University’s intellectual tradition.