Gratz College
Gratz Logo.jpg
MottoLearn. Teach. Lead
Established1895 (1895)
Religious affiliationJewish
PresidentPaul Finkelman, Ph.D.
LocationMelrose Park, Pennsylvania, United States
40°04′07″N 75°08′00″W / 40.0685, -75.1332</td></tr>
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Gratz College is a private Jewish college in Melrose Park, Pennsylvania. The college traces its origins to 1856 when banker, philanthropist, and communal leader Hyman Gratz and the Hebrew Education Society of Philadelphia (established in 1849 by Rebecca Gratz and Isaac Leeser) joined together to establish a trust to create a Hebrew teachers college. Gratz is a private liberal arts college located in a suburban setting and is primarily a commuter campus with online courses.[1]

In addition to its undergraduate, graduate certificate, master's, and doctoral programs, Gratz also runs cultural programs, adult education offerings, a Jewish Community High School, and the Tuttleman Library for Jewish studies. Gratz also operates distance learning programs, including the first online Master of Arts in Holocaust and Genocide Studies. In addition, Gratz College is "the only institution in the United States to offer an actual Doctor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies degree, as opposed to a Ph.D. in a related discipline, like history or sociology."[2] The newly available doctorate is the first-ever online Ph.D. in Holocaust and Genocide Studies.


In 1856, Hyman Gratz signed a Deed of Trust to create a college after his death if various heirs died without children. The trust provided for "the establishment and support of a college for the education of Jews residing in the city and county of Philadelphia”.[3] Hyman Gratz died on January 27, 1857, at age 81, and on October 15, 1893 the last heir named in the will died without any children. Thus the Gratz estate became available to create the college. On March 20, 1895, the trustees responsible for creating the college received slightly over $105,000[4] from the trust to create the college. The college was officially founded in February, 1895[5]. Starting in October 1895, the college sponsored various lectures and other educational programs.[6]

Early Academic HistoryEdit

In 1897, under the leadership of Board President, Moses A. Dropsie,[7], Gratz College hired the first three faculty members: Henry M. Speaker (Principal, Jewish Literature), Arthur A. Dembitz (Jewish History), Isaac Husik (Hebrew Language).[8] Classes officially began in January, 1898. Henry M. Speaker was an 1894 graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America where he studied Jewish Education.[9] Isaac Husik, while teaching at Gratz, received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from University of Pennsylvania in 1902. He remained on the Gratz faculty until 1916 when he became a professor of philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania.[10] Arthur Dembitz was the first cousin of Louis Dembitz Brandeis who at the time was one of the leading Jewish attorneys in the United States and in 1916 became the first Jew to serve on the US Supreme Court.[11][10]

Following the model of the early Jewish educator, Rebecca Gratz (Hyman's sister), the first classes at Gratz College were focused on the training of teachers. Women were accepted and educated on the same basis as men. There were eight women and five men in the first 'afternoon' class and the first evening class had twelve women and nine men.[12] Women were inspired to gain training and enrolled in Gratz to become teachers of various aspects of Jewish culture, literature, history and language.[12]


Graduate programsEdit

Gratz College[13] has two doctoral programs: Doctor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies (Ph.D.) and Doctor of Education in Leadership (Ed.D.). Gratz master's degree (MA and MS) programs include: Master of Arts in Education (MAEd), Master of Arts in Holocaust and Genocide Studies[14], Master of Arts in Jewish Professional Studies, Master of Arts in Jewish Communal Service, Master of Arts in Jewish Studies, and Master of Science in Nonprofit Management. In 2018, Gratz initiated a new program, a Master of Arts in Interfaith Leadership.[15]

Undergraduate programsEdit

Gratz offers undergraduate degree programs in Jewish Professional Studies and Jewish Studies. In addition, an undergraduate certificate in Jewish Education is offered as a starting point or boost to those already in Jewish educational settings and an Early Childhood Director Credential Certificate.[1]

Graduate Certificate ProgramsEdit

In addition to their full degree programs, Gratz offers Graduate Certificate Programs in Education, Master's Plus in Distinguished Teaching and Learning (Education), Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Jewish Nonprofit Management, Jewish Studies, Jewish Communal Service, and Nonprofit Management.[2]

Adult Continuing EducationEdit

Professional Development courses for educators (CEU) and Continuing Legal Education (CLE) opportunities are offered every year to surrounding area professionals. In addition, the local community is offered 'Lunch and Learn', an educational speaker series held monthly.

Organization and AdministrationEdit

Gratz College is a not-for-profit educational institution governed by a 30-member Board of Governors. The current chair is Rabbi Lance J. Sussman, Ph.D., the immediate past chair is Michelle Portnoff, J.D.. Historically, most members of the Board of Governors lived in greater Philadelphia, however the current board also has members in Georgia, Florida, Maryland and British Columbia. The current president of Gratz College is Paul Finkelman, Ph.D who took office in November, 2017.


Gratz is regionally accredited through the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.[1] Gratz was first accredited in 1967[3] and most recently completed the accredidation process in 2015. The next evaluation visit is scheduled for the 2018 - 2019 academic year. The 2015 Carnegie Classification is Special Focus Four-Year - Other Special Focus Institutions.

Notable alumniEdit

  • Bernice Abrams[4] (1936) - social worker, Jewish activist, philanthropist
  • Gershon Agron - Mayor of Jerusalem 1955 - 1959
  • Lori Alhadeff - activist and member of the Broward County School Board
  • Noam Chomsky, Ph.D. (1945) - linguist, cognitive scientist, historian, social critic, and political activist
  • Mark B. Cohen, (1972) - Common Pleas Court Judge, Philadelphia, House of Representatives (1974 - 2016)
  • Arnold Dashefsky, Ph.D. (1963) - Professor of Sociology at University of Connecticut, Director of the North American Jewish databank
  • Isidore Dyen, Ph.D. (cir 1928) - linguist, Professor Emeritus of Malayo-Polynesian and Comparative Linguistics at Yale University
  • Eric Goldman, Ph.D. (1970) - film historian, educator[5]
  • Cyrus H. Gordon, Ph.D. - scholar of Near Eastern cultures and ancient languages
  • Rabbi Samuel K Joseph, Ph.D. - Eleanor Sinsheimer Distinguished Service Professorship of Jewish Education and Leadership Development, Hebrew Union College[6]
  • Rabbi William E. Kaufman, Ph.D. - author of books on Jewish Philosophy
  • Diane King, Ph.D. (cir 1975) - professor, scholar, Lifetime Achievement Award of the Jewish Educators Assembly
  • Michael Levin[7] (cir 2000) - American born soldier in the Paratroopers Brigade of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), KIA 2006 in Lebanon
  • Sandra Ostrowicz Lilenthal, MA (Gratz, 2007), Ed.D. (Gratz, 2014) - educator, curriculum developer, scholar, 2015 Covenant Award Recipient[8]
  • Rose (Schwartz) Schmukler (1931) - artist, poet[9]
  • Saul Wachs, Ph.D.[10] (1951) - educator, author


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Gratz College - The College Board".
  2. Staff Writer (August 30, 2017). "Gratz College launches online Ph.D. in Holocaust and Genocide Studies". Jewish Community Voice. Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  3. King, Diane A. (1979). A history of Gratz College, 1893-1928. Dropsie University: ubpublished doctoral dissertation. pp. 70-71.
  4. King, Diane A. (1979). A history of Gratz College, 1893-1928. Dropsie University: unpublished doctoral dissertation. p. 74.
  5. King, Diane A. (1979). A history of Gratz College, 1893-1928. Dropsie University: unpublished doctoral dissertation. pp. 79-80.
  6. King, Diane A. (1979). A history of Gratz College, 1893-1928. Dropsie University: unpublished doctoral dissertation. pp. 84-87.
  7. Adler, Cyrus; Sulzberger, David. "1906 Jewish Encyclopedia: Dropsie, Moses Aaron". Kopelman Foundation. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  8. King, Diane A. (1979). A history of Gratz College, 1893-1928. Dropsie University: ubpublished doctoral dissertation. p. 162.
  9. Fierstien, Robert E. (1987). "The Founding and Early Years of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America". History of Higher Education Annual 7: 73. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  10. 10.0 10.1 King, Diane A. (1979). A history of Gratz College, 1893-1928. Dropsie University: ubpublished doctoral dissertation. p. 163.
  11. "Philadelphia Jewish Exponent". November 26, 1897.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Elster, Shulamith Reich. "Hebrew Teachers Colleges in the United States". Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  13. "Gratz College". Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  14. "Career Planning with a Holocaust and Genocide Studies Degree". Keene State College, University System of New Hampshire. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  15. "Interfaith Leadership (MA)". Retrieved 10 March 2018.

External linksEdit

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