A $1 million donation from the Diamond Foundation to the University of British Columbia will expand Jewish studies programming in the classroom and beyond the UBC campus.
The funds will help bring in speakers from all over the world, enable students to engage directly with world-renowned visiting scholars, and support academic study and research abroad.
The donation augments the Diamond Chair in Jewish Law and Ethics, created in 2001 from an endowment through the Family Foundation, a leader in Vancouver’s philanthropic community.
“The Diamond Foundation’s endowment of the Diamond Chair has enabled UBC scholars to gain insight and understanding of how Jewish law and ethics are manifest in the modern world,” said Gage Averill, dean of UBC’s faculty of arts. “This renewed commitment by the foundation helps our students and the community enrich their knowledge through courses, public talks, events and visiting scholars.”
Associate professor Gregg E. Gardner has been the Diamond Chair since 2011, focusing his research on the history of Jewish thought. In the classroom, he and students have explored the rich history of religions and their modern contexts, diving deep into Jewish history, texts and traditions.
In 2018, Gardner partnered with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to lead a group of UBC students in an archeological field school at the site of Horvat Midras, Israel. They helped excavate a monumental pyramid that marked a tomb from the first century, and an elaborate underground system of tunnels and caves that served as hideouts for Jewish rebels against Rome in the second century.
The Diamond Foundation’s most recent gift will further Gardner’s outreach locally and internationally, which has included public talks at Hillel BC and academic lectures at Cambridge and Yale universities. The public will benefit from an enriched program of lectures, roundtables and other events.
“The Diamond Foundation has once again taken a leading role in furthering Jewish studies, inspiring Vancouver’s Jewish communities and enriching the Jewish experience for all. This amazing gift will help build UBC’s leadership in the field for years to come,” said Gardner.