Scholar-in-Residence with Rabbi Dr. Gary Zola

22 Feb @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Please join us when we welcome Dr. Gary P. Zola, Executive Director Emeritus of The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati, for two scholar-in-residence programs on Thursday and Friday, February 22-23 at the Temple.

During the first learning session on Thursday, February 22 at 7 p.m., Dr. Zola will examine “George Washington, Jews, and the Story of Religious Freedom in America.” To celebrate the 292nd anniversary of President Washington’s birth, Dr. Zola will provide our community with an opportunity to take a deep dive into Washington’s most famous letter to the Jewish community.

President George Washington’s letter to the Jews of Congregation Yeshuat Israel (a.k.a. “Touro Synagogue”), Newport, Rhode Island – written in 1790 – famously promised that the United States would be a nation that “gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance. Washington reassured the Jews of Newport that, in his opinion, the new Constitution guaranteed every religion in America – including Judaism – “full and equal membership” in the nation’s polity.

This dynamic text-study constitutes a special opportunity to learn more about the history of this well-known letter which was written more than 233 years ago. We will discover why Washington’s letter has much to teach us about the history of religious freedom in America.

Dr. Zola also will speak during our Shabbat service on Friday, February 23 at 7:30 p.m. on “’The Future of The Past:’ The Meaning of our 175th Anniversary,” an inspiring look at the significance of milestone anniversaries in Jewish life. Join us in person or on YouTube. An Oneg Shabbat will follow.

As Congregation Achduth Vesholom celebrates 175 years of continuous existence, Dr. Zola will help us to reflect on the historical lessons we derive from the congregation’s remarkable longevity and durability. What traits and impulses have our predecessors bequeathed to us, and how will these characteristics strengthen us as we confront the daunting and worrisome challenges we face in our own day and age? Dr. Zola will offer us an inspiring message in response to these important questions.

Dr. Gary Phillip Zola served as the executive director of The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives (AJA) from 1998 through June of 2023.  Currently, Dr. Zola maintains his faculty status as the Edward M. Ackerman Family Distinguished Professor of the American Jewish Experience & Reform Jewish History at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR).

He has been honored with national appointments, including being selected by President Biden in 2023 as a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. Notably, in April 2011, President Obama appointed Dr. Zola to the Commission on the Preservation of American Heritage Abroad, marking a historic moment as the first faculty member of Hebrew Union College to receive such recognition from a U.S. president. Further, in 2006, Dr. Zola achieved groundbreaking milestones by becoming the inaugural American Jewish historian and the first American rabbi appointed to the Academic Advisory Council of the congressionally recognized Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.

Thank you to the Dr. Harry W. Salon Foundation and our 175th Anniversary sponsors for their support of Dr. Zola’s visit.