Spertus Institute in Chicago
Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies is a leading center for Jewish learning and culture in Chicago, Illinois. Not affiliated with any single branch of Judaism, Spertus offers opportunities for people of all backgrounds to learn about and explore the Jewish experience. Its main campus is located at 610 S. Michigan Avenue in an award-winning facility designed by Chicago’s Krueck and Sexton Architects. Spertus offers graduate degrees in Jewish Studies, Jewish Education, and Nonprofit Management (accredited by North Central Association of Colleges and Schools), as well as a range of public educational and cultural programs including lectures, exhibits, live performances, and film. The building also houses a 400-seat theater, space for community events, kosher catering facilities, and a book and gift shop.
Honorary degree recipients from 1949 to 2011 have included Rabbi Mordecai M. Kaplan, the Hon. Abba Eban, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, author, Nobel Laureate, and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, author Isaac Bashevis Singer, author and feminist Betty Friedan, actor Leonard Nimoy, and Hazzan Alberto Mizrahi.
Spertus opened an award-winning, new, environmentally sustainable facility at 610 S. Michigan Avenue in November 2007. Designed by Chicago-based Krueck and Sexton Architects, the building features interconnected interior spaces and one-of-a-kind, ten-story faceted window wall that provides spectacular views of the Chicago skyline, Grant Park, and Lake Michigan. This window wall is built from 726 individual pieces of glass in 556 different shapes.
Like the surrounding buildings, many constructed in the period of architectural innovation that followed the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, this building is forward-looking in its design and use of materials, while maintaining respect for its important setting. Like the bays of its 19th- and 20th-century neighbors, the facets that create the façade’s dynamic crystalline form allow light to extend into the narrow building, while expanding the views enjoyed from inside. The geometry of the façade is unique because the surface is constantly tilting in three dimensions, resulting in individual units of glass that are parallelograms rather than rectangles. At the same time, the average size of each of the façade's individual panes of glass is consistent with the standard size of the windows in the buildings up and down Michigan Avenue.
The Spertus building was the first new construction in the Historic Michigan Boulevard District after the area was designated a Chicago Landmark in 2002. The cost of the Spertus project was more than $50 million.
Faculty and management
Dr. Hal M Lewis is the eighth President and Chief Executive Officer of Spertus, installed in 2009. An expert in Jewish leadership, he is the author of From Sanctuary to Boardroom: A Jewish Approach to Leadership and Models and Meanings in the History of Jewish Leadership . Dr. Lewis has a DJS from Spertus.
Dr. Dean P. Bell is Dean and Chief Academic Officer of Spertus. He has a PhD and MA from the University of California, Berkeley, and a BA from University of Chicago, and is the author of Jews in the Early Modern World .
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- Spertus Institute - official site