Graduate Theological Union Honors Taube Family Foundation

Graduate Theological Union Honors Taube Family Foundation

Commemorating an Impactful and Longstanding Partnership

On a sunny Thursday in late September, GTU President Uriah Kim, together with leaders of the GTU’s Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies, members of the GTU Board of Trustees, students, faculty, and executive leadership welcomed the Taube Family Foundation to North Berkeley to celebrate and commemorate the Foundation’s partnership with the GTU, which has spanned more than two decades. In that time, the impact of their collaboration has been broad and deep, supporting essential research, courses, and public programming for the work of Jewish studies and interreligious dialogue, including the recent establishment of the Taube Family Chair in Jewish Studies, and Taube Family Fellowship supporting students of the GTU’s Interreligious Chaplaincy Program (ICP). 

Tad Taube, Chairman and Founder of Taube Philanthropies, and Executive Director Shana Penn toured the recently completed Taube Conference Center and Collaborative Learning Space, a state-of-the-art learning facility on the second floor of the GTU’s prestigious Hewlett Building, before joining guests for festivities in the newly redesigned Boardroom on the building’s third floor. 

“The GTU’s academic programs are of the highest caliber, complemented by a stunning campus,” said Tad Taube. “We are proud to support organizations and institutions around the world that may approach research and learning from different perspectives and disciplines but share a commitment to excellence and to the well-being of our diverse human community.” 

Shana Penn added, “We hope that Taube Family Foundation’s support will encourage awareness and enhance access to the GTU’s programs nationally and internationally.” 

The event began with a welcome from Dr. Deena Aranoff, Director of the Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies, who noted, “There has not been one year in my time at the GTU [since 2006] in which Taube Family Foundation support has not been critical in furthering the vision of the GTU." 

Dr. Sam Shonkoff, Taube Family Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies, offered a lecture titled “The German-Jewish Philosopher Martin Buber’s Polish-Jewish Identity,” in which he reflected upon the dynamics of Eastern and Western European Jewish culture as expressed in the figure of Martin Buber. Dr. Shonkoff expressed his sincere gratitude for the honor of being the first to hold the Taube Family Chair in Jewish Studies.  

Dr. Kamal Abu-Shamsieh, Director of the Interreligious Chaplaincy Program (ICP), also expressed his gratitude to Taube Family Foundation for their support of the ICP’s work, before sharing his vision for the program’s future. This vision includes developing an even broader global presence, increasing faculty resources to match the growing student population, and continuing the important work of nurturing aspiring spiritual caregivers who work in a variety of contexts. One example offered was Dr. Abu-Shamsieh's work with groups in Israel and Palestine, which he hopes to continue.  

Taube Family Jewish Studies Fellow Linda Oberstein reflected on her experience in the program and the important contributions to spiritual caregiving she feels she is now able to provide to her patients as a result of her studies at the GTU, as supported by Taube Family Foundation. Bruce Feldstein, a member of the ICP Advisory Committee, honored his friend Tad Taube’s encouragement in helping him to realize his purpose as a Jewish chaplain.  

GTU President Uriah Kim concluded the event by offering his gratitude for the Taube Foundation. “Taube Family Foundation has served as a treasured partner to the GTU, and especially to the Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies, in helping us to realize the vision of what education rooted in interreligious and interdisciplinary dialogue can achieve.” 

In honor and recognition of Taube Family Foundation’s longstanding support, President Kim proudly presented a commemorative plaque to Taube Family Foundation on behalf of the GTU. 

The GTU is particularly proud to celebrate its partnership with Taube Family Foundation at this time, concurrent with the launch of its 60th anniversary celebration. It is a milestone to which Taube Family Foundation has contributed so much in its support of GTU over the years. As the GTU looks ahead to its next 60 years, the scholarship and programming made possible by this partnership and celebrated in this event is already serving as a model for the GTU’s future contributions in the areas of interreligious and interdisciplinary dialogue.