Fairfield University's Bennett Center presents scholar Gary P. Zola in talk entitled "He Was One of Us: American Jewry and the Idealization of Abraham Lincoln"


Image: Gary P. ZolaWho is America's greatest president? Gary P. Zola, Ph. D., an esteemed scholar who was appointed to a Congressional committee marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, believes the 16th president deserves that distinction. 

On Tuesday, October 13 at 7:30 p.m., he will speak at Fairfield University as part of the 2009 Judaic Studies Scholar-in-Residence program presented by Fairfield's Carl and Dorothy Bennett Center for Judaic Studies. His talk, entitled "He Was One of Us: American Jewry and the Idealization of Abraham Lincoln," is free and open to the public. It will take place in the Dolan School of Business Dining Room. Reservations are requested and can be made by calling (203) 254-4000, ext. 2066.

The two-day Judaic Studies Scholar-in-Residence program, made possible by a gift from David and Edith Chaifetz of Fairfield, Conn., will also include Dr. Zola meeting with students, faculty, rabbis and lay leaders.

Last year, Dr. Zola, a significant interpreter of the American Jewish experience, was appointed by Congress to the 15-member Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. The talk at Fairfield is considered part of his work on behalf of the commission's mission of celebrating the contribution of Lincoln's thoughts and ideals to the world.   

"(Lincoln) has often been called the Great Emancipator, and this is because of the pivotal role he played in both preserving and enlarging freedom and justice in the United States of America," said Dr. Zola, whose love of Lincoln was sparked while a boy growing up in Illinois, the ‘Land of Lincoln.' "All Americans are indebted to this extraordinary man who stood at the nation's helm during the stormiest of times."

Dr. Zola, who is also a rabbi, also served on another congressionally recognized committee from 2003 to 2006 when he chaired the Commission for Commemorating 350 Years of American Jewish History. He is the executive director of The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, the world's largest archival resource of its kind, and associate professor at Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio.

He is the author of the book, Isaac Harby of Charleston (University of Alabama Press, 1994), and has written numerous articles on an array of topics. An expert on the development of American Reform Judaism, he has been interviewed by The New York Times, Chicago Sun Times and ABC's Nightline, among other news organizations.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on September 23, 2009