Director of Judaic Studies is named the first 'Woman of Distinction' by the Women's Auxiliary of the Jewish Home for the Elderly of Fairfield County

Image: Ellen UmanskyThe Women's Auxiliary of the Jewish Home for the Elderly of Fairfield County will honor Ellen Umansky, Ph.D., director of the Judaic Studies Program at Fairfield University and the Carl and Dorothy Bennett Professor of Judaic Studies, at its 35th Annual Spring Luncheon on Monday, June 2, 2003. The event, which includes a silent auction and raffle, will take place at the Rolling Hills Country Club in Wilton, Conn., at 10:30 a.m.

Honoring Dr. Umansky as the 2003 Woman of Distinction will initiate a new tradition for the Annual Spring Luncheon, of paying tribute to women whose contributions to the community transcend cultures, inspire future leaders and impact the lives of both young and old. As keynote speaker, Dr. Umansky will share her views on the roles and opportunities for Jewish women in today's Jewish community and help audience members better understand the history of Jewish women since the early 1900's.

"This recognition of my efforts over the past nine years surprised, thrilled, and deeply moved me," Dr. Umansky said. "I am especially pleased to be honored by the Women's Auxiliary of the Jewish Home for the Elderly, which has done, and continues to do, so much for so many. It exemplifies that about which I plan to speak at the luncheon, namely the important contribution of women to Jewish communal life."

Lynne M. Weiss, president of the JHE Women's Auxiliary, said, "We are thrilled that Dr. Umansky will be our first Woman of Distinction. She characterizes the strength of today's Jewish woman."

Dr. Umansky is the author of many books and essays on women in Judaism, Jewish theology, and modern Jewish history and thought.

Dr. Umansky's recent works include the co-edited Four Centuries of Jewish Women's Spirituality, A Sourcebook and she is currently completing the book, From Christian Science to Jewish Science, Spiritual Healing and American Jews.

Dr. Umansky received her Ph.D. in religion from Columbia University in 1981. Since then she has taught at various institutions including Princeton University, Vassar College and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. She has also served as a Teaching Fellow for the Wexner Heritage Foundation and a Teaching Associate of CLAL, the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. Currently, she serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion and on the Academic Advisory Boards of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City and the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives.

The Women's Auxiliary was founded in 1968 to provide financial support for programming to benefit the 360 residents of the Jewish Home for the Elderly. Proceeds from previous events have funded the renovation and remodeling of various units throughout JHE, including a state of the art Special Care Unit for individuals suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. In addition, over $1 million has been placed in an Endowment Fund, which helps to perpetuate programs of excellence and sets JHE apart from other long-term care facilities. More than 300 women are expected to attend this year's Spring Luncheon, heralding three decades of steadfast devotion to the residents of the home.

JHE is a preeminent and nationally recognized long-term care facility in Fairfield County. It has been awarded Accreditation with Commendation from the Joint Comission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647,

Posted on May 21, 2003

Vol. 35, No. 290

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