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Bennett Center For Judaic Studies
The Bennett Center for Judaic Studies is a unique academic center that strives to enrich the intellectual, cultural, and spiritual dialogue of Fairfield University. Continuing the vision of Carl and Dorothy Bennett, the Center fosters continued learning experiences and campus-wide awareness about Jewish history, ethical values, and religious observances. It also seeks to engage the Greater Fairfield communities through inspiring lectures and annual programs. The Bennett Center works in collaboration with the Judaic Studies program, the Center for Catholic Studies, Campus Ministry, local Jewish community organizations, the Quick Center, and more.
The Center receives financial support from numerous generous individuals and foundations, including the Carl and Dorothy Bennett Foundation, the Adolph and Ruth Schnurmacher Foundation, Larry Roberts and Suzanne Novik, Andrew and Robert Feigenson and family, David and Edith Chaifetz, and the Frank Jacoby Foundation maintained by Debby and David Zieff. Through these gifts, the Bennett Center has brought world-renowned lecturers to the University, including Pulitzer Prize finalist Nathan Englander; The New York Times Op-Ed columnist and author, Tom Friedman; Rabbi and theologian Yitz Greenberg; lawyer and activist Khizr Khan; American diplomat and author Dennis Ross; American Jewish historian, Jonathan Sarna; former US Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro; Meet the Press moderator, Chuck Todd; painter, sculptor, and photorealist, Audrey Flack; and Nobel Peace Prize winner and author, Elie Wiesel.
From the establishment of the Chair in Judaic Studies to an annual service in remembrance of the Holocaust, the Bennett Center for Judaic Studies has established a permanent and growing reputation in the Fairfield County community - reaching out to its 70,000 Jewish residents and neighbors - as well as to many others. Through the Center, Fairfield University continues to be committed to building a bridge of understanding between the Jewish and Jesuit traditions.
KADIMA is Fairfield University's Jewish undergraduate club, under the guidance of Fairfield University’s Jewish Chaplain, Rabbi Jim Prosnit.
On September 1, 2022, Dr. Glenn Dynner will succeed Dr. Ellen M. Umansky as the Carl and Dorothy Bennett Professor of Judaic Studies and Director of the Bennett Center at Fairfield University. Since 2014, Dr. Dynner has served as Professor of Religion and Chair of the Religion Department at Sarah Lawrence College. He received his B.A. with honors in Comparative History from Brandeis University, an M.A. with honors from McGill University in Jewish Studies, and his PhD from Brandeis University in the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies in 2002. Dr. Dynner is the author of two acclaimed books published by Oxford University Press: Men of Silk: The Hasidic Conquest of Polish Jewish Society (2006), winner of the Koret Publication Prize and a National Jewish Book Award Finalist, and Yankel’s Tavern: Jews, Liquor, & Life in the Kingdom of Poland (2013), which received Honorable Mention for the 2013 Jordan Schnitzer Book Award. The author of numerous journal articles and essays in edited volumes, he is currently working on a book titled The Light of Learning: The Hasidic Revival in Poland on the Eve of the Holocaust. Recipient of a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship in 2019-2020, he was Associate Editor of the journal, Jewish History from 2016-2018 and currently serves as co-editor of Shofar: A Journal of Interdisciplinary Jewish Studies. Glenn Dynner is a member of the Scholarly Advisory Board of the YIVO Institute and is the YIVO Representative on the Center for Jewish History’s Academic Advisory Council. He is a member of The Academic Advisory Board of the Yale Fortunoff Archive and serves on the Editorial Boards of POLIN and East European Jewish Affairs. He and his family live in Stamford, Connecticut.
DOUG KARP is the managing partner of Pacific Partners, a private equity and advisory firm focused on healthcare innovation. His professional background includes founding Tailwind Capital, serving as a member of Operating Committee of Warburg, Pincus and as managing director of Salomon Brothers. He is a founding director of Horizons National (educational opportunity), served as chair of Morningside Nursing Home (Bronx, NY) and as a director of the City Parks Foundation.
Sheila L. Romanowitz
Sheila L. Romanowitz has worked in Jewish communal service for much of her adult life. She served as Executive Director, Office of the President and Chair of the Board at UJA-Federation of New York; COO at UJA Federation of Greenwich; and Executive Director of the United Jewish Federation of Stamford. For her work in promoting interdenominational understanding and communication, she was honored with the Young Israel of Stamford's Community Service Award and received recognition from a uniquely pluralistic Board of Rabbis. Together with her late husband, Dr. Harry S. Romanowitz, she received the Daniel R. Ginsburg Humanitarian Award from the ADL and the Heritage Award from the Jewish Historical Society. A resident of Connecticut for the past 45 years, she currently serves on the Board of SilverSource, a leading resource for older adults.
Peter Willner, EdD
Peter Willner has devoted his professional career to serving as an advocate for education, civil rights, and philanthropy. He was founding Executive Director of Cooperative Educational Services (CES), a public-school Regional Education Service Center in Fairfield County, and in 1987 transitioned his career to join UJA-Federation of New York as its Executive Director for Organization & Development. In 1991, he became the Anti-Defamation League’s chief operating officer responsible for overseeing its administrative and all fundraising operations. Most recently, until his retirement, Peter served as the National Executive Director and CEO for the American Friends of Hebrew University (AFHU). Today, he manages JANID Advisors, a boutique consulting firm specializing in non-profit management and fundraising. He is a member of the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation, a Trustee of the Town of Fairfield Library, on the Congregation Beth El Board and a member of the National Executive Service Corps Board of Directors.