American Jewish University held its 62nd graduation ceremony on Sunday, May 20, 2012, and the following evening, the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies ordained eight new Conservative rabbis at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles.
The Honorable Norman L. Eisen, United States Ambassador to the Czech Republic, delivered an inspiring commencement address, and honorary degrees were conferred upon Ambassador Eisen, as well as Jewish community activists Virginia Maas and Earl Greinetz. Ruben Arquilevich, Senior Director of the Union for Reform Judaism Newman Camp and Retreat Center, received the Mickey Weiss Award for Outstanding Alumni.
AJU's Ziegler School is one of two academic centers of Conservative/Masorti Judaism in North America and since 1996, it has ordained over 120 rabbis now serving across North America, Israel, and Africa. The school has established a reputation for training innovative rabbis that are both religious scholars and keen spiritual guides; and this year's class is no exception. It includes Elan Shlomo Babchuck, Sarah Beesom Barukh, Suzanne Amy Brody, Judi Ahavah Del Bourgo, Joseph Samuel Robinson, David Joshua Singer, Ronit Naomi Tsadok, and K'vod Devon Wieder.
Ambassador Eisen practiced law in Washington DC for over 18 years before joining the transitional team of then President-elect Barack Obama. In 2009, he was named Special Counsel for Ethics and Government Reform in the administration and became the first Ambassador to the Czech Republic nominated by President Obama.
Civic and Jewish community activist, Virginia Maas, has served as president of the Beverly Hills Board of Education and the Board of Trustees at Temple Beth Am. She chairs both the Jewish Federation Council's Campus Activities Committee and Education Committee, and serves on the boards of Beit T'Shuvah, Friends of Beverly Hills Library, Jewish Community Center Development Corp., and Jewish Community Centers Association. Ms. Maas has been on the board of American Jewish University since 1986, and over the years has held several chair positions. She is currently Co-Chair of AJU's Graduate Center for Education's Advisory Board.
Earl Greinetz has been actively involved with many nonprofits including the Jewish Home for the Aging, the Bureau of Jewish Education, the Masorti Foundation, Temple Ner Tamid, and the Alzheimer's Association, California Southland Chapter. He has been on American Jewish University's board for more than 20 years and currently serves on the following boards: the Valley's Jewish Federation, Providence Tarzana Hospital Foundation, New Community Jewish High School (one of ten founding members), ADL, Bureau of Jewish Education, WAIPAC, CSUN Jewish Studies Program, and the Jewish Home for the Aging.
Ruben Arquilevich has served as Senior Camp Director for the Union for Reform Judaism since 1994. He pioneered a vision of Jewish Camp as a year-round community for living Judaism that inspires young people to apply what they learn to their daily lives, and has trained numerous young adults into the field of Jewish Camp and Jewish Leadership. He graduated from American Jewish University in 1990 with an MBA from the Graduate School of Nonprofit Management.
American Jewish University has established itself as a center of scholarship in North America with its College of Arts and Sciences, Graduate School of Nonprofit Management, Graduate Center for Education, and Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies. Integrating Jewish with Western perspectives, American Jewish University strives to instill in its graduates ethics to govern a civil society and critical thinking skills necessary for today's leaders.