News & Features

Fontbonne Honors Jewish Community Leader

Fontbonne University has recognized Batya Abramson-Goldstein, executive director of St. Louis' Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), for her collaboration and inspiration during an expansive academic undertaking at the university last fall. The JCRC is an agency of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis.

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Abramson-Goldstein received the newly established Jason Sommer Dedicated Semester Award during Fontbonne's academic convocation Aug. 27. The award honors an individual who has been integral in the success of what the university calls its dedicated semester, an effort launched last fall with the inaugural topic of "Judaism and Its Cultures." Throughout the fall semester, the school focused on this theme through a variety of course offerings, activities, speakers, book readings and more.

"Fontbonne University's dedicated semester was a creative and effective vehicle for enhancing the understanding of Judaism on its campus and for building meaningful connections between the campus and the Jewish community in St. Louis," Abramson-Goldstein said. "I believe deeply in the importance of building bridges between communities. I am, therefore, humbled and greatly honored by being recognized as the first recipient of this award, named in honor of Dr. Sommer, for whom I have the deepest admiration."

Sommer is a current Fontbonne professor of English and the university's poet-in-residence. He was instrumental in the planning and implementation of last fall's dedicated semester.

"The inaugural dedicated semester was transformative in nature," said Dr. Dennis Golden, Fontbonne president. "This was a major first step in our effort to pursue additional endeavors of inter-religious and intercultural understanding."

The comprehensive effort was felt across campus and beyond, according to Dr. Nancy Blattner, Fontbonne vice president and dean for academic affairs. "Through courses and events, both on and off campus, we reached more than 3,500 students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members," she said.

"Batya played a significant, hands-on role in many of the events last fall and continues as a good friend to Fontbonne University," Blattner continued. "We are delighted she is our first recipient of this award."

Fontbonne's dedicated semester for the fall 2008 term is "Goals for World Change," a theme that focuses on the United Nations' efforts to combat poverty, hunger, child mortality, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination against women.

Pictured, from left, Dr. Nancy Blattner, Dr. Jason Sommer, Batya Abramson-Goldstein, Dr. Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz, academic convocation speaker, and Dr. Dennis Golden.

Find out more about the dedicated semester.