California State University, Long Beach
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Group portrait around the table
Photos by Victoria Sanchez
At the signing were (l-r) Alan Ray, Chief Financial Officer for the University Foundation; President F. King Alexander; Barbara Alpert; Ray Alpert; and College of Liberal Arts' Dean Gerry Riposa.

Jewish Studies Program Receives
$1 Million For Barbara and Ray Alpert Endowed Chair

As testament to their commitment to the Jewish community and the study of its history and culture, Ray and Barbara Alpert have donated $1 million to CSULB's Jewish Studies Program in its College of Liberal Arts. The university has named an endowed chair in perpetuity in their honor.

The Barbara and Ray Alpert Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies will be an important asset for CSULB in cultivating the academic vitality and fiscal security that are essential to the Jewish Studies Program. By providing funds in perpetuity — to hire, retain and support a top professor specializing in the field — the endowed chair will help the university fulfill its mission of providing students with opportunities to study the entire breadth of the Jewish experience over the last four millennia.

"Ray and Barbara are champion advocates for the Jewish community and in developing through education awareness for Jewish culture and respect for its history," said CSULB President F. King Alexander. "Their generosity is a tribute to their commitment to expand the spectrum of knowledge of the Jewish community, and this gift will enable the university to make significant strides in building on the already renowned curriculum within the College of Liberal Arts."

Alpert & Alpert Iron & Metal, Inc., was launched in Los Angeles in the 1930s by brothers Herman and Mandel Alpert. Ray and his brother-in-law Jake Farber joined the business in the 1950s. By 1980, their sons Howard Farber and Alan Alpert had joined the company becoming the third generation in the business. The company is now a large non-ferrous metal recycling company that operates around the world.

Besides giving to the Jewish Studies Program at CSULB, the Alperts also help fund the Long Beach-based Alpert Jewish Community Center. The center provides programs and services that contribute to the development of individuals of all ages and offers opportunities to enhance an appreciation of Jewish and democratic values in Long Beach and West Orange County.

"The Jewish Studies Program is an important department for the university, one that can enhance the understanding of history, especially the Holocaust and its implications, as well as the study of language, ethics, and other related areas," said Ray Alpert."It's wonderful to contribute to a program that helps students understand and appreciate this great heritage, history and culture — a program that attracts students from all over the world. Our hope is that our contribution will further the growth of the program for the years to come. We are pleased to now be a part of this process."

Barbara and Ray Alpert in front of Brotman Hall

The Jewish Studies Program was established in 1998, expanded in 2002 to include both a major and a minor, and in 2006 the program launched CSULB's first Jewish studies scholarship. Today, under the leadership of co-directors Jeffrey Blutinger, an expert in 19th-century Jewish intellectual history, and Arlene Lazarowitz, a noted political historian and U.S. foreign relations expert, the program is widely recognized for its dedication to advancing interdisciplinary analysis of Jewish history, religion, thought, culture, and literature.The program also works with many Jewish organizations, such as the Long Beach Jewish Film Festival, The President's Forum on International Human Rights, local synagogues and other religious and cultural organizations.

At the heart of CSULB's mission is a responsibility to provide a large number of traditional and non-traditional students with a high-quality education that equips them for success in today's dynamic multicultural society. To do its part, the Jewish Studies Program offers 20-plus courses each year, hosts a thriving speakers' series, brings guest lecturers into classrooms, participates in various forums and organizes campus symposia.

"This gift will have a profound impact on the CSULB Jewish Studies Program. It will give the program a permanent anchor through the provision of an endowed chair," said Blutinger. "I am terribly excited at the prospect of expanding our program through the addition of new Jewish studies faculty, particularly, the opportunity to host on campus additional symposia that would benefit both the campus and the wider community."