American Jewish University – Wikipedia

Private university in Los Angeles, California

American Jewish University (AJU), formerly the separate institutions University of Judaism and Brandeis-Bardin Institute, is a Jewish institution in Los Angeles, California.

Its largest component is its Whizin Center for Continuing Education in which 12,000 students are enrolled annually in non-credit granting courses. Classes, lectures, author events, concerts and performances are offered daytime and evening for all ages of the community.

AJU’s academic division includes the College of Arts and Sciences, leading to a B.A. degree in majors such as Biology & Bioethics (pre-med), Business Administration & Innovation, Media Arts, Jewish Studies, Politics & Global Studies, and Psychology. In addition, AJU offers graduate degrees through the Fingerhut School of Education, The David L. Lieber Graduate School, and the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, a Conservative Jewish rabbinical seminary. AJU is host to the Miller Introduction to Judaism Program, which prepares students to convert to Judaism and engages interfaith couples and families, as well as three “think tanks”: the Institute on American Jewish-Israel Relations, and the Sigi Ziering Institute for Exploring the Ethical and Religious Implications of the Holocaust and the Center for Policy Options. At its Brandeis-Bardin Campus, the University oversees Camp Alonim, Gan Alonim Day Camp and the BCI Program.


The University of Judaism was founded in 1947. The spiritual founder was Dr. Mordecai Kaplan, a Jewish thinker and philosopher whose goal was to create an institution representing the diversity of Judaic expression in the United States. Another co-founder was Rabbi Jacob Pressman.[1] Initially a project of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City and the Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Los Angeles, the UJ became an independent institution in the 1970s. It became officially non-denominational with the ascension to the presidency of Dr. Robert Wexler (1992-2018) at the beginning of his tenure. Dr. Wexler was preceded in the presidency by Dr. Simon Greenberg (1947–1963) and Dr. David Lieber (1963–1992). The current president is Dr. Jeffrey Herbst (2018–present).[2]

In March 2007, officials from both the University of Judaism and the Brandeis-Bardin Institute, an education and camping organization in Simi Valley, announced the two parties would merge into a new organization called the American Jewish University.[3]

Campus resources and facilities[edit]

The American Jewish University campus in Bel Air, California is home to the Ostrow Library, which contains over 120,000 volumes, electronic resources, and contains one of the West Coast’s largest collections of Judaica.[4] The campus also includes the Gindi Auditorium, a 475-seat theatre featuring concerts, celebrations, and other programs. The campus also includes dormitories and a recently completed student union with fitness facilities, a basketball court, and grass field.[citation needed]

American Jewish University’s Brandeis-Bardin campus is located in Simi Valley, California and is home to Camp Alonim and the BCI Program, as well as “experiential learning” programs like the Jene Fellowship. The campus is also a retreat and conference center.

Art galleries[edit]

The Marjorie and Herman Platt Gallery and Borstein Art Gallery play host to many major exhibitions, both of Jewish and non-Jewish art. Past artists at the Platt Gallery have included David Hockney, Jim Dine and Frank Stella as well as works by the Gallery’s donor, Herman Platt. The Smalley Sculpture Garden on the campus grounds has a collection that includes the work of well-known contemporary sculptors. Dedicated in 1981, the sculptures include works by Beverly Pepper, Sol LeWitt, George Rickey, Jenny Holzer, Anthony Caro and George Rickey.[citation needed]

Undergraduate study[edit]

The College of Arts and Sciences[edit]

American Jewish University, Bel Air

The College of Arts and Sciences was the program of undergraduate study at AJU. It was announced in October, 2018 that the university will close the undergraduate program.

The academic program itself at the College granted the Bachelor of Arts degree. The core curriculum provided foundational knowledge in the Liberal Arts with a focus on social justice and ethical leadership, consisting of the study of Western and Jewish civilization, psychology, sociology, science, math, writing, and public speaking. Several academic majors and minors were offered including:

Biology & Bioethics (including Pre-Med), Business Administration & Innovation, Jewish Studies, Media Arts, Politics & Global Studies, and Psychology

The College also permitted students to design individualized programs of study in consultation with their academic advisor. The College encouraged students to take leadership roles both on campus and in social, political, and religious work in the greater Los Angeles area.

Student life[edit]

The American Jewish University was home to an active undergraduate student life. Students were encouraged to participate in student organizations in order to enrich their undergraduate experience. If a student determined that an organization they might be interested in was not yet established, students were welcome to establish new clubs and receive funding based upon student support and need.

Student organizations included: the ASAJU (Student Government), Bio-Ethics Association, Hillel, Honor Society, Israel Action, Model United Nations, Political Science Association, Peer Mentoring Program, Psychology Association, Sports Club, and Tikkun Olam (Social Action).

Graduate study[edit]

The Graduate School of Nonprofit Management[edit]

The Graduate School of Nonprofit Management offers a customized Master of Business Administration degree in Nonprofit Management.

The Graduate Center for Jewish Education[edit]

The Fingerhut School of Education offers both a full and part-time Master of Arts in Education (MAEd), a half-time Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT), a Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education (MAEd ECE) and a dual MAEd and MBA in Nonprofit Management degree. In addition, the Graduate Center for Jewish Education offers various certificate and continuing education initiatives for experienced educators.

The Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies[edit]

In addition to Rabbinic ordination recognized by the Rabbinical Assembly of Conservative Judaism, the Ziegler School offers programs culminating in the awarding of a Master of Arts in Rabbinic Studies. This degree may be combined with the M.A.Ed. or M.B.A. programs. The Ziegler School also encompasses the Miller Introduction to Judaism Program, which supports those who are considering converting to Judaism, as well as Jews who wish to reconnect with their heritage.

Continuing Education[edit]

AJU offers many programs of study through its Whizin Center for Continuing Education. These studies most often take the form of individual classes generally taken simply for personal enjoyment and edification. Classes are offered in language studies, Jewish studies, literature, fine arts, dance and fitness, performance arts, and other varied areas. One of its largest programs is the annual Public Lecture Series held at Universal Studios’ Gibson Amphitheater and is attended by five to six thousand series ticket holders. Featured speakers have included President Bill Clinton, Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright and Colin Powell, as well as Israeli Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Shimon Peres.


Notable faculty and staff[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°07′40.18″N 118°28′17.95″W / 34.1278278°N 118.4716528°W / 34.1278278; -118.4716528