Submitted by Etz Chaim

In a program open to the community, the Education Committee of Congregation Etz Chaim will host Dr. Gary Zola, speaking about the history of the Cincinnati Jewish community. Dr. Zola is an internationally-recognized Jewish historian, and well known in the Cincinnati Jewish community for his expertise in American Jewish history. Dr. Zola has titled his presentation, “A Sort of Paradise for the Hebrews: Jews and Judaism in the Queen City of the West.” This live, in-person program starts at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 29th, and is free of charge.

Cincinnati has been referred to as the home of reform Judaism, and has also been called “the center of American life.” According to Dr. Zola, “…Jewish life in Cincinnati has significantly influenced the development of American Jewry as a whole.”

Dr. Zola was ordained in 1982, and earned his Ph.D. in American Jewish History in 1991. In 1998, he became the second director of the American Jewish Archives (AJA), and has remained in that position. His particular interest has been in 19th Century American Judaism. His publications are numerous. On three separate occasions, he was appointed by the President of the United States to serve as a member of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad. This commission was established by Public Law in 1985 to protect and preserve cemeteries, monuments, and historic buildings associated with the foreign heritage backgrounds of the U.S. public.

Prior to this appointment, he founded the Commission for Commemorating 350 Years of American Jewish History in 2004-2005. He was also the first American Jewish historian appointed to the congressional Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.

Not only has Dr. Zola been active nationally, he has been recognized for his public and philanthropic endeavors locally. Just a few of his multitude of awards include the Martin Luther King, Jr. Legacy Award from the National Underground Freedom Center, and the Bishop Herbert Thompson, Jr. Outstanding Humanitarian Award from the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission. The Jewish Federation of Cincinnati noted his extensive service to the local Jewish community by bestowing upon him its Distinguished Leadership Award.

Congregation Etz Chaim is a conservative, egalitarian congregation that engages each individual in a life-long Jewish journey. We embrace diverse experiences that span both traditional and contemporary ideas while learning and pursuing spiritual growth. Please contact the synagogue for more information.