Brandeis Alumni, Family and Friends

Barry Shrage, Renowned Leader in Jewish Community Life, to Join Brandeis

March 26, 2018

Photo of Jewish community leader Barry Shrage.

Brandeis University is very pleased to announce the appointment of Barry Shrage as Professor of the Practice in the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program.

One of America’s foremost Jewish leaders, Shrage has for the past 30 years served with distinction as president of Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston and as a powerful voice on the American Jewish communal scene. He is known in Boston and throughout the world for his tireless support of Jewish education; his promotion of engagement by religious and nonreligious Jews; his commitment to working for social justice at home and abroad alongside others; his strong support of Israel; his bridge-building, outreach and engagement with the non-Jewish community in creative partnerships; and for his boundless energy and creativity. 

Shrage’s appointment underscores Brandeis’ longstanding commitment to serving the Jewish community. “Brandeis was founded 70 years ago, in 1948, by the American Jewish community, the same year as the State of Israel,” said President Ron Liebowitz. “As a pre-eminent center for Jewish thought and learning, Brandeis is proud of its roots and is committed to advancing Jewish studies. Barry is a transformational leader. What he achieved at CJP over 30 years is stunning. Not only did he raise $1 billion, he also championed the next generation of Jewish leaders; he promoted innovation and exchanges; and he helped to reinvigorate and lead one of the most important Jewish communities in America. We are delighted that he will bring that same energy, idealism and drive to Brandeis, where we are committed to reaffirming and strengthening our distinguished Jewish academic and research programs.”

At Hornstein, Shrage will train and mentor students and help further Hornstein’s role as the premier training ground for future Jewish professional leaders. “We are thrilled to have Barry Shrage sharing his experience, wisdom and vision with our students,” said University Professor Jonathan D. Sarna, chair of the Hornstein Program. “Barry has been a truly extraordinary Jewish leader in Boston, and we expect him to teach our students how to follow in his footsteps.” 

Shrage will also lead a new initiative on Jewish identity that will draw on Brandeis’ deep strength in the study of Jewish life to develop innovative programming for teaching and engaging members of the Jewish community. The Initiative for Jewish Identity (IJI) will be housed at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies (CMJS)/Steinhardt Social Research Institute (SSRI). CMJS/SSRI is the pre-eminent academic center for the social scientific study of contemporary Jewry.  As Professor Leonard Saxe, center director, noted, “Barry’s presence will enhance our ability to share cutting-edge research with practitioners and help ensure that our studies address pressing issues for the Jewish community.” Generous funding from a consortium of donors will support the IJI’s launch.

Shrage intends to strengthen ties both between the Jewish community and Brandeis, and between Brandeis and Israel, and to harness the university’s remarkable Jewish studies resources for the betterment of Jewish life locally, nationally and globally. Generous donors have made this appointment and initiative at Brandeis possible.

“Brandeis is a unique and very special institution,” Shrage said. “As President Liebowitz reasserts Brandeis’ role as a global center of scholarship on Judaism, it is an honor to accept this faculty appointment and to join with others in advancing Brandeis as a pre-eminent intellectual center for the Jewish people and the world.”

After graduating from the City College of New York, Shrage earned a master’s degree in social work from Boston University. In 2017, Brandeis awarded him an Honorary Degree, citing his “passion, indefatigable encouragement of others’ intellectual and spiritual growth, and abiding interest in repairing the world.”