Stampfer professorship the stuff that dreams are made of
Author: Paul Haist, Jewish Review
Posted: October 18, 2010

Our community should take the deepest satisfaction and the greatest pride in all that has been achieved with the creation of the Israel studies professorship at Portland State University named in honor of Rabbi Joshua Stampfer.

The Rabbi Stampfer Professor of Israel Studies position, announced Oct. 11 by the Harold Schnitzer Family Program in Judaic Studies at Portland State University, does more than establish PSU as a premier academic venue in Judaic and Israel studies and round out the academic team of a first-rate program.

It does more than testify to the leadership, generosity, understanding and commitment of those individuals who worked hardest and gave the most of themselves to make this moment a reality.

And it does more than memorialize the enlightened and visionary rabbi, scholar and gentlest of men for whom it is named.

There is more still.

It does more also than illuminate the academic inclusiveness and scholarly dedication of the increasingly distinguished institution of higher learning in the heart of our city that began as the scattered Vanport Extension Center within the lifetime of many of us here.

It does yet more than distinguish our community, our city, our state and our region.

It does all those things, which, in an overused but apt phrase rooted in Aristotle, is greater than merely the sum of its parts.

A few have pointed out that the evolution of Judaic studies and now Israel studies at PSU has advanced with astonishing speed.

Who would have thought that in just the eight years since the Harold and Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation challenged the community with a $1 million grant to establish the Schnitzer Family Program at PSU that the program would have achieved such eminence: four tenure-track professors and the ability to offer a major in Judaic studies?

The vision of the Schnitzer family and of Lorry I. Lokey stand out now and will forever as shining milestones on the way to what has been achieved and what yet may come.

It was considerably longer ago than eight years that Rabbi Stampfer taught the first Judaic studies class at PSU in 1961—eight years after he arrived here, but certainly that moment also is no less a bright milestone on the way to where we are today and where we may be going.

We are forever indebted to such people, as we also are to the un-named others who over many decades built a community in which such dreams can come true.