By: Robert Sobus, Contributing Writer
Through Judaic studies programs and cultural events, the Baltimore Hebrew Institute at Towson University is fostering an understanding of the Jewish community at Towson and preparing students for life after college.
“The Baltimore Hebrew Institute has three main things that it does,” said Hana Bor, the program director for the Leadership in Jewish Education and Communal Service graduate programs. “It supports the students that are taking courses in the program of Jewish Studies. It helps students get scholarships and fellowships, and also sponsors events that bring speakers onto campus to discuss diverse topics.”
For 90 years, the Baltimore Hebrew University was located in northwest Baltimore in Park Heights.
In 2009, the Baltimore Hebrew University and Towson University merged to form the Baltimore Hebrew Institute at Towson.
Towson University offers several master’s degrees, dual-degrees, and post-baccalaureate certificates through BHI. One of those program’s is BHI’s master’s degree program in Family Science and Leadership in Jewish Education and Communal Service, which allows students to earn both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in five years.
“I started my graduate courses during my senior year at Towson,” graduate student Stephanie Aseraph said. “I took nine graduate courses during my senior year and those counted towards my undergraduate credits. You’re condensing the amount of time to get your master’s degree because it goes along with the bachelor’s degree.”
In addition to what they offer academically, the BHI also focuses on community-building and cultural education
“BHI provides many community programs both at the University and with partners off-campus,” Baltimore Hebrew Institute Director Jill Max said. “Over the last eight years, we have hosted numerous scholarly lectures, movies, authors and other programs that range from Jewish history, to Modern Hebrew language instruction, to contemporary issues in the Jewish community and beyond. We are involved in President Schatzel’s diversity initiatives on campus as well.”
Towson University also helps further the BHI’s efforts and resources. Cook Library showcases numerous Judaic books and artifacts, one of the largest university collections of Jewish studies materials in the mid-Atlantic region.
Becky Berger, who is finishing a master’s degree in Leadership with a concentration in Jewish Education, emphasizes the amount of resources and services the University provides.
“[Towson offers] lots of personal care,” Berger said. “My academic advisor, Dr. Hana Bor is wonderful. She takes really good care of students. We have seminars, guest speakers, career mentorship, scholarships and study abroad opportunities. There are lots of resources.”
Bor said students can look forward to promising job prospects after graduating.
“Our students find jobs 100 percent of the time after graduation,” Bor said. “I am very proud of our students.”
For some, the BHI is more than a support system for academic studies.
“BHI is like family,” Aseraph said. “The professors cared for us, most students knew one another, and we would work together so that we could see each other succeed.”