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John Carroll University announces the appointment of Noah Benjamin Bickart, PhD, as the inaugural Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Chair in Jewish Studies following a national search. Dr. Bickart originally joined John Carroll’s Theology and Religious Studies Department in 2018, most recently serving as visiting assistant professor. 


The appointment is made possible by a $1.5 million gift from the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Supporting Foundation announced in January. The endowment is also supported by a $1 million gift from The Milton and Tamar Maltz Family Foundation and a very generous lead gift from JCU alumnus Norma Geller, an early advocate of the University’s efforts to create the opportunity. John Carroll’s Theology and Religious Studies Department also includes the Jack and Mary Jane Breen Chair in Catholic Theology, the Bediüzzaman Said Nursi Chair in Islamic Studies, and the Walter and Mary Tuohy Chair of Interreligious Studies, which laid the foundation for a commitment to interreligious dialogue when it was established more than 50 years ago.


“Noah’s appointment is a further signal of John Carroll’s commitment to interreligious dialogue,” said Alan R. Miciak, PhD, president of John Carroll University. “We are fortunate to welcome a scholar of his stature and ability to this newly formed position. In doing so, our goal is always to provide JCU students with opportunities to understand and contemplate our complex world in order to better impact it after graduation.”


Dr. Jehuda Reinharz, President and CEO of the Mandel Foundation, added, “I am delighted that such a distinguished educator as Noah Bickart has been selected to hold the endowed chair bearing the names of Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel. This appointment will enable Dr. Bickart to continue to be an important voice for the field of Jewish Studies.”


Milton Maltz commented, “Tamar and I are very pleased that Dr. Bickart has been selected as the inaugural Mandel Chair in Jewish Studies. His extensive academic experience and commitment to foster connections with the local Jewish community and to promote greater interreligious understanding on campus and in the greater Cleveland community make him the ideal scholar to be appointed to the position”.  

Bickart added, “I am deeply honored to be the first holder of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Chair in Jewish Studies, and to see John Carroll University, in cooperation with the Mandel and Maltz families, deepen its commitment to the study of Jews and Judaism. I look forward to teaching our students about the fascinating world of Rabbinic Judaism in late antiquity, especially in comparison with Christian texts and ideas from the same times and places.”


Bickart holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of Chicago, where he focused on Jewish themes in the works of James Joyce. He also studied Bible, Talmud, and Midrash at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. Upon his return to America, he enrolled at the Harvard Divinity School, earning a Master’s degree in Hebrew Bible in 2003. The following year he entered Rabbinical School at The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) as a Wexner Graduate Fellow. After being ordained as a Conservative Rabbi in 2008, he remained at JTS for Doctoral work and received his PhD in 2015. After directing the Prozdor High School, directing the Eisenfeld/Duker Beit Midrash, and teaching Talmud in the Rabbinical School for a few years, he became the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Postdoctoral Fellow in the Program of Judaic Studies at Yale University.


As the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies, Bickart will further develop the Jewish studies curriculum; advance scholarship in Jewish Studies through research and publication; collaborate with the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, Campus Ministry, the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion, and other campus partners to promote interreligious understanding; develop both short- and long-term options for John Carroll students to visit and study in Israel; coordinate public lectures, panels, and other programming on subjects relating to Jewish Studies and contemporary issues of interest to the Jewish community; foster connections with local and regional Jewish communities; and support new undergraduate and graduate programs in Jewish Studies and interfaith engagement.