2014 Honorary Degree Recipients

Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters

ruth calderonRuth Calderon is a visionary leader, scholar and political activist with a talent for engaging people both in Israel and the diaspora. A member of the Yesh Atid party, she was elected in 2013 to the Israeli 
Knesset. Her initial speech to that legislative body, replete with personal anecdotes and Talmudic quotations in a plea for mutual understanding and respect, became an Internet sensation and launched Calderon onto the world’s political stage.

Calderon currently serves as deputy chair of the Knesset, as well as a member of its education and state control committees. Aiming to anchor Israel’s democratic and Jewish values based on the Israeli declaration of independence, she initiated a constitutional law proposal that emphasizes equality, diversity and freedom of religion. At the Knesset, Calderon is chairperson and founder of the lobby for Jewish Renewal as well as the lobby for parliamentary culture. In addition, she is head of the Australia-Israel Friendship Association.

Calderon is one of Israel’s leading figures spearheading efforts to revive Hebrew culture and a pluralistic Israeli-Jewish identity. In 1989, she and an Orthodox colleague pioneered the establishment of the first Israeli secular, pluralistic, and egalitarian beit midrash for women and men. She went on to host a television show on classic and modern Jewish texts, and published several writings and books.

In 1996, Calderon founded ALMA, Home for Hebrew Culture, which serves as a cultural and study center for Jewish texts. ALMA offers programs with pluralistic insights to engage Jews worldwide in learning Hebrew culture in a respectful, open and cooperative environment. Calderon served as head of the cultural and education department at the Israeli National Library.

Calderon is the author of "A Bride for One Night: Talmud Tales," a personal homiletic reading of Talmudic legends, reprinted in English this year by the Jewish Publication Society. She received master’s and doctoral degrees in Talmudic literature from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and is a graduate of the first class of the Mandel School for Educational Leadership. In 2007, Calderon was awarded the Avi Chai Prize in recognition of her contributions to the propagation of the legacy of Israel.


Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters

rabbi zalman schachter-shalomiRabbi Zalman M. Schachter-Shalomi is widely recognized 
both as one of the most important Jewish spiritual teachers of our 
time and as the father of Jewish Renewal. 
His teachings incorporate wide-ranging knowledge of the spiritual technologies developed by peoples all over the planet.

Schachter-Shalomi shares his expertise of 
Hasidism and Kabbalah, as well as key ideas from Christian, Sufi, Hindu, Buddhist and Native American mentors. He is committed to a post-triumphalist, ecumenical and Gaian approach to religious and cultural life that honors the integrity of different wisdom traditions. As a teacher, pastor and prayer leader, he has inspired numerous individuals to actively engage in the revitalization of Jewish spiritual life through Torah study, prayer and meditation, and engagement in social and environmental issues.

Born in Zholkiew, Poland, in 1924 and raised in Vienna, Schachter-Shalomi was interned in detention camps under the Vichy French; his family fled the Nazi oppression, arriving in New York City in 1941. Schachter-Shalomi was ordained as a rabbi by HaBaD-Lubavitch in 1947; he later earned a master’s degree in psychology of religion from Boston University and a Doctor of Letters from Hebrew Union College. He is professor emeritus of religion at Temple University in Philadelphia and professor emeritus of religious studies and former world wisdom chair at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado.

Schachter-Shalomi has led a highly creative and productive life, founding both Aleph: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, and the Spiritual Eldering Institute, encouraging seniors to reflect on the spiritual dimensions of aging and to mentor younger adults. He has been a prolific writer, uniquely combining his own rich homiletical style with contemporary psychological and theological references. He has produced a large body of articles, books and audio and video recordings.

His many published works include "Spiritual Intimacy: A Study of Counseling in Hasidism" (Jason Aronson Inc., 1996); "Paradigm Shift" (Jason Aronson Inc., 2000); "Wrapped in a Holy Flame: Teachings and Tales of the Hasidic Masters" (Jossey-Bass, 2003); "Credo of a Modern Kabbalist," with Rabbi Daniel Siegel (Trafford Publishing, 2006); and "My Life in Jewish Renewal: A Memoir," with Edward Hoffman (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2012). In 2012, his book "Davening: A Guide to Meaningful Jewish Prayer" (Jewish Lights) won a National Jewish Book Award in the category of Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice.


Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters

alan solomontAlan D. Solomont has served 
since January as the Pierre and Pamela Omidyar Dean of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University. From 2009 to 2013, he was the U.S. ambassador to Spain and Andorra, working to strengthen Spain’s cooperation with the United States on matters of global security, advocating for American companies doing business in Spain, and supporting investment by Spanish companies in the United States. He and his wife, Susan Lewis, promoted the values of volunteering and citizen service throughout Spain.

A Prozdor alumnus, Solomont is committed to the Jewish people, a democratic Israel, and peace in the Middle East. He has chaired the boards of CJP of Greater Boston and Hebrew SeniorLife in Boston. The Jewish Fund for Justice, the Israel Policy Forum, the New Israel Fund, and Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly have also benefited from his leadership, wisdom, and philanthropy.

Prior to his diplomatic service, Solomont was an entrepreneur, philanthropist and political activist, serving as chairman of the bipartisan board of directors of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that oversees AmeriCorps, Learn and Serve America, Volunteers in Service to America, and Senior Corps.  

Solomont spent his professional career in the health and elder-care arenas. 
He was chairman of Solomont Bailis Ventures, investing in early-stage healthcare companies; a co-founder of HouseWorks, a home-care company that helps seniors remain independent and supports families caring for aging relatives; and a founder and managing director of Angel Healthcare Investors. He also served on the boards of directors of Boston Medical Center, Boston Private Bank & Trust Co., Tufts University, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and the WGBH Educational Foundation.  

Solomont was national finance chair of the Democratic National Committee from 1997–98 and a strong supporter of Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns. He taught an undergraduate political science course on the American presidency as a senior fellow and visiting instructor at Tufts University.

Solomont holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and urban studies from Tufts University and a bachelor of science degree in nursing from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.


Check out the complete listing of Hebrew College honorary-degree recipients dating back to 1987.