Best-selling Author to Address 2013 Grads

anita diamant to address class of 2013Best-selling author Anita Diamant will address the graduating class of 2013 at Hebrew College’s 88th morning commencement exercises June 2 at Congregation Mishkan Tefila in Chestnut Hill.

Diamant, who rose to national prominence with the publication of her first novel, “The Red Tent,” in 1997, will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters during the 10 a.m. ceremony. Honorary doctorates will also be awarded to business leader and philanthropist Morton L. Mandel, Hebrew College Provost Barry Mesch and, posthumously, to Rabbi David Hartman, the renowned Jewish philosopher who died in February at the age of 81.

Hebrew College will grant rabbinical and cantorial ordinations, master’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees and certificates to 67 students at morning exercises. During afternoon ceremonies, the college will award degrees to 66 graduates of Prozdor Hebrew high school. Both proceedings will be led by Susan Ain, chair of the Board of Trustees, and Rabbi Daniel Lehmann, president of Hebrew College.

On Thursday, June 6, Hebrew College will confer certificates to 102 members of its Me’ah adult-learning program during ceremonies at Hebrew College in Newton Centre.

As part of the June 2 morning program, the college will recognize two accomplished educators for distinguished achievement in Jewish educational leadership. Dr. Naomi Stillman, associate director of Hebrew College’s NETA Hebrew-language program, will receive the Sidney Hillson/Rose Bronstein Memorial Award for distinguished leadership and commitment to the centrality of the Hebrew language in Jewish education and the advancement of Jewish culture and civilization, and Charlotte Katz Abramson, P’63, ’66, will receive the Dr. Benjaman J. Shevach Award for distinguished achievement in Jewish educational leadership.

Diamant, a Boston-based journalist, lecturer and writer, has published three other novels in addition to “The Red Tent,” a national bestseller published in 25 countries and 20 languages. They include "Good Harbor," a contemporary story that explores the importance of women’s friendships as a source of strength and happiness; “The Last Days of Dogtown,” which describes life in a poor, rural Cape Ann community in the early 1800s; and “Day After Night,” which tells the stories of women who lived through the Holocaust and await the future in a British internment camp. She has also written a series of nonfiction guides to contemporary Jewish life and is a co-founder of Mayyim Hayyim: Living Waters Community Mikveh in Newton, Mass.

Mandel, a leading philanthropist, business executive and social entrepreneur, has been widely recognized for his initiatives in the corporate world, the nonprofit environment, the public sector and the international Jewish community. With his two brothers, Jack and Joseph, he co-founded Premier Industrial Corp., where he served as chairman and chief executive officer until the company’s 2006 merger with Farnell Electronics. Today, he serves as chairman and chief executive officer of Parkwood LLC, a private trust company, and of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation, which supports leadership-education programs in its own institutions and at selected universities and organizations.

Mesch, a scholar, teacher and administrative leader, has served since 1990 as provost and Stone-Teplow Families Professor of Jewish Thought at Hebrew College. His work focuses on medieval and modern Jewish thought, theology and the Holocaust, and on the history of biblical interpretation. He will step down as provost at the end of June, and continue to teach and serve as a special adviser to the president.

Hartman, one of the world’s leading Jewish philosophers and a promoter of diversity among Jewish theological trends, founded the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem in 1976 and was named founding president in 2009, when his son, Donniel, was named president. He also founded the Charles E. Smith High School in central Jerusalem and was professor of Jewish thought at Hebrew University of Jerusalem for more than two decades. He died on Feb. 10 in Jerusalem after a long illness.

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