Hebrew College, Andover Newton Appoint Joint Islamic Studies Scholar

celine ayat lizzio, islamic studies scholar at CIRCLEHebrew College and Andover Newton Theological School today announced the joint appointment of an emerging Islamic studies scholar to serve as scholar-in-residence and share in the leadership of the institutions' groundbreaking interreligious leadership education efforts. Made possible by a generous grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, the appointment is for three years, beginning in March and moving to full time in July.

Celene Ayat Lizzio is recognized as a leading representative of the new generation of American Muslim thinkers and leaders. Her position will involve both teaching courses at the schools, developing programs in conjunction with the existing interfaith work there, and fostering greater interaction among Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities. Lizzio is a graduate of Princeton University, Harvard Divinity School and is a current PhD candidate at Brandeis University.

Hebrew College and Andover Newton, who share a hilltop campus in Newton Centre, Mass., are known nationally and internationally for their innovative approach to training religious leaders in an interreligious setting. Both are deeply committed to nurturing and strengthening clergy in their own distinct traditions, but feel that the demands of a pluralistic world require today’s ministers and rabbis have “border-crossing skills.”

Rabbi Daniel Lehmann, president of Hebrew College, said the appointment marks an exciting and important moment in the history of the two institutions.

"While it is imperative that we know, cherish and enhance our own traditions, no rabbi or minister can be a true leader in today’s environment without the ability to understand how our own tradition can constructively engage the religious traditions of others," he said. "There is too high a price to pay for ignorance. For our great traditions to be relevant and offer something of value to the world, we must have a much deeper understanding of each other.”

The Rev. Nick Carter, president of Andover Newton, added that, in a world plagued by hatred, suspicion and violence stemming from religious differences, religious leaders have an obligation to ensure there is a new generation with the skill to effectively engage those of different faiths and build vibrant communities together.

"Andover Newton and Hebrew College have been able to create a unique laboratory for the development of those critical skills,” he said.

Lizzio said she was honored to be joining the distinguished faculties of Andover Newton Theological School and Hebrew College.

"These two institutions are at the forefront of an interreligious leadership studies movement that is enhancing, in leaps and bounds, our collective capacity to be religious scholars and practitioners in a multireligious world," she said. "I look forward to the future and offer my sincere gratitude to those who that made this appointment possible, including the visionary support of the Henry Luce Foundation.”

The multifaceted interreligious programs at Andover Newton and Hebrew College have been gathered into the Center for Inter-Religious and Communal Leadership Education (www.interreligiousleadership.org) under the shared leadership of Rabbi Or Rose, director of the Center for Global Judaism at Hebrew College, and Jennifer Peace, assistant professor of interfaith studies at Andover Newton. Lizzio will join them as a third co-director.

* * *

Hebrew College, founded in 1921, promotes excellence in Jewish learning and leadership within a pluralistic environment of open inquiry, intellectual rigor, personal engagement and spiritual creativity. Its programs include a rabbinical school, a school of Jewish music, a school of Jewish education, graduate degrees and courses in Jewish studies; community education for adult learners; and a supplemental Hebrew high school and middle school. For more information, visit

Andover Newton Theological School, founded in 1807, is the first graduate school of any kind in America. Always an innovator in religious education, Andover Newton is internationally recognized as a leader in pastoral preparation and in interfaith learning. For more information visit www.ants.edu.

— Feb. 12, 2014