The UCLA Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies has received a $1 million matching challenge grant from The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation, it was announced Wednesday.

The grant aims to encourage others to make endowment contributions designated for teaching in Israel studies at UCLA. The center seeks to raise $1 million in additional gifts by June 30, 2027.

Contributions made each year will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the Gilbert Foundation.

The foundation’s challenge gift will create The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation Endowment for Teaching in Israel Studies, positioning the Nazarian Center to engage more students in the study of modern Israel at UCLA, and fund The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation Prize for Excellence in Israel Studies Teaching.

The latter annual prize will confer a $5,000 award in honor of outstanding university teaching about modern Israel in any discipline by an exceptional lecturer or professor in the United States.

“We have been very pleased with our long-term partnership with UCLA and the Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies,” said Martin Blank Jr., Gilbert Foundation trustee. “With this matching grant, we want to advance outstanding teaching about modern Israel at UCLA and beyond, and promote humanities courses in particular, so that students will have a deeper understanding of the country in all its dimensions.”

The grant will enable UCLA to consistently offer more courses in Israel studies in a wide range of academic disciplines, especially the humanities. The university currently has only one permanent faculty member in Israel studies, Nazarian Center Director Dov Waxman, who is the Gilbert Foundation Chair in Israel Studies and a professor of political science.

The Nazarian Center regularly hosts visiting faculty and part-time lecturers, but long-term faculty are essential for fostering relationships with UCLA students and faculty, as well as for building an interdisciplinary Israel studies research community on campus, according to the university.

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