A highlight of his 58-year career, Dr. Schiff was presented with the President’s Prize in Jewish Education in Jerusalem Feb. 21 by Israel’s President Moshe Katsav.
Dr. Schiff is Irving I. Stone Distinguished Professor of Jewish Education at Yeshiva University’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration.
Conferred by the Office of the President of Israel, in cosponsorship with the Jewish Agency of Israel, the prize is bestowed “for exemplary global educational leadership including distinguished teaching and administration, the creative founding of important institutions of Jewish life, influential Hebraic scholarship, and prolific research and writing.” The prize is one in a series that awards Israel’s highest civilian honor for achievement in several fields.
Dr. Schiff was nominated for the prize by four Americans: author and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel, Jewish communal leader Shoshana Cardin, board chair of YU’s affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary Julius Berman, and Dr. Chaim Botwinick, Association of Directors of Central Agencies for Jewish Education chairman. Two Israelis also nominated him.
Dr. Schiff founded YU’s Department of Graduate Jewish Education (now Azrieli Graduate School) in 1959, which he directed for 11 years. He also served as executive vice president of the Board of Jewish Education of Greater New York (BJE) from 1970-91.
During that time he began some of the programs that became mainstays of American Jewish life, including Tochnit Yod Gimmel Post High School Program in Israel, which has allowed some 6,000 students spend the year between high school and college studying at Israeli yeshivot, 1958; Hidon Ha-Tanakh (Bible Contest) in the US, 1959; Salute to Israel Parade, 1965; and March of the Living, USA, 1988.
In addition, Dr. Schiff is the author of 15 books and more than 300 articles and research reports, and served as editor of the Journal of Jewish Education from 1967-97. He has been visiting professor or lecturer at institutions including, Brandeis University, City University of New York, Harvard University, New York University, and Tel Aviv University.
He is an alumnus of YU’s Yeshiva College and Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology. YU awarded him an honorary degree in 1977.