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Center for Israel Studies | Seymour and Lillian Abensohn Endowment

Promoting Dialogue in a Global Context

Lillian and Seymour Abensohn

Lillian and Seymour Abensohn

For more than a decade, Lillian K. Abensohn has been a stalwart advocate of American University's Center for Israel Studies. Lillian values the center's mission to celebrate, examine, and interpret the rich landscape of Israel as a nation and a people through multidisciplinary study. "Relative to its size, Israel looms large in public discourse; the center provides a critical and balanced examination of its diversity," Lillian says. 

The Abensohns' commitment to the Center for Israel Studies motivated their initial leadership contribution for the Seymour and Lillian Abensohn Endowed Chair in Israel Studies. The Abensohn endowment has been supplemented by donations from numerous friends of AU and members of the Washington, DC, Jewish community, as well as close personal friends of the Abensohns. Supporting contributions have taken many forms, from outright gifts of cash and securities to deferred gifts through charitable estate planning vehicles including bequests, retirement plan assets, and life insurance.

Relative to its size, Israel looms large in public discourse; the center provides a critical and balanced examination of its diversity.
—Lillian K. Abensohn

Recently, the Center for Israel Studies initiated a search to fill its newly endowed chair. The entire community looks forward to welcoming an Israel Studies scholar of prominence. "The Seymour and Lillian Abensohn Endowed Chair is the realization of a $2 million multi-donor commitment to American University's efforts to engage our community and promote academic vibrancy," says President Neil Kerwin '71. "The chair's existence will benefit students in a wide spectrum of disciplines for years to come." American University is grateful to Lillian and Seymour Abensohn for their vision to create the Seymour and Lillian Abensohn Endowed Chair in Israel Studies. We would like to thank all of the individuals whose generous contributions help make the endowment possible.

Background
Seymour Abensohn, a longtime philanthropist in the Washington, DC, Jewish community, and his wife Lillian Klein Abensohn, made a substantial seed gift to start an endowment fund to establish a chair in Israel Studies at American University.

Seymour and Lillian’s goal was to bring Israel scholarship to the American University campus in order to provide a full opportunity for the study of Israel and its many achievements and challenges as a nation state. In what became Seymour’s last project before his untimely death, he and Lillian recognized that what is taught in university classrooms will have a long, lasting effect on the next generation of leaders.

Campaign Status 
Recognizing the importance of Seymour and Lillian’s goals, philanthropists across the country have contributed substantially to the campaign. We are pleased to announce that as of spring 2011 we have completed commitments for the Abensohn Chair, and a faculty search is underway for the position. We thank all of the individuals whose generous contributions help make the endowment possible.

The Challenge
The center is still accepting donations towards the endowment. As part of this effort, the center has naming opportunities for annual lectures, performances, and exhibitions for donors.