Welcome to Jewish Studies at CSULB!
It is with great sorrow that we mourn the loss of Ray Alpert, who passed away on Wednesday, June 11, 2014. Ray and his wife Barbara have truly been pillars of our community, and we at Cal State Long Beach owe them a real debt of gratitude. Ray was not merely an active member of the Jewish Studies advisory board who provided leadership for virtually all the programs we offer during the year; at a moment of crisis, he and Barbara stepped up and through their generosity saved the Jewish Studies Program. Their endowment of a chair in Jewish Studies has allowed us to continue offering classes, degrees, and our regular lecture series, but also helped us expand our programming by bringing artists, performers, and leading scholars to campus.
Ray and Barbara have also been strong and consistent supporters of Beach Hillel, which provides services to Jewish students not only at Cal State Long Beach, but at several other universities and community colleges in the Long Beach and Orange County areas. Through the help of Ray Alpert, Beach Hillel has been able to provide free kosher Friday night dinners to students, opportunities to work for social justice, and various educational and social activities that encourage students’ personal growth and exploration.
One issue dear to Ray’s heart was building bridges among communities. For the last two years, he has funded a collaborative project on campus involving Jewish Studies and Chicano and Latino Studies. The idea was to bring speakers to campus that would highlight the long-standing relationships between Jews and Latino/as in Southern California. Just a few weeks ago, he and Barbara came to campus to hear Dr. George Sanchez from USC describe the unique nature of the Boyle Heights community of the 1930s and ’40s, a place where immigrant Jews mixed with Mexican and Mexican-Americans, African-Americans, and Japanese-Americans, forming alliances of mutual support. Ray was born and raised in Boyle Heights, and he was delighted to see students from Jewish Studies and Chicano and Latino Studies classes come together to learn about this common past.
Ray’s interests went far beyond the Cal State campus; he and his wife were active members of the Long Beach Jewish Community Center that bears their name, Jewish Family and Children’s Services, Temple Israel, and the California Conference for Equality and Justice. His generosity and activism has touched the lives of countless people in the Long Beach area and his passing leaves a gaping hole in our hearts.
When speaking of someone who had died, Jews typically say zichro l’vrachah, may his memory be a blessing. Our campus and community has truly been blessed by his life and his works. Our condolences go out to Barbara, his family, and friends. May his soul be bound up in the bonds of eternal life (1 Samuel 25:29).
Pictured above from L to R: President F. King Alexander, Barbara and Ray Alpert, Dean Riposa, Alan Ray, CFO, CSULB Foundation