History & Mission

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Hyman Gratz portrait

Portrait of Hyman Gratz

Gratz College bears the name of a storied Jewish family, whose rich history is interwoven with that of America. The significance of the Gratz name in Philadelphia extends beyond the college walls, back in time to the American Revolution. The Gratz family history is one of patriotism, economic success, philanthropy and support for Jewish causes.

Education was a priority for Rebecca Gratz; in 1838 she established the Hebrew Sunday School Society in Philadelphia. She taught eight women and five men in her first afternoon class, and twelve women and nine men in her first evening class. (Today, Gratz students benefit from an 11:1 student ratio, for an intimate and personalized learning experience.)

Gratz College traces its origins back to 1856 when her brother Hyman and the Hebrew Education Society of Philadelphia (established in 1849 by Rebecca Gratz and Isaac Leeser) joined together to establish a trust to create a Hebrew teachers’ college.

When Gratz died in 1869, her brother, Hyman, left funds for the founding of a teachers' college for Jewish education. Built in 1895 as the first of its kind, Gratz College continues the mission of its namesake today, with a commitment to quality Jewish education.


Gratz College provides a pluralistic education rooted in Jewish values and engages students in active study for personal and professional enrichment. Through degree and non-degree offerings and cultural programs, Gratz enables students everywhere to become leaders in their professions and communities.


  • Respect for knowledge
  • Inspiring study
  • Academic excellence
  • Respect for the individual