History & Mission

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Portraits of Rebecca and her brother, 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 Hyman Gratz (brother of Rebecca Gratz) and the Hebrew Education Society of Philadelphia (established in 1848 by Rebecca Gratz and Isaac Leeser) joined together to establish a trust to create a Hebrew teachers’ college.

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

Mission Statement

Gratz College provides a pluralistic education and engages students in active study for professional growth and personal enrichment.  Gratz offers graduate and undergraduate degree and certificate programs, as well as learning opportunities for adults and teens. Through productive partnerships, the College also seeks to maintain and expand its institutional and academic relationships in Philadelphia, North America and worldwide.

Many of Gratz’s programs reflect the College’s historic focus on Jewish studies and education. With a broad commitment to the intellectual and professional growth of diverse constituencies, the College creates access for students everywhere to become leaders in their professions and communities.

Vision Statement

Gratz College is internationally recognized as a leader in developing effective educators, professionals, leaders and scholars, both within and beyond the Jewish community; inspiring life-long learners; and helping to build informed and strong communities through education grounded in Jewish values.
 

Core Values

1.    Perpetuating and developing educational and other professional resources for the Jewish community

2.    Promoting life-long learning and love for knowledge

3.    Inspiring study and academic excellence

4.    Nurturing critical thinking

5.    Upholding integrity and ethics as a foundation for the conduct of the institution, its personnel, and the educational process

6.    Advancing professional development and scholarship

7.    Fostering diversity and respect for the individual

8.    Building communities of learners through collaboration

9.    Contributing a Jewish perspective to the marketplace of ideas.