Office of the President
Zev Eleff is the twelfth president of Gratz College. One of the youngest presidents in American higher education, Eleff, at 35 years-old, was elected by the College’s Board of Governors in June 2021. Eleff was previously chief academic officer of Hebrew Theological College and vice provost of Touro College Illinois.
Eleff’s vision for higher education matches Gratz’s historical mission. A prolific scholar, Eleff holds an international reputation for academic rigor and sophistication. He is the author or editor of 14 books and more than 120 articles in the fields of Jewish Studies and American Religion. Eleff’s research in American Jewish history has received numerous awards, including the American Jewish Historical Society’s Wasserman Prize and the Rockower Award for Excellence by the American Jewish Press Association. He is also a two-time finalist for the National Jewish Book Award, a member of the Academic Council of the American Jewish Historical Society, and one of the youngest faculty members promoted to full professor in Touro College’s history.
An adept administrator, Eleff’s career in higher education includes leadership in the areas of strategic planning, financial feasibility, degree pathway innovation, and accreditation. Eleff also led a major overhaul of assessment and evaluation and in 2019 co-directed and adapted that system in support of American Jewish philanthropy. Several Jewish Federations and organizations have adopted that framework to evaluate impact in their local communities.
Before relocating to the Philadelphia area, Eleff was a prominent and wide-reaching voice within Chicago’s Jewish community. He was a member of several agency boards, an invited speaker in dozens of synagogues and agencies, and was a recipient of the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago’s “36 Under 36” award.
Eleff is a champion of pluralism and constructive conversation, having lectured to large audiences at Yeshiva University (Orthodox), Rabbinical Assembly (Conservative) and Hebrew Union College (Reform). His efforts have also extended to other faith-based initiatives within academic and educational settings, including partnerships with George Mason University’s Pandemic Religion project and Loyola University Chicago.
Eleff received his Ph.D. from Brandeis University and M.A. from Teachers College, Columbia University. At Yeshiva University, Eleff graduated from Yeshiva College and received ordination from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. He is a past Wexner Graduate Fellow/Davidson Scholar, a prestigious program for Jewish leaders and professionals. Eleff resides in Merion Station, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Melissa, and their three children.