Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning & Leadership

Chicago’s College of Jewish Studies, the predecessor of Spertus Institute, was founded in 1924. In its first year it offered three courses: Jewish history, religion, and language. The courses were offered on Tuesday and Thursday nights in rented space on South Michigan Avenue, and students could enroll in all three for the grand sum of $15. The early response was encouraging, and two years later, the college offered four types of diplomas — Hebrew teacher, Sunday school teacher, club leader, and club supervisor — reflective of its educational and communal mission...In 1974, Spertus moved from its longtime location at 72 E. 11th Street to the former IBM headquarters at 618 S. Michigan Avenue. Norman Asher, a leading Chicago attorney who studied Bible and Talmud, recognized the need for a first class Jewish library to serve the Chicago community. In conjunction with Spertus’ move to a larger facility, he and his wife Helen endowed what is now known as the Asher Library...In 1993, Spertus College officially became Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies, its new name reflecting its multidisciplinary identity and its multifaceted approach to the study of the Jewish experience.
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