New Dean Appointed to Blitstein Institute of Hebrew Theological College

Chicago, IL - Dr. Chani (Karen) Tessler was named Dean of Blitstein Institute, the women’s division of Hebrew Theological College (HTC), Rabbi Shmuel L. Schuman, HTC CEO announced today. Dr. Tessler assumes the helm of the Blitstein Institute after a decade of service at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. At Rush, Dr. Tessler served as assistant professor in the departments of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (Rush Medical College) and Communication Disorders and Sciences (Rush University College of Health Science).

“We are thrilled to bring on Dr. Tessler,” said Dr. Alan Kadish, President of the Touro College and University System (TCUS) and Hebrew Theological College. “She comes with superb academic credentials and a strong commitment to the Jewish community. She is also very enthusiastic about the future of Blitstein Institute,” explained Dr. Kadish.

“Dr. Tessler brings a strong professional background to Blitstein Institute,” said Rabbi Schuman, “as well as broad knowledge and experience in the Health Sciences, a career path that many of our students are interested in pursuing.”

Dr. Tessler has held several leadership positions in academia. At Rush, she was manager of clinical education for the program of speech-language pathology, served as chair of faculty development in the College of Health Science and was a member of a committee that was at the forefront of implementing best practices in interprofessional education and collaborative patient care across the medical center. She was also the faculty advisor for the Jewish Student Association at Rush. In addition, Dr. Tessler is the Discipline Coordinator for the University of Illinois’ Leadership Education for Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) initiative, training future leaders in disability studies.

Rabbi Schuman expressed the importance of the appointment of a talented and charismatic role model for HTC’s undergraduates. “Dr. Tessler is very excited to utilize her skills and experience to help our students pursue careers while ensconced in a nurturing and academic Torah environment. We have every confidence that students who enter Blitstein Institute will find Dr. Tessler, Rabbi Binyomin Olstein and Mrs. Rita Lipshitz stellar champions of HTC and Touro’s educational goals.”

Dr. Tessler is a graduate of Beth Jacob Jerusalem Teacher’s Seminary and received her BA from Northeastern Illinois University. She earned her MA and Ph.D. degrees from Northwestern University.

A community leader in Chicago, Dr. Tessler has chaired the Midwest Holocaust Symposia in affiliation with the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center and initiated the ongoing monthly Rosh Chodesh Project for Women in Chicago.

Dr. Tessler looks forward to carrying on the historic mission of the Blitstein Institute and blending that with Touro’s expansive educational opportunities. “The Blitstein Institute of the Hebrew Theological College has been at the forefront of women's advanced Jewish and secular education in Chicago since its inception. With the joining of HTC to the Touro College and University System, the Blitstein Institute now has access to the breadth and depth of experience, resources, and expertise of this venerable institution. These innovations will assist the young women of the Midwest to gain the knowledge and skills leading to Jewish scholarship, meaningful careers, and leadership in the community to best serve Klal Yisrael. I am honored and humbled to accept the position of Dean at this exciting moment in the institution's history," said Tessler.

According to HTC Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Zev Eleff, “Dean Tessler will synergize our community. Her creativity and vision will ensure that Blitstein Institute will educate and inspire a new generation of women to become wonderful leaders and professionals in Chicago and across the world.”

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