Giving Opportunities

How You Can Help

AU's Center for Israel Studies (CIS) is a nationally known pioneer and leader in the growing academic field of Israel Studies. AU created the country's first undergraduate minor in Israel Studies and hosted the first visiting professor in Israel Studies. Through its unique location and interdisciplinary approach to studying Israeli society, culture, arts, and scientific achievement, programs open to the general public are offered monthly throughout the year. We invite you to be a part of the growth of our center by attending our programs and offering your support. Your commitment and generosity will ensure that CIS will continue to serve as a model throughout the nation in this growing field.

To make a contribution to the Center for Israel Studies immediately online by credit card, please visit the donations portal.

Donate to the Center

To become a Friend of the Center, please visit our Membership page.

Major gift opportunities, as well as program support opportunities, are listed below:


For more information about Center for Israel Studies giving opportunities, please contact:

Elizabeth Harless
Assistant Dean of Development,
College of Arts and Sciences

Laura Cutler
Managing Director,
Center for Israel Studies

Major Gift Opportunities

Endowing the Center

This naming opportunity would provide a lasting and powerful affirmation of the important contributions that Israel has made to the world community, and would secure the center as a permanent focal point for Israel scholarship in a major university in the nation's capital. American University has a long standing tradition of exploring international history and culture, with the goal of furthering global education and learning. Endowing CIS would place the study of Israel, and its myriad achievements in the arts, sciences, social sciences and humanities, at the forefront of education at American University and would establish the center as a model in the nation.

Endowing the Directorship

This opportunity would allow the center to permanently establish a leadership team and program initiatives related to the study of Israel. Securing the operations of the center, this directorship naming opportunity would enhance the ability of the director to fully develop the center and plan for a broad array of high profile programs and activities. The director will engage partners across the university's academic disciplines and will implement strategic initiatives and programs with the goal of furthering the study of Israel at American University.

Endowing a Visiting Scholar Fund

An endowed visiting scholar fund would enable the director of the Center for Israel Studies to host internationally renowned scholars to teach, lecture, or perform on campus as visiting faculty members for an entire semester. Visiting scholars would add dimension and depth to the Israel Studies programming at American University and would bring expertise and contacts to the university upon which the center could continually build.

Funding Major Program Initiatives

As a naming opportunity in a specific programmatic area, this opportunity allows for contributions to major programmatic initiatives in five different areas of study-business and technology, science and environmental studies, humanities and the arts, politics and government, or society, and culture. Funding in each area will allow CIS to immediately design and implement programs, including major conferences, lectures, and symposia, and will allow the center to bring leading Israeli scholars to campus to educate the campus community in a specific area of study.

Seymour and Lillian Abensohn Endowment

This is an opportunity to contribute to the center's first endowed chair in Israel Studies. The center has named lecture, performance, and exhibition opportunities for major gifts to the Abensohn Endowment.


Seymour Abensohn, a longtime philanthropist in the Washington, DC, Jewish community, and his wife Lillian Klein Abensohn, made a substantial seed gift to start an endowment fund to establish a chair in Israel Studies at American University. Seymour and Lillian's goal was to bring Israel scholarship to the American University campus in order to provide a full opportunity for the interdisciplinary study of Israel's many contributions and challenges as a nation state. In what became Seymour's last project before his untimely death, he and Lillian recognized that what is taught in university classrooms will have a long, lasting effect on the next generation of leaders.

Campaign Status

Recognizing the importance of Seymour and Lillian's goals, philanthropists across the country have contributed substantially to the campaign. We are pleased to announce that as of spring 2011 we have completed commitments for the Abensohn Chair. American University is grateful to Lillian and Seymour Abensohn for their vision to create the Seymour and Lillian Abensohn Endowed Chair in Israel Studies. We would like to thank everyone whose generous contributions helped make the endowment possible.

The Challenge

The center is still accepting donations towards the endowment. As part of this effort, the center has naming opportunities for annual lectures, performances, and exhibitions for donors.

Special Program Opportunities

American University is seeking private funds from individuals, corporations and foundations to endow the center and provide for annual operating costs.

In-Residence Faculty Sponsorship

The center hosts internationally regarded scholars and performers as visiting faculty members. These individuals represent the vast cultural and intellectual fabric of Israel. They share their talents and experience with the American University community and the greater Washington community. The in-residence scholars may spend an academic year, one semester or shorter periods of time at the center. During that period, they teach courses, offer public lectures and presentations, and serve as intellectual resources for the center for Israel Studies.

Based on the length of stay for the in-residence scholar, support for this priority may include salary, graduate fellowship stipends, travel and housing expenses, as well as other related costs. Each in-residence sponsorship may be named for the donor.

Programmatic Initiatives

Gifts to the program fund would allow the center to provide additional educational and cultural offerings. These might include:

  • Special presentations
  • Performances
  • Access to local learning opportunities
  • Lecture series

Undergraduate Awards/ Graduate Fellowships

The center will provide scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students who have demonstrated interest in Israeli Studies. These students will be pursuing studies directly related to the center in one of the disciplines on which it focuses: humanities, arts & culture, science or social science. Each award or fellowship may be named for the donor.

Types of Donations Accepted

American University is pleased to accept gifts in a variety of forms: cash, securities, real estate, and planned or deferred gifts, to name the most frequently used forms.