Clara Knopfler Jewish Leadership Scholarship

Clara Knopfler Jewish Leadership Scholarship

California Lutheran University has long been committed to promoting and increasing diversity, including its growing community of Jewish students, faculty, staff, friends and donors. This is a place where all faiths, cultures and beliefs are welcomed and supported.

In this spirit, Cal Lutheran has established the Clara Knopfler Jewish Leadership Scholarship to benefit the education of future generations of Jewish students.

Clara Knopfler is a Holocaust survivor, renowned speaker and author of the memoir “I Am Still Here, My Mother’s Voice.” In honor of Clara Knopfler and her contributions to education, Jewish life on campus, and peace among all people, Cal Lutheran has created this scholarship to help support the growth of Jewish student leaders at Cal Lutheran.

Your gift, no matter the amount, goes directly toward ensuring these students have access to a high-quality education that will serve as the foundation for the rest of their lives.

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Jewish Life at Cal Lutheran

Jewish Life ClubCal Lutheran has a growing Jewish student population of approximately 150 students, an active Hillel Jewish student club, and an ordained Israeli female rabbi on staff.

While we are a Lutheran institution, we seek to foster diversity and interfaith relations, creating a global campus environment that mirrors the diversity of the community we serve.

More about Jewish Life at Cal Lutheran

About Clara Knopfler

Clara KnopflerClara has been an inspiration  and dear friend of the Cal Lutheran family for many years now, from honored guest in all our Jewish celebrations to intimate conversations and sharing her story with the students.

As much as Hillel students are an inspiration for Clara, she is an inspiration to us, reminding us why we are doing what we are doing - raising the next generation of young, Jewish adults.

Read Clara's biography

Clara Knopfler is a Holocaust survivor, renowned speaker, and author of the memoir, “I Am Still Here, My Mother’s Voice,” published in 2007. A native of Romania, Clara survived the horrors of several Nazi concentration and labor camps, including the infamous Auschwitz, in Poland.

After a long “death march,” she was liberated in January 1945 and endured a three-month long walk back to Romania because there was no transportation. She and her mother were the only two survivors from an extended family of 37.

After the war, Clara earned her teaching degree in Romania. In 1962, Clara, her husband, Paul Knopfler, their son George, and her mother, Pepi Deutsch, immigrated to France, and then after a year to the United States. Clara speaks seven languages and has taught French for many years.

She is currently working on a second book which features a compilation of hundreds of moving letters she has received in response to her first book. Clara speaks frequently about her life to students in schools, churches, synagogues and colleges to further her goal of educating others about the dangers of hatred and the importance of human rights for all including acceptance, freedom, and respect.

About Rabbi Belle Michael

Clara and Rabbi BelleRabbi Belle Michael oversees Cal Lutheran’s Hillel group, one of the most active and social clubs on campus that strives to provide Jewish students with community, a “home away from home,” and an opportunity to explore their identity.

The Hillel club is run by a team of student leaders with support from the university’s Hillel Advisory Board made up of community leaders, parents, alumni, faculty and staff. 

I came to Cal Lutheran for the opportunity to nurture a strong, vibrant Jewish community on campus. It is important to me that Cal Lutheran is a safe place for Jewish students of all affiliations to explore their own identity while making new friends. I love celebrating Jewish holidays and teaching others about our traditions. Engaging with our students and seeing our future Jewish leaders grow and develop their identities is the best part of my job.

Belle Michael
Campus Rabbi

About Dr. Michael Berenbaum

Dr. Michael BerenbaumDr. Michael Berenbaum was the project director who oversaw the creation of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and served as the first director of its Research Institute.  At the request of film director Steven Spielberg, Dr. Berenbaum served as President and CEO of The Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, which has taken the testimony of 52,000 Holocaust survivors in 32 languages and from 57 countries. His work in film, including “The Last Days,” and “One Survivor Remembers: The Gerda Weissman Klein Story,” has won Emmy Awards and Academy Awards. Dr. Berenbaum served as historical consultant for the PBS documentary, “Swimming in Auschwitz,” HBO’s “Conspiracy,” and NBC’s “Uprising.” He currently serves as Director of the Sigi Ziering Institute: Exploring the Ethical and Religious Implications of the Holocaust, and is a Professor of Jewish Studies at American Jewish University, in Los Angeles. An author and editor of 20 books, he served as executive editor of the Encyclopaedia Judaica Second Edition.


The flourishing Jewish community at Cal Lutheran is an outgrowth of our commitment to interfaith conversation and cooperation. Strengthening the religious diversity of our student body allows us to better reflect on theological questions and provide opportunities to engage in discussions of faith, thought, and practice.

Chris Kimball
Cal Lutheran President


Rebecca Gold

Being in Hillel at Cal Lutheran has been an amazing opportunity to grow as a leader and make wonderful relationships. I have formed a family on campus through Hillel and will always cherish the fact that I was able to be so active in the Jewish community in such a unique way.

Rebecca Gold
Student and former Hillel Club president