Cincinnati is the historic center of Reform Judaism where Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise first established the URJ in 1873 as the financial mechanism to fund the creation and operation of a school to train Reform rabbis. Once the URJ was established, Rabbi Wise was able to found Hebrew Union College in 1875 as the first institution of higher Jewish learning in the Western Hemisphere.
The Cincinnati School is a center for the four stateside years of the rabbinical program, culminating in ordination. The School of Graduate Studies, established in 1948, serves as a premier center for advanced graduate study, training scholars and academics of all faiths for universities and seminaries worldwide and offers a joint graduate program in classics and Greco-Roman studies with the University of Cincinnati, as well as a joint doctoral program in comparative law and legal ethics with the University of Cincinnati School of Law.
The Cincinnati campus, situated adjacent to the University of Cincinnati, comprises twenty acres of land and nine buildings. These include the Cecil W. Herrman Learning Center, which houses classrooms, the S.H. and Helen R. Scheuer Chapel and the College Store of textbooks and Judaica; the Sisterhood Dormitory, containing the faculty and student dining room and various social rooms; the New Dormitory; the Klau Library; the Dalsheimer Rare Book Building; the Jacob Rader Marcus Center and Edwin A. Malloy Education Building of the American Jewish Archives; the National Administration Building; the Manuel D. and Rhoda Mayerson Hall, which houses the Skirball Museum Cincinnati Branch, the HUC-UC Center for the Study of Ethics and Contemporary Moral Problems, the Starkoff Institute of Ethics, and the Center for Holocaust Education; and the Freiberg Gymnasium.
The Klau Library is one of the most extensive Jewish libraries in the world. With 420,000 printed items of Judaica, the Library is the second largest collection of printed Judaica in the world second only to the Jewish National and University Library, Jerusalem. It contains over 700,000 volumes, among them 150 incunabula, more than 2,000 manuscript codices, and many thousands of pages of archival documents. Special collections include Jewish Americana, music, an outstanding Spinoza collection, and extensive microforms. It also houses the American Jewish Periodical Center, which preserves American Jewish periodicals and newspapers on microfilm. More than 875 titles, with over 12,000,000 pages, are available in the Center.
The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives is a major center of study, research, and publication in the field of American Jewish history. The Archives collects and catalogues material, both published and manuscript, reflecting the life and history of American Jewry. It is the repository of the archive of the Union for Reform Judaism (formerly Union of American Hebrew Congregations), the Women of Reform Judaism, and the College-Institute. It now has approximately 15 million pages of documents, two million of which are from the archives of the World Jewish Congress. This collection makes the Archives one of the major research institutions on the Holocaust in the United States. Scholars from various parts of the world participate in the doctoral and postdoctoral fellowship programs of the American Jewish Archives in the field of Jewish history of the Americas.
The Center for the Study of Ethics and Contemporary Moral Problems, a joint project of HUC-JIR and the University of Cincinnati, is a national resource center for the exploration of critical ethical and moral issues. The Center's activities include lectures, conferences, symposia, and publications, as well as courses taught by visiting faculty and faculty from the College-Institute and the University of Cincinnati.
The Skirball Museum Cincinnati Branch houses The Archaeology Center, a permanent collection of Jewish archaeological artifacts from The Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology in Jerusalem, and Jewish ceremonial and ritual objects. Additional exhibits depict Torah study, American Judaism with an emphasis on Cincinnati and HUC-JIR, aspects of the Holocaust, and modern Israel. Temporary exhibits are displayed in the special, changing exhibition gallery.
The College-Institute has established joint academic programs with the University of Cincinnati and with the other eleven institutions which make up the Greater Cincinnati Consortium of Colleges and Universities. The B'nai B'rith Hillel Foundation at the University of Cincinnati serves as a training center for HUC-JIR students and is an integral part of HUC-JIR's students' social, academic, and cultural life. HUC-JIR also has a close relationship with the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati and its constituent agencies.
Students enrolled in Clinical Pastoral Education programs serve as hospital chaplains at the Jewish Hospital of Cincinnati and at other hospitals in the region.
The centrality of the Cincinnati School's location facilitates the service of students and faculty throughout mid-America, through students' clinical training programs and internship placements and faculty's outreach as scholars-in-residence.