RABBI DAVID ELLENSON, Ph.D.
TO BE INAUGURATED AS 8TH PRESIDENT OF
HEBREW UNION COLLEGE-JEWISH INSTITUTE OF RELIGION
OCTOBER 13TH INAUGURATION IN CINCINNATI --
HISTORIC BIRTHPLACE OF REFORM JUDAISM
AND HUC-JIR, ESTABLISHED IN 1875
Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D., will be inaugurated as the eighth
President in the history of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute
of Religion (HUC-JIR), the academic and professional leadership
center of Reform Judaism, on Sunday, October 13, 2002, at Cincinnati's
Isaac M. Wise / K.K. B'nai Yeshurun Plum Street Temple. The Inauguration,
to be attended by the leadership of the Reform Movement from across
North America, Israel, and abroad, will feature the participation
of alumni, faculty, and students. Rabbi Ellenson will be inducted
into office by Burton Lehman, Chair of HUC-JIR's Board of Governors.
The Inauguration Committee is chaired by Ilene and Stanley P. Gold,
immediate past Chair of HUC-JIR's Board of Governors; the honorary
chairs are Joan and Richard J. Scheuer, former Chair of HUC-JIR's
Board of Governors.
As HUC-JIR President, Rabbi Ellenson serves as the Chief Executive
Officer of the four-campus, international university. HUC-JIR's
centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles and New
York provide the academic and professional training programs for
the Reform Movement's rabbis, cantors, educators, and communal service
professionals, and offer graduate programs for scholars of all faiths.
Rabbi Ellenson, who was ordained at HUC-JIR in 1977, is the eighth
President in its 127 year-long history and succeeds Dr. Norman J.
Cohen, Acting President and Provost.
"We are proud that Rabbi Ellenson is leading our institution,"
stated Mr. Lehman. "He is a distinguished rabbi and scholar, dedicated
teacher, and committed leader of the Reform Movement. Associated
with HUC-JIR for nearly 30 years, Rabbi Ellenson is a beloved teacher
and mentor to generations of HUC-JIR students. He is internationally
recognized for his publications and research in the area of Jewish
religious thought, ethics, and modern Jewish history. His exemplary
leadership and passionate commitment to Reform Judaism and the Jewish
people worldwide will inspire HUC-JIR's growth in the 21st century.
In selecting this eminent rabbi and scholar as President for this
institution, we are proud to demonstrate the excellence of HUC-JIR's
intellectual and religious mission."
"I am greatly honored to be called to serve as the President of
HUC-JIR and pledge to advance the definition and fulfillment of
its sacred mission. The College-Institute is a precious intellectual
and religious resource for the ongoing life of the Reform Movement
and the Jewish people. I hope to inspire others to aid in the cooperative
task of building and sustaining this institution as a source for
good and blessing in the world," stated Rabbi Ellenson.
PROFILE OF RABBI DAVID ELLENSON, Ph.D.
Rabbi David Ellenson is the I.H. and Anna Grancell Professor of
Jewish Religious Thought at HUC-JIR in Los Angeles. A member of
HUC-JIR's faculty since 1979, he has served as Lecturer, Assistant
Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor of Jewish Religious
Thought. From 1981-1997, he also held the post of Director of the
Jerome H. Louchheim School of Judaic Studies.
Rabbi Ellenson received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in
1981 and was ordained a rabbi at HUC-JIR's New York School in 1977.
He holds M.A. degrees from Columbia University, HUC-JIR, and the
University of Virginia. He received his B.A. degree from the College
of William and Mary in Virginia in 1969.
Rabbi Ellenson is a Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute of
Jerusalem and a Fellow and Lecturer in the Institute of Advanced
Studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem (1999 to present). He
has served as Visiting Professor of History at the Jewish Theological
Seminary in New York, Lady Davis Visiting Professor of Humanities
in the Department of Jewish Thought at Hebrew University in Jerusalem,
and Visiting Professor in the Center for Jewish Studies and a member
of the Near Eastern Languages and Cultures Department at the University
of California, Los Angeles (1986-97). In addition, he has been the
Blaustein Scholar at the Jerusalem Pardes Institute for Jewish Studies
and regularly serves as a faculty member of the Wexner Heritage
Rabbi Ellenson has published and lectured extensively on diverse
topics in modern Jewish history, ethics, and thought. He is the
author of Tradition in Transition: Orthodoxy, Halakhah and the
Boundaries of Modern Jewish Identity (1989), Rabbi Esriel
Hildesheimer and the Creation of a Modern Jewish Orthodoxy (1990)
(nominated for the National Jewish Book Council's Award for outstanding
book in Jewish History, 1990), and Between Tradition and Culture:
The Dialectics of Jewish Religion and Identity in the Modern World
His work describes the writings of Reform, Conservative, Orthodox,
and Reconstructionist leaders in Europe, the United States, and
Israel during the last two centuries and employs a sociological
approach to illuminate the history and development of modern Jewish
religious denominationalism. His application of this method has
allowed him to emphasize the interplay between Jewish religious
tradition and modern society in unique ways, and has prompted him
to write and lecture on diverse topics, including early Reform and
Orthodoxy in 19th century Germany, conversion to Judaism at the
beginning of the 1900s, and the problems of medical ethics in present-day
Along with Dr. Stanley Chyet, Rabbi Ellenson co-edited Bits
of Honey: Essays for Samson H. Levey (1993), and is the author
of the commentary entitled "How the Modern Prayerbook Evolved" in
the acclaimed Five Volume Series on the Jewish Prayerbook, Minhag
Ami – My People's Prayerbook, edited by Dr. Lawrence Hoffman.
He is currently completing a book tentatively entitled, 'For
the Sake of Heaven': Conversion, Identity, and the Politics of Modern
Jewish Orthodoxy, co-authored with Daniel Gordis. He is also
at work on another book-length collection of his essays.
He has written over 150 articles and reviews in diverse academic
and religious journals and books, including The Hebrew Union
College Annual, The Journal of American Academy of Religion, Religious
Studies Review, The Year Book of the Leo Baeck Institute, Journal
of Religion, Modern Judaism, The Jewish Book Annual, The CCAR Journal,
Conservative Judaism, The Reconstructionist, and Tradition.
His academic lectures have been delivered at such institutions as
Charles University in Prague, Ben Gurion and Bar Ilan Universities
in Israel, Haverford College, Harvard University, Yale University,
Brown University, and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.
Rabbi Ellenson is a member of several professional and academic
societies, including the Association for Jewish Studies, the American
Academy of Religion, the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion,
the Southern California Board of Rabbis, and the Central Conference
of American Rabbis. He has served as a pulpit rabbi in Port Washington,
New York, and Keene, New Hampshire, and has worked at several summer
camps of the Reform and Conservative Movements.
Born in Brookline, Massachusetts, in 1947, Rabbi Ellenson was
raised in Newport News, Virginia. He is married to Rabbi Jacqueline
Koch Ellenson, who was ordained at HUC-JIR/New York in 1983. They
are the parents of Ruth (married to Robert Guffey-Ellenson), Micah,
Hannah, Naomi, and Raphael.
RABBI DAVID ELLENSON STATEMENT
The Covenant lies at the heart of our Jewish tradition. We must
continue to have this biblical notion guide and inspire us as we
strive to have the values of Jewish tradition speak in a relevant
and humane way to the challenges and dilemmas of our time.
We Jews today, not less than our ancestors in generations past,
are called to covenantal responsibility by the God of Israel, Who
asks that we serve as partners -- shufatim -- with God in forming
and mending the world. Each of us is challenged personally to see
to it that mitzvot are performed, to strive for the realization
of kindness, grace and mercy -- hein, hesed, v'rahamim -- in the
The notion of Covenant -- brit -- asserts itself collectively
as well, for we also stand as part of a people, in dialogical relationship
with other members of the household of Israel. We educate our students
to affirm Jewish peoplehood and Jewish solidarity as the core values
of their vocational tasks. We teach them words of Torah, so that
they can bring these words alive and translate them into guidelines.
These guidelines will cause them to perform ma'a'sim tovim -- good
works that will direct and inspire the lives of the people and the
communities that they will one day serve.
This vision of Covenant provides an ideal of freedom and responsibility
that animates the educational endeavors we undertake at Hebrew Union
College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Our students internalize the
history and memory of the Jewish past into their very being. This
knowledge inspires them to feel a responsibility to the past and
gives them the courage to respond creatively in their own voices
to the demands of the present, so that the life-affirming values
and enduring beauty inherent in our tradition can assure a vibrant
Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D.
HEBREW UNION COLLEGE-JEWISH INSTITUTE OF RELIGION
Hebrew Union College was established in 1875 in Cincinnati by
Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, the founder of American Reform Judaism,
and is the oldest institution of higher Jewish education in America.
Throughout its 127 years, HUC-JIR has been characterized by a continuity
and stability of leadership unknown to most other institutions.
Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise led the College for 25 years, succeeded by
the leadership of Rabbi Kaufman Kohler (1903-1921), who strengthened
HUC-JIR's commitment to the scientific investigation of the Jewish
tradition; followed by Rabbi Julian Morgenstern (1921-1947), who
rescued European scholars from the threat of the Nazis. Rabbi Stephen
S. Wise (1922-1948), the founder and leader of the Jewish Institute
of Religion in New York from its inception in 1922 to 1948, was
a pioneer of the American Zionist Movement and a social justice
activist. Dr. Nelson Glueck (1947-1971), who merged HUC and JIR
in 1948, was a renowned biblical archaeologist who established HUC-JIR's
campuses in Jerusalem and Los Angeles. He was succeeded by Dr. Alfred
Gottschalk (1971-1996), a Zionist and modernist who enhanced HUC-JIR's
commitment to Jewish scholarship and community service, followed
by Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman (1996-2000), a 26-year veteran of congregational
leadership and former President of the Central Conference of American
HUC-JIR's Los Angeles campus was opened in 1954 to serve the growing
Jewish community on the West Coast. The Jerusalem campus, founded
in 1963 as a postdoctoral school of archaeological and biblical
studies, has grown to serve as the center for HUC-JIR students'
first year of study and the Israel Rabbinic Program training rabbis
for Israel's Progressive movement.
The College-Institute has ordained 2586 rabbis, including 392
women rabbis since 1972, when HUC-JIR was the first Jewish seminary
to ordain a woman rabbi in America, Rabbi Sally Priesand. Since
1980, HUC-JIR has ordained 26 Israeli rabbis to serve Israel's Progressive
Movement, including 6 Israeli women rabbis since 1992, when HUC-JIR
ordained the first woman rabbi in Israel, Rabbi Naamah Kelman. The
College-Institute's School of Sacred Music, established in 1948
to sustain Jewish liturgical music after the Holocaust, has invested
390 cantors, including 162 women since HUC-JIR invested the first
woman cantor, Cantor Barbara Ostfeld, in 1975.
HUC-JIR has 295 education alumni leading and teaching temple religious
schools, 483 Jewish communal service alumni heading Federations
and Jewish communal and social service agencies, and 359 graduate
studies alumni teaching at HUC-JIR and other distinguished universities
and seminaries throughout the world. There are 915 Reform congregations
that are served by HUC-JIR's alumni and students.
Over 500 courses and 20 advanced degree programs in rabbinic,
cantorial, education, communal service and graduate studies are
offered at the four campuses. Continuing education and public programs
are offered through HUC-JIR's New York Kollel, Academy for Interfaith
Studies in Cincinnati, Beit Midrash/A Liberal Yeshivah in Jerusalem,
and at the Los Angeles School.
HUC-JIR's libraries, with nearly 700,000 volumes, are ranked among
the world's largest repositories of Judaica and Hebraica from the
10th century to the present day. HUC-JIR's American Jewish Archives
comprise over 10 million documents preserving the history of the
Reform movement and Jewish life in the Western Hemisphere, and include
2 million World Jewish Congress documents, establishing it as an
international center for Holocaust research. HUC-JIR's Skirball
Museums in Los Angeles, Cincinnati, and Jerusalem, HUC-JIR Museum
in New York, and archaeological excavations in Israel, present 4,000
years of Jewish history and culture.
HUC-JIR is accredited by the Middle States, North Central, and
Western Association of Colleges and Schools.
SCHEDULE OF INAUGURATION SPECIAL EVENTS
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2002
The Inauguration of Rabbi David Ellenson will feature a series
of special events:
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
3101 Clifton Avenue, Cincinnati
9:00 - 11:00 a.m.
Academic Symposium -- "World Jewry: Retrospective and Prospective"
Dr. Paula Hyman, Lucy Moses Professor of Modern Jewish History,
Yale University; Moderator
Dr. Ruth Gavison, Haim H. Cohen Professor of Human Rights, Hebrew
Dr. Arthur Hertzberg, Bronfman Visiting Professor of the Humanities,
New York University
Beate Klarsfeld, The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, Paris, France
9:00 - 11:00 a.m.
Tours of the Cincinnati campus
The Dalsheimer Rare Book Room
The Jacob R. Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives
The Skirball Museum Cincinnati
The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education
* * *
Plum Street Temple
Eighth and Plum Streets, Cincinnati
Inauguration of Rabbi David Ellenson