Hebrew Union College-Jewish
Institute of Religion
mourns the death of Audrey Skirball-Kenis, Vice-Chair,
HUC-JIR Board of Governors
"It is with profound sorrow that the administration, faculty,
students, alumni, Governors, and Overseers of Hebrew Union College-Jewish
Institute of Religion mourn the death of Audrey Skirball-Kenis,
a beloved leader and benefactor of our institution," stated Dr.
David Ellenson, president, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute
of Religion. "Audrey was a patron of art, culture, and higher education,
whose vision found expression in her lifelong commitment to the
mission of our institution."
Skirball-Kenis died on June 19 in California at age 87. It was
Skirball-Kenis's recognition that a museum is central to the life
and survival of a people that led to the creation of a network of
museums across HUC-JIR's campuses: the Skirball Museum at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati;
the Skirball Museum at HUC-JIR/LA and its expansion in the HUC-JIR
Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles; and the Skirball Center
for Biblical Research and Museum at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem.
Judy Lucas, curator of the Skirball Museum in Cincinnati reflected,
"Audrey's presence will always be felt in Cincinnati. It is because
of her support that our Museum is recognized as a cultural treasure
in the region."
Her 38-year-long marriage to producer Jack Skirball launched her
career as a philanthropist. Jack Skirball, a prominent film producer
who had been ordained a rabbi at HUC-JIR, was responsible for securing
the state charter for HUC-JIR's Los Angeles school in 1954. Together,
they were the leading proponents and supporters of the development
and growth of the HUC-JIR/LA campus, which was expanded and relocated
to be adjacent to the University of Southern California in 1971.
Mrs. Skirball-Kenis was born in Birmingham, Alabama, to banker
Otto Marx and was raised in New York. Her grandfather, Henry Mosler,
was a prominent 19th century American artist whose works she extensively
collected and documented in a major exhibition, "Henry Mosler Rediscovered:
A Nineteenth Century American-Jewish Artist," which inaugurated
the HUC-JIR Skirball Cultural Center in 1996.
Together with Charles Kenis, whom she married in 1987, her philanthropic
generosity has provided major support for arts, medical, and other
organizations in Los Angeles, New York, Jerusalem, and Oxford, England,
including The Skirball Institution on American Values, New York
University's Skirball Biomolecular Institute and Skirball Department
of Judaic Studies, Audrey Skirball-Kenis Theatre, Center Theater
Group, LA Music Center, LA Opera, LA County Museum of Art, University
of Southern California Norris Cancer Research Center, Oxford Centre
for Postgraduate Hebrew Studies in England, and Taper's New Work
Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
is the nation's oldest institution of higher Jewish education and
the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development
center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service
to American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and communal
service professionals, and offers graduate and post-graduate degree
programs to scholars of all faiths. With centers of learning in
Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly
resources comprise renowned library, archive and museum collections,
biblical archaeology excavations, and academic publications.