Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is the intellectual,
academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center
of Reform Judaism. Our faculty, students, administration, and family
of friends and supporters represent our fervent hope for the Jewish
future, our commitment to the present, and our continuity with all
the generations of the past. It is that shared vision that makes
HUC-JIR an exciting and dynamic center of Jewish learning and influence.
We invite you to learn more about the College-Institute and to
visit us at one of our four centers of learning to become acquainted
with our resources, programs, and services. We also hope you will
join our HUC-JIR family as we strive to ensure creative Jewish life
into the twenty-first century and beyond. We proudly take our place,
together with you, in the unfolding story of the Jewish people,
its covenant with God, and its place in the service and history
When Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, the founder of American Reform Judaism,
came to America in 1846, he encountered a frontier Jewry of 40,000
people lacking any significant Jewish cultural or intellectual activity.
There was but one ordained officiating rabbi in all of America;
most Jewish clergy were German "free lancers," officiating in the
German language and lacking any real understanding of American life.
Wise understood the urgent need for rabbinical training and standards
for those who would provide progressive, enlightened, and modern
spiritual leadership for the American pulpit. At a time when Christian
denominational colleges were springing up by the score, Wise was
certain that an institution of higher Jewish learning would guarantee
Jewish survival in America.
And so, in 1873, with an American Jewish population exceeding 150,000,
Wise was the catalyst for the creation of the Union of American
Hebrew Congregations, with its twenty-eight congregational founding
members, in order to support the establishment of a "Hebrew Theological
Institute." In 1875, the Hebrew Union College was launched as the
first permanent Jewish institution of higher learning in the New
The liberal and pluralistic ethos of Wise's seminary was amplified
through its merger in 1950 with the Jewish Institute of Religion.
Founded in 1922 in New York by Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, the renowned
advocate of social justice and human rights, the Jewish Institute
of Religion was conceived as an institution serving all streams
A third center was opened in Los Angeles in 1954 to serve the growing
Jewish community on the West Coast. A fourth branch was established
in Jerusalem in 1963 to serve as a post-doctoral school of archaeological
and biblical studies. Since 1970, it has grown to serve as the center
for the College-Institute's Year-in-Israel Program, Israel Rabbinical
Program, and as the academic center for the Progressive Movement
Today, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is an
international seminary and university of graduate studies offering
a wide variety of academic and professional programs. In addition
to its Rabbinical School, the College-Institute includes Schools
of Graduate Studies, Education, Jewish Communal Service, Sacred
Music, and Biblical Archaeology.