Ordination in New York
Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) educates individuals for service to the Reform Movement and the Jewish people worldwide as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths.
Dr. Andrew Rehfeld was elected by the HUC-JIR Board of Governors to serve as HUC-JIR’s 13th President on December 18, 2001 and began his tenure on April 1, 2019. A leading political scientist and distinguished Jewish communal leader, Dr. Rehfeld’s career has bridged both the academic and professional worlds as Associate Professor of Political Science at Washington University (2001 to 2019) and as President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis (2012 to 2019). Building on the success of Rabbi Aaron D. Panken, Ph.D., z”l, Dr. Rehfeld brings bold ideas and dynamic leadership to propel HUC-JIR to the furthest reaches of excellence.
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America’s premier institution of Jewish higher education and the center for professional leadership development of Reform Judaism. A multi-campus academic and spiritual learning community, HUC-JIR builds vibrant progressive Judaism in North America, Israel, and around the globe by:
Zelikow School of Jewish Nonprofit Management seminar
In recent years, HUC-JIR has continued to build on its reputation in the Jewish world and beyond by maximizing the impact of its four campuses, bolstering its financial independence, and providing leadership for a changing religious world in North America and Israel. Some of those accomplishments have strengthened the College-Institute financially.
For example, HUC-JIR has:
HUC-JIR has expanded its reach in North America with the following achievements:
The Taube Family Campus in Jerusalem is the center of religious pluralism in Israel. In recent years HUC-JIR has:
Pines School of Graduates Studies biblical archaeology studies in Cincinnati
At HUC-JIR, students enjoy opportunities to develop as leaders of the global Reform Movement as well as diverse communities throughout North America, Israel, and around the world.
As students prepare to become rabbis, cantors, leaders in Jewish education, Jewish nonprofit professionals, pastoral counselors, or scholars, they are guided by world-class faculty and enjoy a welcoming student community driven by innovation, social consciousness, and intellectual meaning. Students study side-by-side with future colleagues across diverse fields and faiths and have access to the broadest range of professional development experiences leading to career placement.
HUC-JIR’s academic programs include:
Year-In-Israel students at the Jerusalem Pride Parade
Students: With an enrollment of about 400 full-time students and 800 part-time education students, graduate studies students, and undergraduate students at USC and Xavier University, HUC-JIR has the largest number of rabbinical, cantorial, Jewish education, Jewish nonprofit management, and graduate studies students of all Jewish seminaries in North America. Students benefit from HUC-JIR’s exceptional resources, including the Klau Library (the second largest Jewish library in the world) and the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives with its 15 million documents recording American Jewish history and preserving Reform congregational and institutional records. HUC-JIR awarded 130 degrees during the 2017-2018 academic year in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York.
Faculty: HUC-JIR’s world-class faculty are transforming contemporary understanding of Jewish text, pedagogy, and community building. HUC-JIR students enjoy nurturing mentored relationships, an extraordinarily low faculty-to-student ratio, and daily guidance and support from some of Judaism’s best minds. Leading scholar-practitioners provide professional development training that prepares students for the real-life challenges awaiting them. HUC-JIR faculty are internationally recognized for their scholarship, teaching, and mentorship of the Reform Movement’s professional and lay leaders and for cutting-edge research in the areas of Jewish studies, Jewish educational leadership, spirituality, pastoral counseling, Judaism and sexual orientation, Judaism and health, and Jewish-Muslim engagement.
Alumni: HUC-JIR is proud of its 4,000 active alumni throughout North America, Israel, and around the world, leading:
The College-Institute values the continuing participation of its alumni in recruitment, fundraising, curriculum development, and strategic engagement across the campuses.
HUC-JIR is an international institution with four campuses and a global outreach capacity through distance education programs. HUC-JIR is strategically situated to maximize student recruitment, expand student and faculty field service to congregations and communities, enrich educational outreach, and sustain support. All HUC-JIR North American rabbinical, cantorial, and full-time education students are required to spend their first year of study at the Taube Family Campus in Jerusalem, where they establish lifelong ties to Israel that they later transmit as leaders of congregations, organizations, and communities worldwide. Students in the nonprofit management and graduate studies programs participate in intensive Israel Seminars at our Taube Family Campus in Jerusalem.
Cincinnati: Students from around the world pursue their studies on the Cincinnati campus in the Rabbinical School and Pines School of Graduate Studies, and have access to the internationally renowned resources of the Klau Library, Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, and the Skirball Museum. Congregations benefit from the proximity of HUC-JIR’s students who provide necessary services; many of these congregations could not otherwise afford the services of a rabbinical, cantorial, education, or synagogue management intern. Among the Union for Reform Judaism’s nearly 900 congregations, there are over 400 small synagogues, many of which survive through the service of monthly and biweekly student interns who commute from the nearest regional campus. Large congregations, similarly, thrive through the services of HUC-JIR students as rabbinical, cantorial, educational, and youth group interns, and religious school student teachers.
Los Angeles: The Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles includes the Rabbinical School, the Rhea Hirsch School of Education, the Zelikow School of Jewish Nonprofit Management, and students have access to the resources of the Frances-Henry Library and Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health, and enrichment offered by exhibitions. The Louchheim School of Judaic Studies provides Judaic studies courses for undergraduate students at the University of Southern California.
New York City: Students come to the New York campus to study in the Rabbinical School, the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music, the School of Education, and the Interfaith Doctor of Ministry Program. Students have access to a wide variety of resources including the Klau Library, the Dr. Bernard Heller Museum, and the Blaustein Center for Pastoral Counseling. Students also have the opportunity to participate in meaningful projects and initiatives, including the New York Campus Soup Kitchen, the Spirituality Initiative, and the Be Wise Fellowship in Jewish Entrepreneurship.
Jerusalem: HUC-JIR is the only Progressive North American seminary with a full campus in Israel, located on historic King David Street in the center of Jerusalem. The Taube Family Campus in Jerusalem is the headquarters for the Reform Movement in Israel, including the World Union for Progressive Judaism, Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, Union for Reform Judaism, and Israel Religious Action Center. HUC-JIR prepares Israeli rabbis, educators, and pastoral counselors who are pioneering religious pluralism in the Jewish State and serving the global Jewish people. Scholars and students from around the world are enriched by the excavations and publications of the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology, and the resources of the Abramov Library and Skirball Museum. The Murstein Synagogue welcomes the community for services and holidays.
The growth of HUC-JIR’s four campuses has created a university distinguished for its depth and breadth of offerings. By utilizing these extensive resources and facilities, HUC-JIR is uniquely able to train transformational leaders and create innovative programs for the Reform Movement, the Jewish people, and the larger world.
URJ Biennial Convention, Boston, 2017
HUC-JIR works closely with our partner institutions of the Reform Movement, including the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), representing the nearly 900 congregations and 1.5 million Reform Jews in North America; the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), the Reform rabbinate’s international professional organization; the American Conference of Cantors (ACC), and the Association of Reform Jewish Educators (ARJE). In addition, HUC-JIR works together with the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ), linking Reform congregations around the globe; the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism (IMPJ), the umbrella organization for Reform congregations and institutions in Israel; and Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ), among many others.
The Board of Governors: The Board of Governorsis legally invested with the governance of all four locations of the College-Institute. The Board bears ultimate responsibility for the operations and activities of HUC-JIR. The Board of Governors is comprised of fifty-five members, including the President who serves ex-officio. The Board meets annually on each stateside campus and travels to Israel every three years, at a minimum. Board members come from across North America and Israel. The committees of the Board of Governors are concerned with all aspects of life and activity at the College-Institute and are the primary bodies through which the Board operates.
Senior Administration: The senior administration of the College-Institute sits across its four campuses and is composed of the Provost, three Vice Presidents, and four campus Deans. The Director of the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives also reports directly to the President.
Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music students
HUC-JIR, North America’s pre-eminent progressive seminary, is approaching its 140th anniversary. In light of this significant milestone, it, like other universities and seminaries, is working to balance innovation and improvement with efficiency and sustainability. HUC-JIR is continuously advancing and in recent years has celebrated many successes, while tackling challenges as well.
In 2014, HUC-JIR released a strategic plan that has guided its work since then around five strategic pillars:
Thought Leadership: HUC-JIR will develop a thought leadership initiative that will expand its reach via creative use of technology, teaching to key audiences for recruitment and development, and offering resources and educational opportunities for alumni and lay leaders in partnership with appropriate organizations. This will strive to enhance HUC-JIR’s position as a vibrant intellectual center for scholarship, research, and learning within the Reform Jewish community and the Jewish world.
Recruitment and Admissions: HUC-JIR will evaluate, reshape, and implement new recruitment and admissions strategies that will raise the number of quality incoming students across all programs and create a new generation of first-rate Reform Jewish leaders to serve the Jewish people and the world.
Sustainability and Growth: HUC-JIR will continue to build and sustain its future and its funding, while supporting the Reform Movement and its congregations and organizations. It will develop new sources of revenue and fundraising, enhanced efficiency in its operations, and broader pluralistic outreach, making the institution more widely relevant, financially sustainable, and self-sufficient.
Curriculum: HUC-JIR will create a process for the review and redesign of its various curricula and programmatic offerings, starting with the Rabbinical School, in order to prepare students to meet the needs and challenges of the changing Jewish world. One specific focus of this process will be to examine the Hebrew skills of students and how HUC-JIR can enhance language learning through creative new means in Jerusalem and the stateside campuses. HUC-JIR will also evaluate its faculty, library, and archival resources for their appropriateness, relevance, and accessibility.
Israel: HUC-JIR will continue the process of crafting HUC-JIR’s key role in building and sustaining the Israeli Reform Movement, advocating for Progressive and Reform values in the State of Israel, and strengthening the relationship between Israel and Jews all over the world.
With much of the 2014 plan now implemented, the Board of Governors and staff have taken steps to design a new plan that can guide the institution going forward. This planning was interrupted due to Rabbi Panken’s death but will be continued under the leadership of the next President.
HUC-JIR is committed to advancing academic excellence while supporting fiscal sustainability. HUC-JIR’s endowment of over $500,000 per student provides for significant support of ongoing operations and the ability to successfully surmount economic cycles. HUC-JIR’s endowment of over $200 million as of December 2017 experienced one-year and five-year annual returns of 14.1% and 8.8% respectively.
Over the previous five fiscal years, HUC-JIR’s revenue ranged between $46 million and $52 million with similar expectations for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2018. Revenue is comprised of 20% Union of Reform Judaism congregational dues, 15% student tuition and fees, 40% gifts and grants, 20% investment income, and 5% contracted instruction and other revenue. HUC-JIR’s students received over $4.9 million in scholarship, stipends, and student assistance with scholarships covering 57% of tuition requirements.
HUC-JIR maintains a focus on disciplined operations, cost control, and efficiency improvement to continue solidifying its sustainable financial future. Instruction, academic support, and student stipends comprise nearly two-thirds of its operating budget.
HUC-JIR continues to meet its fundraising goals. General goals of annual and targeted fundraising include, but are not limited to, the following:
In fiscal year 2018, HUC-JIR raised significant operating and endowment funds:
Unrestricted: $3.4 million
Restricted: $13.7 million
Endowment: $3.89 million
The plans to launch a new comprehensive fundraising campaign in the Fall of 2018 were put on hold after the death of Rabbi Panken. HUC-JIR launched a successful campaign that raised over $12 million to name and endow the Rabbi Aaron D. Panken Professors on each of its four campuses. In partnership with the next President, future campaign planning will recommence.