College Commons


Join The College Commons: 

Real-Time Conversations and Q&A with HUC-JIR Scholars Live-Streamed to Your Synagogue

  • The Mystery of The Dead Sea Scrolls: Rabbi Joshua Garroway, Ph.D., and Dean Joshua Holo, Ph.D.  - Sunday, February 28, 2016 @ 9:30 am
  • Rebirth in Germany?:  Dr. Sharon Gillerman and Dean Joshua Holo, Ph.D. - Tuesday, April 5, 2016 @ 7:00 pm

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Coming December 2015: 

“Where is God in Reform Judaism?” - A Digital Seminar

HUC-JIR scholars delve into this question in a four-part video series for synagogue learning. Enrolled participants log in and stream the seminar, which also includes Q&A videos to complement each part.

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Previous College Commons Sections:

Armed with Scripture: Qur’an and Torah as Weapons in the War of Ideas

December 2015

We tend to call on the authority of religious texts to validate our own views. When those views, however, get adversarial, sacred texts also become militant ones. Rabbi Tamara Cohn Eskenazi, Ph.D., Effie Wise Ochs Professor of Biblical Literature and History at HUC-JIR in Los Angeles, is an award-winning scholar and Editor of The Torah: A Women’s Commentary and the first woman appointed as professor to the rabbinical faculty of HUC-JIR. Edina Lekovic is the former Director of Policy and Program at Muslim Public Affairs Council. She also serves on the board of NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change. She frequently acts as a national spokesperson for the American Muslim community. Rabbi Sarah Bassin is the associate rabbi at Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills. She serves on the boards of NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change and Joshua Venture Group. Prior to joining Temple Emanuel, Rabbi Bassin served as executive director of NewGround.  Joshua Holo, Ph.D., Dean of the Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles and associate professor of Jewish history, publishes on the Jews of the medieval Mediterranean.


Our Jewish Future: Revolutionizing Bar/Bat Mitzvah 

October 2015

The bar/bat mitzvah, so fixed in our imagination as a major religious and cultural coming-of-age, is ready for change. The B’nai Mitzvah Revolution is re-imagining the ceremony, to better engage youth and families in Jewish life. Dr. Isa Aron, Professor in the HUC-JIR Rhea Hirsch School of Education, founded the Experiment in Congregational Education and the B’nai Mitzvah Revolution, both joint projects of HUC-JIR and the Union for Reform Judaism. Rabbi Becky Hoffman is the Religious School director and associate rabbi at Temple Kol Tikvah in Woodland Hills, CA. Dr. Joshua Holo, Dean of HUC-JIR's Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles and Associate Professor of Jewish History, publishes on the Jews of the medieval Mediterranean.


Death by Success? Walking the Tightrope of Identity

April 2015

Jews forever straddle their unique, minority identity and the majority culture around them. We come by it honestly. Since the Bible itself, Jews have navigated multiple cultures—sometimes conflicting ones—simultaneously. Professors Garroway and Zelkowicz will discuss with Dean Holo the various strategies we have employed over the millennia, as a minority group, to manage and embrace host cultures while keeping true to our unique minority identity. 


Zionism and Crisis

February 2015

The Arab-Israeli conflict has taken on new contours, and progressive Jews are challenged to navigate and reimagine the challenges and possibilities of Zionism. Dean Holo and Rabbi John L. Rosove discuss not only the conflict but also Israel’s character as a Jewish democracy.


Bully Pulpit: Torah with a Point of View 

December 2014

What's the bottom line? What does Judaism really expect of us at the end of the day? Rabbi Richard Levy, Rabbi of the Synagogue and Director of Spiritual Growth at our Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles and one of Reform Judaism's leading thinkers, argues: study, prayer, and good deeds. In that much, he follows the ancient rabbis. Here, he challenges us with his own take on what that means today.


Anti-Semitism: Roots and Reality

November 2014

European racism and anti-Semitism are on the rise, and though American Jews enjoy the most successful time in our history, we face stereotypes and anti- Israel movements with increasing uncertainty. Dr. Joshua Holo, Dean of HUC-JIR's Jack H. Skirball Campus, will plumb the fears expressed by the Jewish community with David Lehrer, who approaches the problem from a different angle, and challenges us to face up to good news. 


Politics and the Pulpit

September 2014

In the Reform world, social action is often inextricably linked to political action. And when politics appear on the pulpit, controversy sometimes surfaces. Either the topic is difficult or the very notion of politics on the pulpit is itself divisive. Rabbi Stephanie Kolin discusses with Dr. Joshua Holo, Dean of HUC-JIR's Jack H. Skirball Campus, why the stakes are so high, and how difficult it is to put your finger on the nature of the problem when we don’t even agree on what constitutes “politics.” 


How Jewish is Christianity?

May 2014

Jews and Christians alike realize that Christianity was born in a Jewish context. This College Commons encounter between Dr. Joshua Holo, Dean of HUC-JIR's Jack H. Skirball Campus, and Rabbi Joshua Garroway, Ph.D., Pofessor of Early Christianity and Second Commonwealth, will dissect the complicated relationship between these intimate strangers, and consider the implications for today.

From Arab Spring to Arab Summer - Or Winter? Fault Lines in the Arab and Muslim Worlds

December 2013

Join us at College Commons for a discussion with Dr. Joshua Holo, Dean of HUC-JIR's Jack H. Skirball Campus, and Rabbi Reuven Firestone, Ph.D., Professor of Medieval Judaism and Islam.


A Forum on the 2013 Pew Study of Jewish Americans

October 2013

Join us for the inaugural session of College Commons: A Forum on the 2013 Pew Study of Jewish Americans with Sarah Bunin Benor, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies; Bruce A. Phillips, Ph.D, Professor of Jewish Communal Service; and Steven Windmueller, Ph.D., Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk Emeritus Professor of Jewish Communal Service and Former Director, School of Jewish Communal Service, in discussion with Jack H. Skirball Campus Dean Joshua Holo, Ph.D.