On the cover: Newly arrived Year-in-Israel rabbinical, cantorial, and education students in Jerusalem.
“The numbers may not be great, but the need is. Jews in the Southern United States are as passionately committed to their own and their children’s Jewish education as any in the world. Because of the scarcity of Jewish professionals in the South and because of the strong cultural imperative to affiliate religiously in this part of the country, Jews here work terribly hard for their Jewish education and identification. I find the circumstances and the spirit of Southern Jewry fascinating, inspiring, and very moving. The opportunity to make a difference here – not to mention the challenge of creating a new position and a new kind of rabbinate – was too compelling for me to pass up.... Most fundamentally, I hope to make it easier for Jews to be Jewish in the South.”
Rabbi Debra Kassoff (C ’03), Director of Rabbinic Services for the Institute of Southern Jewish Life
“A s a religious school teacher and a youth group and camp songleader since the 1970s, I have always loved sharing and teaching Jewish music. I was a founding member, accompanist and section leader of Kol Dodi, a Jewish community choir in New Jersey. I sing, compose and arrange music for Beged Kefet, a group of seven singers, devoted to tzedakah. The group, now completing its third recording, includes my wife, Beth, and five friends who are rabbis and cantors. I left my job of 17 years as a senior computer security systems programmer to become a cantor and devote myself to that which I love so much. In the coming year, I will be leading services at Shir Shalom, the Reform Temple of Suffern, NY, and at Temple Isaiah in Lexington, MA, as well as teaching in the religious school at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun Barnert Temple in Franklin Lakes, NJ.”
Cantor Leon Sher (N ’03)
“A s a religious school teacher and a youth group and camp songleader since the 1970s, I have always loved sharing and teaching Jewish music. I was a founding member, accompanist and section leader of Kol Dodi, a Jewish community choir in New Jersey. I sing, compose and arrange music for Beged Kefet, a group of seven singers, devoted to tzedakah. The group, now completing its third recording, includes my wife, Beth, and five friends who are rabbis and cantors. I left my job of 17 years as a senior computer security systems programmer to become a cantor and devote myself to that which I love so much. In the coming year, I will be leading services at Shir Shalom, the Reform Temple of Suffern, NY, and at Temple Isaiah in Lexington, MA, as well as teaching in the religious school at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun Barnert Temple in Franklin Lakes, NJ.”
Cantor Leon Sher (N ’03)
The Chronicle is published by the National Office of Public Affairs.
Editor: Jean Bloch Rosensaft Assistant Editor: Ruth Friedman
Contributors: Amy Bebchick, Ginny Ben-Ari, Gerda Klein, Luke Reader, Sarah Schriever
Design: Tabak Design
Photo Credits: Isaac Harari, Andrew Higley,
Ariel Jerozolimski, Richard Lobell, Rachel Ann Miller, Marvin Steindler
In Tractate Rosh Hashanah 10b-11a in the Babylonian Talmud, the following argument is recorded, “Rabbi Eliezer says, ‘In Nisan Israel was redeemed. However, in the future Israel will be redeemed in Tishri.’ Rabbi Joshua says, ‘In Nisan Israel was redeemed. Israel will be redeemed in the future in Nisan as well.’”
The debate here is seemingly insignificant – an arcane point of speculation akin to the proverbial disputation among medieval scholastics as to how many angels dance on the head of a pin. If this debate were no more than a speculative discussion concerning the date of a future redemption, then it would indeed be of little consequence – a trivial argument incapable of empirical resolution.
However, what distinguishes Rabbi Eliezer from Rabbi Joshua in this gemara is much more important than such a literal reading of the passage would suggest. For this argument masks a philosophicalreligious dispute as to the nature of redemption itself.
Nisan is the month of Passover, the time when the Jewish people were redeemed from Egypt. The redemption that informs Passover is one the tradition states was marked by hesed – grace. The deeds performed by ‘am yisrael did not earn the people their freedom. Rather, the liberation from Egyptian bondage was solely the result of divine mercy. God redeemed Israel despite their lack of merit.
Tishri is the month of the Yamim Noraim, the High Holy Day season when Israel stands before God in judgment. In contrast to Nisan, the redemption that comes forth during Tishri is the result of human performance. The acts that an individual and a people carry out play a large part in determining whether redemption will occur. When Rabbi Eliezer maintains, “In the future, Israel will be redeemed in Tishri,” he reminds us that our deeds are crucial and that our accomplishments are capable of mending the world.
As the days of Tishri approach and as we prepare for the High Holy Days this religious message is a critical one that affirms the role that God calls upon us to play as covenantal partners in the process of tikkun ‘olam. This issue of The Chronicle seeks to demonstrate that HUC-JIR confirms its faith in this message through the activities that unfold among our students, faculty, and alumni.
In this issue brief accounts are provided of the diverse career paths three of our recent graduates have taken as they attempt each in their own way to improve the world. We also celebrate our largest entering class in over a decade, and allow our incoming students to speak for themselves as to their aspirations as they embark upon their careers of service to the Jewish people and religion. The heartening story of how so many of our first year students in Israel during the last academic year served the Jewish community of the FSU during their Passover vacation reflects the commitments that inform our students as they prepare for their vocations. And the phenomenal growth of the Miller High School Honors Program is also celebrated as the College-Institute attempts to play a role in the education of a future generation of Jewish leaders.
HUC-JIR regards its responsibility to educate our students as a sacred trust, and our Provost Norman Cohen reports on the new rabbinical core curriculum that has been inaugurated at HUC-JIR this year under his direction. This initiative has far-ranging implications for every program at our school, and Rabbi Cohen describes the substance and the hopes that inform and motivate this initiative as our institution attempts to fulfill its mandate as a school of applied scholarship.
Of course, this means that scholarship must remain at the heart of our enterprise. Learning is what grants authenticity to our institution. Articles on the unparalleled scholarly contributions that have made Michael Meyer the preeminent modern Jewish historian in the world as well as the many academic accomplishments of our alumni testify to the central role HUC-JIR accords scholarship. William Cutter indicates how the recent Festschrift he co-edited in honorof Professor Arnold Band of UCLA reflects the ongoing academic commitments and contributions of our faculty. And the profile on Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and the exciting and original Women’s Commentary on Torah that she is now editing under the sponsorship of the Women of Reform Judaism indicates how HUC-JIR is at the forefront of creative academic and religious commentary and research. The exploits of our faculty members Sara Lee and David Weisberg in China are reported and a preview of the forthcoming faculty lecture series at Florida Atlantic University as well as educational opportunities for alumni and adult learners are also provided in these pages. The reach of the College-Institute through the scholarship of our faculty and alumni is truly global.
In all these ways the College-Institute seeks to discharge the task assigned the Jewish people by God and articulated by Rabbi Eliezer. Tishri bids us acknowledge the need for human action and asserts that redemption is contingent upon our human aims and achievements. We celebrate such aims and achievements in the pages of this journal, and remain committed to such tasks and ends.
May all of you who read these words observe a meaningful High Holy Day season, and to all of you I would offer the traditional Sephardic salutation for this time of year, “Tizku l’shanim rabbot – May you merit many years of joy and accomplishment.”
Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D.
By Sarah H. Schriever
In order to best serve Reform Judaism and klal yisrael, HUC-JIR has made recruitment a priority. We are proud to say that our efforts have paid off with an extremely promising and large incoming class. In fact, this year’s rabbinical admissions of 65 students is the largest in 25 years and both the number of applicants and the number of students accepted to the rabbinical program has increased 57% in the past 5 years.
Our cantorial, education, Jewish communal service, and graduate studies programs have also seen increases in applications and acceptances, and we are committed to advancing their continued growth.
The Chronicle surveyed our incoming students to get an idea of who they are, why they are attending our programs, and what their aspirations are. Their responses were as varied and as interesting as they are.
Because HUC-JIR’s programs attract students of all ages and from varied backgrounds, their life experiences and skills are extremely diverse.
Our incoming students come from all over the country and the world, including Houston, TX, Atlanta, GA, New York, NY, Epernay, France, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Toronto, Canada. They come to us with degrees from institutions such as Amherst College, Colgate University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Indiana University, Northwestern University, University of California Berkley and Los Angeles, University of Cologne, University of Pennsylvania, Wellesley College, and Yale University; they have completed their undergraduate degrees in a variety of majors, for example, African studies, Japanese studies, chemical engineering, human development, and theater. Many have advanced degrees in fields such as social work, education, and law. It is no surprise that many of our incoming students have had first careers as attorneys, journalists, social workers, opera singers, and educators; we also welcome a former international film distributor, an epidemiologist, and a press secretary to a U.S. Senator.
For both first and second career students, the decision to enter HUC-JIR’s programs has been influenced by many factors.
For Rachel Greengrass, an entering rabbinical student, the decision to follow this career path was simple: "Being a rabbi combines all the things I wanted to be when I grew up." Andrew Goodman concurs: “All of the important aspects of my life are encompassed by this career path, and any other career would not have provided me with the balance of education, spirituality, politics, Judaism, and interpersonal work.” Other students came to this decision through a less direct path. Lisa Helfman, who is entering our School of Jewish Communal Service, was working as a Health Educator. She explains, “I realized that I was enjoying my volunteer work in my synagogue and with the UAHC and found it to be more rewarding than my professional job. I decided to turn my volunteer work into a profession.” Similarly, Rachel Pasternack, who is entering our School of Sacred Music, explains, “I have enjoyed cantorial soloing for some years now and I would like to become a full-fledged cantor.”
For many of our incoming students, the decision to pursue a career as a rabbi, cantor, Jewish educator, or Jewish communal service professional has been influenced by other Jewish professionals.
Joanna Mass Alexander wants to be a congregational cantor. She explains that her synagogue did not have a cantor until she was 16, when Cantor Deborah Bard (N ’85) began working with her congregation. “I found an outlet and career prospect for my love of Judaism, one that was connected to my love of singing.” For Joshua Strom, the person who most influenced his decision to become a rabbi is his father “a rabbi in the Movement, who has been a first-rate example of a wonderful rabbi who touches the lives of his congregants and friends. He is there to console people in times of unimaginable loss and rejoice with them in beautiful simchas.” Ariana Silverman, an entering rabbinical student, attributes her decision to become a rabbi to her experiences at UAHC summer camp, her involvement with Hillel, and her year as a legislative assistant for Coalition for the Environment in Jewish Life and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.
Other students have decided to become Jewish professionals after realizing that they want more fulfilling careers or that they want to serve their people.
Dean Shapiro, an entering rabbinical student who was working in international film distribution, explains, “I decided to look for another career which I thought would give me a stronger sense of fulfillment, allow me to explore my interests in depth, better utilize my skills, and encourage profound encounters with people.” Thomas A. Gardner, also an entering rabbinical student, was helping foreign nationals in his job as a consular worker when he realized that he would like to apply his efforts towards helping his own people. Cookie Lea Olshein, also an entering rabbinical student, states, “I wanted to be able to incorporate Judaism into my professional life and make more of a difference than I was able to make as an attorney.”
Many of the students in our School of Graduate studies are of other faiths. Entering student Chad Bird explains that by studying at HUC-JIR he hopes to deepen his knowledge of the Hebrew Bible, especially as it was interpreted by Jews and early Christians in order to better instruct the seminary students he teaches.
Our students come with high expectations for their studies at HUC-JIR and we look forward to meeting them.
Nicole Leiser, an entering rabbinical student, says, “I hope to meet incredible people who will become friends and colleagues, to learn from some of the brightest Jewish scholars of today, and to begin my journey to become the best rabbi and educator that I can be.” Brian Stollar, an entering rabbinical student, adds, “I expect that I will have intense intellectual and spiritual experiences. I look forward to learning all that I possibly can about Jewish history, tradition, and religious thought, and to developing the skills I will need to be an effective rabbi.” April Quinn, an entering Rhea Hirsh School of Education student, tells us, “I expect a quality education that will enable me to secure an excellent job in the Jewish community while enriching my own personal experience of Judaism. I hope to be guided in a nurturing environment that encourages individuality.”
Foremost on many of our incoming student’s minds is the Year-in-Israel Program, which is required of all first year rabbinical, cantorial, and Rhea Hirsch School of Education students.
Notwithstanding our student’s concern fora successful resolution of the current conflict, they are approaching the Year-in Israel Program with enthusiasm and excitement to be living and learning in the land all Jews can call home. Entering rabbinical student Deborah Michelle Marcus tells us, “I am eagerly awaiting the start of my studies in Israel. There is no better place to begin rabbinical training than in the very heart and home of the Jewish people. I believe it is extremely important as future leaders to show solidarity with Israel, not only in good times but in difficult times, not only with financial contributions, but with presence of mind and body.”
Our students’ career aspirations are varied and we are proud to see that they will bring the skills they learn here to communities throughout the world.
Grant Tetsut is entering our Graduate Studies program in order to study the original languages in which the Bible was written. He plans to work in East Africa translating the Bible. Delphine Horvilleur, an entering New York School of Education student, wants to return to her native France to create adult Jewish studies programs and help bring the Reform Movement to Europe. Ariel Jenick is entering our School of Jewish Communal Service in order to help the Jewish community in his native Argentina. Gersh Lazarow hopes to “return to an Australian congregation and grow old as its rabbi.”
Lisa Helfman hopes that her studies in the School of Jewish Communal Service will prepare her “to work in a synagogue or JCC as a program/membership director. My special areas of interest include doing outreach to Jews in their 20s and 30s to keep them connected to Judaism.” Entering rabbinical student Esther Lederman is also interested in outreach; she tells us “I want to work with young Jews, especially those who believe that Judaism has nothing of value to them. I want to show how Judaism can allow us to make more meaningful life choices.” Entering rabbinical student Daniel Mikelberg sees himself as a congregational rabbi. Andrew Gordon is not yet certain where his rabbinical studies will lead him, but he would like to “work in a small congregation or to explore his love of informal Jewish education, perhaps through camping or youth work.”
Entering rabbinical student Laura Baum sums up the feelings expressed by most of our students when she says, “It will be an honor and a privilege to serve the Reform Movement and klal yisrael.”
All percentages are based on 65 respondents.
United States: 91%
(students with dual citizenship have been counted in both categories)
Divorced or Widowed 0%
Do you have children?
Yes: 12% (children’s ages range from 6 months to 26 years)
Highest degree obtained:
Bachelor’s Degree: 63%
Master’s Degree: 20%
Affiliation of Childhood Congregation:
Secular Israeli Household: 1.5%
Not Raised Jewish: 5%
Did you attend the following?
Sunday School: 83%
Afternoon Hebrew School: 62%
Jewish Day School: 23%
Jewish High School (full-time): 1.5%
Jewish High School (part-time): 23%
Adult Education Programs: 54%
Seminary: HUC-JIR 8%, Leo Baeck 1.5%
Did you attend a Jewish Summer Camp?
Yes 66% (34% attended a UAHC Camp; 58% worked as a counselor or staff member)
Did you belong to a Jewish Youth Group?
Yes 72% (49% belonged to a Reform Movement Youth Group)
Were you involved in a Jewish organization on your university campus?
Yes 68% (49% were involved in Hillel; 54% held leadership positions)
Were (are) you involved in leadership positions in your congregation?
Have you ever visited Israel?
Rank the influences that were most important in your decision to follow this career path:
26% are relatives of a rabbi, cantor, educator, or Jewish professional
List what attracted you to HUC-JIR:
I wanted to attend a Reform Seminary
List your preferences for your future rabbinical career:
Rabbi in organizational position
by Ruth Friedman
Though estimates vary on the total Jewish population in the FSU, the American Joint Distribution Committee estimates that 1.5 million Jews live there. Of that number, 78% live in Russia (600,000), the Ukraine (500,000), and Belarus (75,000). Over the past 15 years, the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) has established almost 100 Progressive Jewish congregations in these countries. However, only 3 Progressive rabbis serve the entire Jewish community of the FSU. Lay leaders, some of whom train in Moscow at the WUPJ’s Machon Institute for training of Jewish community leaders, lead the majority of the congregations.
With the great need for trained Jewish Progressive leadership in mind, a group of first-year HUC-JIR students realized their dream: to celebrate Passover with 22 FSU Reform/Progressive communities. The idea for this trip was sparked months earlier, during orientation to the Year-in-Israel program, when the students were inspired by a presentation made by Rabbi Grigory Kotlyar (J ’01), who serves as a Progressive rabbi in Moscow. Two first-year rabbinical students, Ari Poster and Stacey Nolish, conceptualized this project, approached the WUPJ, and interested and organized fellow students to join them. Their one-week trip made a significant contribution to the Jewish communities and left a lasting impact on all involved. The students toured towns that had once been centers of Jewish learning and culture before the destruction of the Holocaust and years of Soviet repression. They found Jewish life beginning to thrive once again.
Sixteen first-year rabbinical, cantorial, and education students at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem, two of their spouses, and an Israeli HUC-JIR rabbinical student led seders and Shabbat services, taught in Progressive kindergartens and led children’s activities, and met with congregational leaders, a b’nai mitzvah class, and youth groups. This extraordinary program was a true partnership with the WUPJ, facilitated by Rabbi Joel Oseran, who is one of the prime builders of the Progressive Movement in the FSU.
Divided into groups of two or three, and traveling by bus, car, and train up to 20 hours to reach towns spanning across Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, each group visited three cities on average and assisted the Jewish communities with all aspects of their religious and communal lives.
In Polotsk, Belarus, rabbinical students Stacey Nolish, Mike Satz, and Jessica Oleon participated in a Chesed program for the elderly held in a building formerly the local Communist headquarters, with its sign still on the door. The students were moved by this opportunity to celebrate the holiday of liberation in the face of this symbol of a regime that had denied Jews of their religious freedom.
In Baronovichi, Belarus, rabbinical student Ari Poster and her husband, David Bigham, visited a religious school in a former Jewish shtetl that had enrolled 200 students before the Shoah. Today, 15 students are enrolled. According to their tour guide, “These fifteen students’ families are reclaiming our past and redeeming our history.” The HUC-JIR students met with the students’ families and their principal.
In Bobruisk, Belarus, rabbinical student Micah Streiffer, his wife Kim – an education student, and rabbinical student Karen Thomashow noticed that the Netzer youth group did not have a mezuzah on the doorpost of their all-purpose room, nor did they have Shabbat candlesticks. Using clay they had brought from Israel for this purpose, the students joined with the teenagers to make Shabbat candlesticks. The students also donated a mezuzah, which the teenagers affixed, thus reclaiming their Jewish heritage.
In Tula, Russia, students Jonathan Jaffe and Ann Folb joined 60 Russian Jews crowded into a small community center room for the Passover seder. The room was unchanged from the days of the Soviet regime, with a huge mural of Lenin painted on the front wall. Jaffe and Fold thought it symbolic to celebrate the holiday of freedom overshadowed by this remnant of years of oppression. Led in Russian and Hebrew, the evening was filled with hours of singing and dancing. “This night was especially wonderful because the community was so excited to celebrate the holiday with us and they really led with their enthusiasm,” Jaffe recalls. “They were all so happy to have visitors in a town which is the center of gun manufacturing in Russia and not a popular tourist site. We made the seder as interactive as possible, with members of the community reading parts, acting others out, and singing with us.” As Jaffe played “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav” on his guitar during the meal, a group of elderly women began to sing along, with great emotion; they later waltzed around the room to “Tumbalalaika.” They were joined by teenagers loudly singing “Hava Nagila” and asking lots of questions about the HUC-JIR students’ lives in America and Israel. Jaffe and Folb had their own questions: What is it like to have to rebuild your community after the fall of Communism? How did you keep you community together during that era? What is it like to live without roots, only to discover them later?
The students’ activities included:
As Ari Poster recalls, “The trip was amazing. It was so moving to come as Reform Jews and to share the same music, same ideology, and same Siddur. We celebrated our commonalities, asked questions, answered questions, shared ideas and stories, and came away with a much wider concept of the word Kehila [community].”
With assistance from the WUPJ and the Jewish Agency, HUC-JIR, the first-year students, colleagues, families, and friends raised over $20,000 to cover travel expenses, art supplies and Judaica (mezuzot and kiddush cups) that were given to the local communities. Students also brought Reform Haggadot, translated into Russian, donated by the CCAR.
Plans are underway for next year’s Pesach Partnership. For further information, to participate, or provide support, please contact Rose Ginosar at firstname.lastname@example.org or (02) 620-3326.
Tula, Kaluga, Moscow, Tver, Ryazan, Lipetsk, Tambov, Briansk, Orel
Simferapol, Jankoy, Vinnitsa Chernovsty, Poltava
Mogilev, Gomel, Bobruisk, Polotsk, Vitebsk, Lida, Baranovichi, Grodno
An invitation for your congregation:
The Pesach Partnership students, now studying at HUC-JIR’s stateside campuses, would love to share their stories, accompanied by a multi-media DVD program, with your congregation. To invite a student to speak at your synagogue, please contact the Dean’s Office at the center of learning closest to you.
Cincinnati: (513) 221-1875
Los Angeles: (213) 749-3424
New York: (212) 674-5300
by Dr. Norman J. Cohen, Provost
In 1997-98, the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion conducted an extended strategic planning process which was facilitated by a Working Group of eleven representatives of the Faculty, Administration, and the Board of Governors. This process consisted of a protracted self-study which involved a series of focus groups made up of students on each of our campuses, faculty in each location, local groups of alumni, all of our lay leadership, as well as groups of lay leaders from the wider Reform Movement. The findings pointed to the fragmentary nature of the educational experience of many of our students, the lack of integration among the academic, professional and religious components of their learning, and the need to help our students shape a clear vision for Jewish life. As a result, the Administration of the College-Institute laid out a series of shortand long-term objectives; chief among them was the creation of a new three-year integrating core curriculum for all rabbinical students.
To this end, a Core Curriculum Planning Committee was formed, involving two faculty representatives from each of our campuses, two rabbinical alumni who serve congregations, and two outside consultants, Dr. Mary Boys, the Skinner and McAlpin Professor of Practical Theology at Union Theological Seminary and expert in seminary education (see page 15), and Karen Barth, an experienced facilitator and planner. The Committee was charged with shaping a new core rabbinic curriculum leading to the M.A.H.L. degree which would:
In shaping the new core curriculum with the support of the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Committee was sensitive from the outset to the challenge of achieving greater unity without total uniformity and of creating a structure that also promotes innovation and the use of the unique resources of each campus. Therefore, in defining the curriculum, the Committee anticipated that it would not prescribe specific syllabi or course outlines, rather, stipulate the areas and subjects to be covered as well as the learning aims and goals for each. Each faculty then would have the autonomy to determine the details of each learning experience and its structure.
A. The Planning Process
At the beginning of the Committee’s work, extended discussion about the goals of our core curriculum planning took place at the first all-faculty retreat, June 14-16, 1998. The retreat involved 65 faculty members from all our campuses and helped shape the Committee’s ongoing deliberations and the methods by which additional faculty input could be garnered.
Following the faculty retreat, the Core Curriculum Planning Committee spent time initially shaping an agenda of the overarching issues that had to be addressed in our planning. It reviewed our Educational Vision for Professional Training, which had been put together as part of the wider strategic planning process, which generated many of the key questions to be answered. At the same time, the Committee reviewed all of the existing academic, cocurricular, and spirituality programs on each of our campuses, as well as current attempts at integrating the academic, professional, and religious growth of our students. In addition, we created an inventory of the curricular models in place in the other Jewish seminaries.
The Committee then had meetings with each of the faculties in New York, Cincinnati, and Los Angeles, gaining input from each on the following key questions:
At each campus meeting, we also included local rabbinical alumni in the discussions.
At the same time, our National Clinical Education Advisory Committee, chaired by Rabbi Sam Joseph and made up of representatives of our stateside campuses, held ongoing discussions about the clinical educational components of our curriculum. The Committee grappled with the goals, content, and sequencing of the training of four key rabbinical roles: educational, pastoral, liturgical, and communal/organizational. It was recommended that each of these areas have a required in-field mentored experience to complement the didactic in-class experiences, and that many of the skills involved with these roles can be honed in various settings. All of their recommendations were channeled into the core curriculum planning process.
What resulted from this extensive planning was both a list of all the areas and issues upon which there was agreement in the Committee, as well as those areas that needed additional review. Over time, it was also decided to recommend the switch to a quadmester (7 weeks) system, which would:
At the second all-faculty retreat in June 2000, which was attended by 74 HUC-JIR professors and academic administrators, the Core Curriculum Committee presented the vision, essential goals and framework for the curriculum. The overriding goal of the new curriculum is to help students develop their ability to formulate responses to enduring questions of meaning, which, in turn, are essential to the students’ ability to articulate to congregants a clear vision for Jewish life. The Committee identified a series of these questions that would require the student, in formulating a response, to hone conceptualization skills. Among these questions were:
During the Fall 2000 semester, members of the Core Curriculum Committee traveled to each stateside campus to hear the reactions and suggestions of faculty; related issues of assessment also were discussed. A curricular matrix for each year of the proposed threeyear core curriculum was then developed, noting goals for student learning and levels of proficiency by discipline, skills to be acquired, and personal characteristics to be developed.
B. Developing New Assessment Protocols
In order to develop our new, integrative core curriculum for the first three years of the rabbinical program, we also had to consider new models of assessment. While student evaluation has always been conducted through the completion of academic courses, supervised clinical internships and participation in cocurricular experiences, most of this evaluation reinforces the separation between students’ academic, professional, and religious formation. The new model of assessment, proposed by a national task force chaired by Professor Michael Zeldin and the Core Curriculum Planning Committee and educational consultants, focuses on and deepens students’ capacity to synthesize these areas of growth.
As a result of the work of the Task Force on Assessment, it was agreed that the new protocols for assessment should both:
The Task Force underscored the relationship of assessment to teaching, learning, and the goals of the new curriculum:
The Task Force suggested that portfolios be submitted to selected faculty members for review after years one and two. At the end of year three, a standing committee on each campus would review students’ portfolios, making recommendations to the faculty, which would vote on students’ continuance to ordination or graduation with the M.A. only.
In an effort to promote the development of new approaches to educative assessment within the Core Curriculum, the most recent faculty retreat, held in June 2002, and involving 80 faculty and administrators, focused on this topic. Dr. Everett Kline, educational consultant with Understanding by Design, was the keynote speaker and discussed alternative modes of assessment with the faculty.
Grants from both the Henry Luce Foundation and the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion have made the extensive assessment planning and the necessary teacher training possible.
C. The Essence of the Core Curriculum: Learner-centered Education
Throughout its deliberations, faculty on our Core Curriculum Committee and Assessment Task Force examined assumptions about the way our students learn and ways of assessing what we care about, as well as how HUC-JIR’s culture must continue to change in order for us to institutionalize a learner-centered approach to education.
They found that, in some remarkable ways, this approach closely resembles traditional Jewish models of education in which students are asked to make sense of what they are learning, read and discourse in pairs, reflect on the application of text to everyday life, and internalize the lessons so they become part of one’s daily living.
Faculty members are key participants in this College-wide initiative. Adopting the learnercentered approach to assessment and the use of portfolios will demand that faculty give feedback that helps students improve not only what they have learned, but how. Faculty must develop new activities to deepen students’ involvement in their work and new questions to guide student discussion and analysis – activities that enable faculty to gain a broader and more holistic view of students’ academic, professional and spiritual growth.
Developing assessment protocols that focus on the integrative elements of the new curriculum will also require and result in a higher level of interdepartmental and crosscampus collaboration than currently exists. Conversations about assessment and learnercentered education will need to become more regular components of faculty meetings and informal discussion.
In addition, student reflections about their learning and subsequent discussions with faculty will provide opportunities for professional and personal growth for all participants. For self-reflection to be an integral part of academic work, an atmosphere of trust and confidence must be consciously maintained. While HUC-JIR already strives to create and maintain this environment, the adoption of learner-centered assessment approaches will require an even greater commitment to this goal.
This kind of educative assessment has the potential to aid the faculty in decisions about ordination and the students’ preparation for the rabbinate. In demonstrating what students have absorbed and integrated into their understanding of Jewish life, assessment will help students become more aware of their strengths, weaknesses, and areas for further growth. These issues, which form the basis for faculty-student dialogue, are critically important in determining whether a student proceeds to ordination.
The College-Institute’s adoption of a learnercentered approach to assessment and use of portfolios will eventually strengthen the rabbinate. The skills of self-reflection required by this approach will assist students throughout their careers of service and in pursuing lifelong study, so necessary for rabbinical growth. The open discourse with faculty will provide them with models for mentoring as they themselves are called upon to help nurture a new generation of committed Jews. Ultimately, HUC-JIR’s shift to learner-centered assessment will assist our students in truly knowing what they value, which is essential to their effectiveness in helping others to create communities of meaning.
The new Core Rabbinic Curriculum embodies both our progress and what the CollegeInstitute needs to be in three essential ways:
All of this makes tremendous demands upon each member of the faculty – yet the benefits of our investing time and energy are great. First, the challenge of being more reflective and even more creative in our teaching as we review and reshape the content of what we have taught and how we communicate it, and how we assess our students, will no doubt enhance our students’ growth. It will also enable them to forge a clearer vision of the relevance of the tradition for people’s lives. Second, the greater collaboration with colleagues from different disciplines as well as within our own areas will be personally satisfying. It will add to our own growth as teachers and scholars as it challenges us to measure our own views in relationship to those of others. Finally, the Core Curriculum in its essence places a high priority on teaching at the CollegeInstitute and, therefore, must be recognized as such by all of us. We must value the time and commitment invested by faculty in their teaching.
Amidst all of our other activity, we are devoting much energy to the implementation of the new Core Curriculum for our rabbinical program and to its relevancy for our other professional programs. We are moving ahead on each campus with the planning for our new quadmester structure and the requisite review and changes in our learning modules. The campus committees on curriculum and local faculty are working hard at reviewing the new core curriculum’s aims and goals in each learning area and adapting them to the resources, expertise, and interests of our faculty.
During the past academic year, the Los Angeles faculty and administration completed the planning for the two year (the second and third years) quadmester core curriculum structure, which will be put into effect for 2nd-year rabbinical and education students this fall on a model basis. In doing so, they dealt with all the academic policy and procedural issues and structural challenges attendant to the implementation of the core curriculum. The efforts of the Los Angeles School will help our other campuses enormously as we move forward.
In Cincinnati, emphasis on collaboration and integration emphasized at the faculty retreat was continued during the year. Faculty have focused upon opportunities for integrating learning amongst different areas as well as on how to help students attain a more integrated sense of what they have learned through new modes of assessment.
In New York, the faculty is in the final stages of shaping a model quadmester structure for the second and third years. In addition, a new integrative learning module on Reform Judaism was introduced as the program for the year-opening Kallah. This module seeks to introduce students to the critical thinking and methodological approaches that inform the entire course of study and are the bedrock of the Core Curriculum. The faculty is also working on a module on Jewish music, which is mandated by the new curriculum guidelines.
In Jerusalem, the faculty and administration are engaged in implementing key aspects of the Core Curriculum for our first-year students. These include a basic orientation to the purpose and nature of the curriculum, several new courses and seminars that integrate learning, including an integrative, thematic module on Jerusalem, and new assessment vehicles.
On a broader national level, the overall Core Curriculum Implementation Committee created two important planning vehicles to move the process forward. A Hebrew Planning Committee, chaired by Dr.William Cutter, discussed both the implementation of the new Hebrew matriculation standards as well as how we can concretize on each campus the Hebrew goals outlined in the new curriculum. Second, we have shaped a National Committee on Assessment to implement the overall approach to assessment of students as defined by the Core Curriculum, and how we can ensure that through the ongoing assessment of students, each of them is able to fulfill his/her potential.
Our forward-looking, creative new Core Rabbinic Curriculum (which also has begun to impact upon our other professional programs as they adapt to its structure and new learning modules) is now coming to fruition. Our first-year students in Jerusalem have already been introduced to the new curriculum and its overall approach and will benefit from it during this academic year. The new curriculum will be introduced on our stateside campuses in the fall of 2004 when our students return from Israel. In addition, our new higher matriculation standards in Hebrew and basic Jewish literacy will be introduced for all new applicants this year.
The new Core Rabbinic Curriculum’s overriding message is that teaching/learning are our priority and our key role is to focus on learning outcomes, how students think and understand, what they know and what they are able to do with their knowledge. Simply put, our goal is to help our students make meaning – in each learning area and throughout their overall experience at the College-Institute, and later in their professional careers. While not shying away from the daunting challenges of implementing a new curriculum and reshaping our academic life, we are all energized by the opportunity to achieve what essentially is a sea change in the culture of HUC-JIR.
by Jean Bloch Rosensaft
Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi is recognized as a groundbreaker. In 1990, she was the first woman to be hired by HUC-JIR as a full-time tenuretrack faculty member for the rabbinical school and she became the first female tenured full professor at HUC-JIR in the rabbinical school in 1995.
“My memories of those first days at HUC-JIR are twofold,” Eskenazi recalls. “First, I experienced a tremendous welcome by my colleagues, who were so pleased with the appointment. Second, I felt a great sense of responsibility to my male and female students, because they had never had a woman as their teacher at HUC-JIR. The women students felt particularly affirmed. For some, it opened up a profession of academic study that has led former students like Rabbi Andrea Weiss to become the next generation of faculty here. Today, women faculty at HUC-JIR may be taken for granted, and I’m very happy that it is. It’s nice to have moved beyond the one-and-only to one of many.”
Eskenazi’s scholarship is focused on the area of post-exilic Biblical text, an area in which she has published quite extensively and significantly. The post-exilic era, when Jews returned from exile in the 6th and 5th centuries B.C.E., “was a time as significant for them as the establishment of the State of Israel is for contemporary Jews,” she explains. Her specialization is in EzraNehemiah studies, an area chosen for several reasons.
“A key element was that this was an area much neglected in general scholarship. In fact, when I began, the writings of the postexilic era were denigrated by major figures in 19th and 20th century Biblical studies who regarded these texts and period as a time of decline. Julius Wellhausen, the 19th century scholar known for his influence on modern source criticism of the Bible, said that these texts reflected the decline into mere Judaism. For him, the Bible at its best were figures like David and the Prophets, traditions only revived at the time of Jesus. In Jewish tradition and my own assessment, however, the postexilic era was a time of enormous creativity and significant transformation, so my goal was to influence scholarship toward a reassessment. I’m happy to say that in the years since I began, this reassessment has happened, not simply because of what I did but as a consequence of a new wave of scholarship in which I participated. Today, there is clear recognition as to the significance of this period for any work on the Hebrew Bible.”
Eskenazi asserts that the post-exilic period was when the Bible was edited into the shape that we have it today. “In fact, the reason we have the Bible that we have,” she claims, has to do with the communities and conditions in the post-exilic era that influenced those communities to preserve these writings rather than some other writings. In Jewish tradition, Ezra was always appreciated as the one who was as worthy as Moses to bring the Torah.”
Eskenazi’s other field of inquiry is literary and feminist studies. “Being in Los Angeles and amidst the colleagues doing this work and within the context and community of those who had been thinking about feminist issues long before I began has been very significant,” she notes. “Dr. Rachel Adler, Rabbi Laura Geller, Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell, and I were part of a feminist criticism group, and it was possible to think seriously about those issues in conversation with other scholars and to connect my work with that of others in a very meaningful way.”
The WRJ Women’s Commentary on the Torah is an extension of these interests. Eskenazi, as Editor-in-Chief, projects that this massive undertaking will be completed in the next five years. Her editorial board includes professionals in the rabbinate, cantorate, and Jewish education as well as Biblical scholars, rabbinic scholars, and Jewish philosophers, primarily from North America, as well as from Europe and Israel. Despite the sponsorship of the WRJ, the contributors are not exclusively affiliated with the Reform Movement. “Our scholars are the best scholars in the field, regardless of their institutional affiliation,” Eskenazi notes. This is a project by women for klal yisrael.
The list of contributors is still in formation, with about 100 already engaged. The assignments number five contributors for each of the 54 Torah portions yielding nearly 300 entries for the final publication. Eskenazi, herself, will tackle the first parashah, Bereshit. There will be an introduction to each book and additional specialized articles, including topics important to women: statistics about mortality rate, life expectancy, child-rearing in ancient Israel, and women’s rituals in the Bible.
Eskenazi wants us to learn more about these rituals. “We know from the story of Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac in Genesis 21, for example, that Abraham makes a great feast when Isaac is weaned. Weaning was a very import rite of passage in the Bible, as part of the life cycle from birth, to weaning, to adulthood. In Exodus 38, there is a reference to the women who were hosting at the opening of the Tent of Meeting, which clearly suggests that they had some sort of official function – which in some English translations has been rendered as ‘ministering.’ There are many things to be learned about the way in which women contributed to the building of the Tabernacle.”
Employing an array of approaches, including historical and literary criticism and deconstruction, Eskenazi’s scholarship clearly filters into her teaching as Professor of Bible at HUC-JIR/Los Angeles. “There are two important criteria for me when I teach,” she says. “One is anticipating what our students in the rabbinical, education, and communal service professional programs need to know – familiarity with the texts and the skills to become effective interpreters of those texts – given the work that they will do when they leave HUC-JIR. The second is their own growth, so that they continue to draw sustenance and significance as human beings from study. When you are a Jewish professional, the community depends on your capacity for profundity and wisdom, as well as skills and knowledge. The Bible that I teach is not just a tool for other people, but a major life-long resource that can nurture our students and enable them to nurture others.”
Her teaching is informed by Biblical feminism, which she defines as a critical approach to text that looks at both men and women, recognizing that gender is an important element. The Bible, she believes, does not seek to promote the vested interest of males over that of females, but rather is concerned with the community as a whole and with perpetuating the traditions, the teachings, and the values to the next generation. “It is the priority of community and continuity of values that is central to Biblical text,” Eskenazi says.
“The Bible was not written in the 21st century, therefore it expresses itself in the criteria of its own time. Its writers were primarily urban people and males rather than the entire population. And so it speaks more clearly in those voices of such educated elite who were more often males,” she explains. “But it does not denigrate the intelligence and resourcefulness of women. In fact, most of the women who do appear in the Bible and have a part in the Bible, are presented as extremely resourceful – take Huldah, for example.”
Huldah is a well-known Biblical character to all of Eskenazi’s students, but little known to most others. According to Eskenazi, “Huldah, mentioned in II Kings 22, was the woman who had greater authority than probably any other woman in Jewish history – and one of the most authoritative Prophets in the Bible. She was the Prophet who authenticated the Book of Deuteronomy in 621 B.C.E., as a result of which King Josiah instituted major reforms. The reason we have the Book of Deuteronomy in our Torah is because Huldah validated it as the word of God.”
Eskenazi praises Huldah for her unquestioned authority in her time. It is a fact that the leaders of the nation went to her and not to another living Prophet, such as Jeremiah, who presumably was alive at that time. Eskenazi recounts a favorite story about this Prophet. “The rabbis were uncomfortable with Huldah’s authority and wondered whether Huldah was really a man or a woman. Someone else said, ‘well maybe it’s her husband who is the Prophet.’ And this is the part I love: we know what her husband does. He’s not a Prophet, but the keeper of the King’s wardrobe, which means he stayed in the palace and took care of the clothes while Huldah was out there in public speaking the word of God. It’s a wonderful example of a professional couple that reverses our stereotypes of gender roles in antiquity!”
Having taught at the University of Denver and having served as Director of its Institute for Interfaith Studies prior to coming to HUC-JIR, Eskenazi feels that there are important differences between the secular university world and the seminary environment. “Here, our students are already dedicated and eager to learn precisely the things that we have to teach. The passion they bring and their desire to make a Jewish difference in the world make a tremendous difference to me.”
Eskenazi also values the opportunity to work with Hebrew language in a Jewish context, so that Hebrew is part of a living tradition that has important things to say to how we live our lives, rather than serve as an academic discipline only.
Regarding her hopes for her students, she says she wants them to know the text of their tradition and to be able to approach it critically, “to learn to read the Bible from right-to-left, which is in Hebrew and also means to read it in terms of its own time and place, and to learn how to read it left-toright, in our own time and place, thereby honoring the questions posed by the Bible as well as honoring our own questions and seeing how it speaks to our own time. And it’s extremely important to know the difference. The Bible is scripture not because it’s simply a historical document, but because it proved able to empower people in their lives for well over 2,000 years. It was preserved because it has something to say and we have to hear it. But we also need to be very clear as to what our questions are, and what it can or cannot say to our own time.”
Eskenazi entered academic life while raising her five children and after exploring other traditions and other sacred texts. Study for its own sake led to an undergraduate degree in Philosophy, a Master’s degree specializing in the New Testament and Second Temple text and her doctorate from the University of Denver and its Iliff School of Theology. Citing not only Rosenzweig and Buber, but also Tolstoy, Gandhi, Thomas Merton, and the Catholic worker Dorothy Day as her spiritual mentors, her intellectual and spiritual quest brought her to the Bible, “not because it’s the only literature I’ve looked at, but because I’ve looked at others. I was able to come to this as the most alive and meaningful text to me, a love that I communicate to my students. I consider it a source for a vocabulary and values with which to construct a world and create communities that have the power to sustain and inspire people.”
At a time when scholarly circles apart from the Jewish community are coming to the realization that there is a significant connection between academic concerns and lived lives, Eskenazi reminds us that seminaries like HUC-JIR have never lost the connection between thought and practice. “We have such an extraordinary concentration of scholars specializing in the study, interpretation, and research of Jewish text. We possess an incomparable reservoir for Jewish studies. We have a tremendous opportunity and responsibility to express this kind of research and learning that takes place in a context that is so thoroughly Jewish – that is connected not only academically but is connected existentially to the lives of persons and community.”
by Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi Professor of Bible, HUC-JIR/LA
We often proclaim, “Shema Israel.” It is, of course, the watchword of our faith. “Hear O Israel!” But how often do we really hear? Really listen?
Listening to Our Mothers: The Women of Reform Judaism Women’s Commentary on Torah began because the women of Reform Judaism decided to listen to the voices of our mothers.
First it was Cantor Sarah Sager listening to the hidden voice of Sarah, her matriarchal namesake. With a powerful address titled, “Sarah’s Hidden Voice: Recovering and Discovering Women’s Spirituality,” Cantor Sager charged the WRJ Assembly at the 1993 Biennial to reclaim the Torah. Her very words were, “If we are really serious about women’s spirituality, about liberating the concepts of God and community, about integrating the Torah of our tradition into the Torah of our lives, then there is something very concrete that we can do.”
The WRJ Women’s Commentary on the Torah takes place in the long line of classical tradition, from Rashi, to Hertz (author of the most influential Jewish Torah commentary in the English language for decades; he also happened to be my great-uncle), to Plaut (the Reform Movement’s commentary, which appeared in 1981).
What kind of a commentary is it to be?
Our guidelines identify three important criteria for the commentary:
Contemporary: The commentary will incorporate new approaches not found in traditional commentaries (including literary criticism, sociology, feminism). The commentary will present new research and information about the Bible and the biblical world and will address topics important for our world today.
Jewish: The commentary will focus on issues important to Jews as well as integrate insights from important Jewish sources (along with other available sources)
Women: The commentary will delve into matters that concern women. In addition, the commentary will showcase the scholarship of women, using the insights of women scholars to shed light on the Torah.
While the primary mission of the commentary is geared toward women, we envision this commentary as one that can provide insight and inspiration for both men and women, especially Jews but nonJews as well.
Our commitment to women means that we primarily attune to the voices of women in the text and in our community. Throughout history our human family, our Jewish family, has been sorely deprived of half of our ancestors – we are ready to become a more complete community.
In practice all this entails looking most closely at texts where women appear and asking why they do not appear elsewhere where they belong. It means asking who they were and how they lived, where they were and where they were not. It means listening to their words and listening even harder to their silences. Listening also means that we continue to listen as we work on the commentary.
Jews never resorted to a single voice. The very first pages of the Torah resist a single voice: Genesis begins with two versions of creation, two voices that disagree as well as complement each other in describing the origins of the world. The conversation between different voices continues in the Jewish tradition in the way traditional Jewish Bibles were printed over the centuries. The Torah text typically appeared on the page surrounded by commentators who responded to the text and often to each other. Consequently, along with the Torah there were always Rashi, Ibn Ezra, Ramban, Sforno, and many others.
Our commentary follows this model by incorporating different voices, including those of the rabbinic sages from our past and rabbinic and other sages from the present.
We will always interact with rabbinic traditions. We want to enjoy Rashi’s sensitivity when speaking about the five daughters of Zelophehad. In Parashat Pinhas from the Book of Numbers/Bemidbar, for example, he compares them favorably with Moses.
These five sisters in the Book of Numbers approach Moses, the leaders of the people, and the entire community. They draw near because they see a problem that needs a solution: the problem is that they have not been given an inheritance that they believe is due to them. They refuse to be left out and demand their rightful share. And so they dare speak to Moses, the priest Eleazar, all the other leaders, and the entire edah (congregation or formally constituted assembly). They say: “Give us a holding among our father’s kin.” (Numbers 27:4) Give us a share of our heritage, why should we be left out.
They get what they want – a share, a large share I should add. Moreover, as a result of their courage, a new Torah law is created, one that intends to benefit future generations long after them.
Their story is the story of The WRJ Women’s Commentary on the Torah. The women of Reform Judaism said: “Give us a share among our brothers. We are no longer willing to be left out.” Instead of land, the WRJ ask for something even more enduring – “give us a share of our Torah.” The result is a Torah commentary that we trust will benefit all of us. With this commentary we will continue as sisters to empower the women – and men – who come after us for generations to come.
In addition to the distinguished leadership of WRJ, together with Ellen Rosenberg, Executive Director, and Eve Roshevsky, Staff Executive, Department of Religious Living, the Advisory Board is comprised of prominent figures who share the capacity to explore new ways of thinking about women and Judaism; each of them is a pioneer, shaping her field in fresh, innovative ways.
Dr. Carol Meyers, Duke University – a groundbreaking archaeologist of Zippori in Israel; author of Discovering Eve, using social-scientific methods to reconstruct the lives of women in ancient Israel; and editor of Women in Scripture.
Dr. Tikva Frymer-Kensky, University of Chicago — a noted biblical scholar specializing also in Near Eastern studies; author of In the Wake of the Goddess – the best way to understand the relation of Israel’s religious transformation in light of the Gods and Goddesses of the Ancient Near East.
Dr. Judith R. Baskin, University of Oregon — an historian of rabbinic interpretation and author of the landmark study, Jewish Women in Historical Perspective, as well as Women and Word: Jewish Women and Jewish Writing.
Dr. Carol Ochs, HUC-JIR/NY, a philosopher whose book, Women and Sprituality, was among the earliest to address the need for asking new questions and rediscovering our sources; her latest book, Our Lives as Torah not only asks new questions, but helps us envision new, meaningful ways to live our lives in response to the possible answers.
The following members of the Advisory Board, who will also be contributing essays and comments, helped shape the project as a whole:
Dr. Judith Plaskow, who first invited all of us to stand again at Sinai.
Dr. Rachel Adler, HUC-JIR/LA, whose award winning book, Engendering Judaism, shows how we can stand at Sinai together as women and men and how transforming that is and must be.
Rabbi Laura Geller, the first woman rabbi to break the glass ceiling and lead a major congregation, who writes on feminist issues for a widerange of publications.
Rabbi Ruth Sohn, who influenced us through her work with Sh’ma magazine, and through many essays, including the marvelous one in Reading Ruth.
Dr. Ellen Umansky, best known for her book on Four Centuries of Jewish Women’s Spirituality.
Dr. Sherry Blumberg, who brings an educator’s perspective to our project.
Rabbi Andrea Weiss, HUC-JIR/NY, who represents the new generationof scholars on the Bible and who, as a student in my first class at HUC-JIR/LA, went on to be ordained and pursue a doctorate in Biblical Studies, is a source of much nachas to me.
Andrea and Rabbi Judy Schindler, another former student, together represent our future. Both Andrea and Judy have been with the commentary project from its inception, first as students and now as mature professionals ready to keep us attuned to the needs of the younger generation.
Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell, who has been teaching and writing about Jewish women’s history and feminist spirituality for the past twenty years, directs the Pennsylvania Council of the UAHC, and whose most recent book is The Open Door, A New Haggadah (CCAR 2002).
Cantor Sarah Sager, with her heavenly voice and perhaps no less heavenly vision of what we can and must attempt with this commentary.
Tamara Cohn Eskenazi
The HUC-JIR Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health and Temple Chai of Phoenix hosted this international conference in May for nearly 300 rabbis, physicians, nurses, cantors, educators, artists, mentalhealth professionals, and lay people interested in Judaism’s health-related texts and resources. For video and text of keynote speeches by Rabbi Elliot Dorff – “Mishneh Ha-Briyyot: A New Jewish Approach to Disabilities,” Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi – “Biblical Reflections on Holiness, Health and Hope,” Dr. Arnie Eisen – “Choose Life: American Jews and the Quest for Healing,” and Dr. Arthur Green – “Healing the Self, Healing the Cosmos: Reflections in the Neo-Hasidic Spirit,” please click on http://www.huc.edu/kalsman
By Dr. David B. Weisberg
Professor of Bible and Semitic Languages, HUC-JIR/Cincinnati
In the fall of 2002, I received an invitation from Mr. Robert Daly, of the Johns Hopkins-Nanjing Center for Chinese and American Studies, in Nanjing, People’s Republic of China, to visit for a week’s time, lecture, and meet with students.
The Hopkins-Nanjing Center, located at Nanjing University, is one of the leading places in China for Western scholars to meet Chinese colleagues. The University, which is separate from the Center, is also the home of our learned colleague, Professor Xu Xin, foremost authority on the history of Chinese Jewry, and his wife, Kong Defang. Nanjing University is also the alma mater of HUC-JIR/Cincinnati graduate student, Bo Yang.
The principal interest at the Center is international studies. The invitation to a scholar focusing on the Ancient Near East would afford faculty members and students an opportunity to contrast an unfamiliar but important discipline of human history in an ancient landscape and a distant place. Having been told that “Chinese historians like nothing better than a narrative involving ‘intrigue,’” I decided on the lecture topic: “The Grandeur that was Babylon (625-539 BCE): Culture, Religion and Political Intrigue in an Ancient Capital.”
At the Nanjing Center, I was welcomed by American Director, Mr. Daly, and Chinese Director, Professor Chen, who were most gracious. I met professors from the University faculty, as well as students, and visitors – principally from the U.S., but also from France, Africa, and elsewhere. Most, but not all visitors, spoke Chinese – while a few, like myself, spoke only English, which most everyone at the Center understood. The lecture was illustrated with slides and a few artifacts. It was very well attended and heartily received – and I taught two classes besides. My time at Nanjing University was enriched by a week of lively athletics and other wonderful experiences. One morning, while setting out for a jog, I noticed students playing basketball on outdoor courts near the track. I was invited to join in and had some fine games during these days. The students all knew about Houston Rockets center, Yao Ming.
There was also a small banquet in my honor, and Professor and Mrs. Xu Xin graciously extended an invitation to their home. Moreover, Professor Xu Xin took time from his busy schedule to take me on a tour of the city that included historical sites of exceptional interest: The Ming City Wall (1368-1644 – the longest city wall ever built in the world) and the main Confucian temple and Imperial Examinations History Museum, where scholars spent months or years preparing for their exams.
Following the week in Nanjing, I flew to Lhasa, Tibet. After getting me settled in my hotel, my guide took me to Jokhang Temple, the central focus of visits for devout Tibetans. I heard the famous chanting of the monks (which does not resemble our familiar Torah trop!) and saw the banner-festooned halls and rooms.
In following days, we took an excursion to the fortress-like Potala Palace of the Dalai Lama, built in the 14th century, and went on tours to the great monasteries of Drepung and Ganden, massive, citadel-like ecclesiastical retreats.
There is much to see in Shanghai, one of the three wealthiest cities of today’s China, but of major significance to the Jewish traveler is the “special interest tour” of the old Jewish neighborhood, with its museum, former “Russian” synagogue, and reconstruction of a typical apartment of a refugee family that had fled Germany for the safety of China in the late 1930’s. Outside the museum, when I paused to take a photo of the building, the guard, in military uniform, gestured for me to wait, and after running inside, came out to pose holding a small Israeli flag!
A short flight took my wife, Ophra, who was now able to join me, and me to Xi’an, where the highlights were an all-day excursion to the monumental Qin Dynasty excavations with over 6,000 life-sized terra cotta warriors unearthed from the 3rd century B.C.E. In the evening – which happened to be our anniversary – we attended a concert of Tang Dynasty court music and dance.
For many years, the late Dr. I. O. Lehman, Curator of Manuscripts, and I labored on a project involving investigation of the Biblical manuscripts of the Chinese Jews of Kai Feng which are preserved in the Dalsheimer Rare Book Room of HUC-JIR’s Klau Library. (A debt is gratefully acknowledged to Dr. Herbert Zafren and Dr. David Gilner, for their support.) Our project, which I am still continuing, stemmed from our mutual interest in the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible. Could manuscripts from far-off China reveal hitherto unknown facts about the development of the apparatus of the Torah? A careful review of the features of these priceless documents might reveal new pathways in Masoretic study.
All through this period, I had read about the Jews of Kai Feng, the place of origin of these rare Scriptures. However, for many decades, it was only a dream to be able to visit that city. The reason was that travel for American citizens to the People’s Republic of China was forbidden. Therefore it was a particular pleasure and one of the highlights of the trip to go there and see the museum and the setting where Jews had flourished for so many centuries. An unforgettable occasion was the invitation to the home of the head of the Jewish Community, Mr. Moshe Zhang, his wife, and son.
Closing out this fabulous trip was a stay in Beijing, including sightseeing at Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. After purchasing entry tickets our guide said to us: the price of admission today was about $1.50 – but back in the days of the empire, it would have been our necks! The better part of a day was spent at the Great Wall of China, Mutianyu section, with its cable car to the summit.
My thanks go to Dean Kenneth Ehrlich, Drs. Edward Goldman and Peter Obermark, Rabbi Sam Joseph, Sharon Crain, and special love and gratitude to Cheryl and Richard Weisberg.
A brief bibliography for the interested reader:
Bonavia, Judy, The Silk Road, Chartwell Books: Hong Kong, 1988.
Pan Guang, Xu Xin, et al., The Jews in China, China Intercontinental Press, 2001.
White, William Charles, Chinese Jews, Paragon: NY, 1966.
Xu Xin, The Jews of Kaifeng, China, KTAV: Jersey City, 2003.
By Professor Sara S. Lee
Director, Rhea Hirsch School of Education, HUC-JIR/Los Angeles
As a professor of Jewish education in the United States, the most unusual situation in which I might imagine myself is as a consultant/scholar in a Christian private school in Hong Kong. In January 2003 this unusual situation became a reality as I traveled with my Catholic colleague and partner in interreligious work, Dr. Mary C. Boys of Union Theological Seminary (see page 6), to the Hong Kong International School (HKIS). It is a school with 2500 students from kindergarten through high school on two campuses. We were invited as the Charles W. Dull Visiting Scholars to work with students, faculty, and families to explore the meanings of religious pluralism and the implications for their school.
HKIS was founded by Lutherans of the Missouri Synod as a Christian school with a strong commitment to the beliefs and practices of the Lutheran tradition. In the 21st century they find themselves to be a very diverse school religiously, with Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, followers of Bahai and other religious traditions. The cultural and national origins of the students and their families span the globe. The HKIS mission statement describes the school as “an American-style education grounded in the Christian faith, respecting the spiritual lives of all.” Given the origins of HKIS, their current social and religious reality, and their commitment to “respecting the spiritual lives of all,” the school faces an educational and cultural challenge of remaining true to the Christian tradition of their founding but aspiring to become a school that is truly reflective of religious pluralism.
We were invited, based on our work of the past 18 years in the field of religious pluralism and particularism, in the hope that we could help them move toward this aspiration. Our work with Jewish and Christian educators and scholars is based on a belief that it is very important to educate students, young and old, in our respective religious traditions and toward knowledge and appreciation of the religious other. If religious pluralism is to be more than a slogan in our society then religious education must prepare people of all faiths to be deeply grounded in their own religious particularism while affirming the value of the religious particularism of others. We believe that this poses an educational challenge for which teachers, educators, and clergy need to be prepared, and that has been the focus of our work and our research.
The location of HKIS on Hong Kong Island places one in an interesting meeting of cultures. On the one hand, Hong Kong is part of China and much of Chinese culture is in evidence. At the same time, Hong Kong retains much of the British influence from the days of being a colony, and is home to expatriates from all over the world who work in this important commercial and financial center. Skyscrapers and all the hallmarks of prosperity and Western culture stand side by side with human density that is startling and a mix of Asian cultures that remind one that this is a very different place. HKIS reflects this same juxtaposition of cultures – a school that is American in its curriculum, the dress of its students and the origins of many faculty members – and yet a school where the students are from many cultures and religions, where the learning of Chinese is mandatory, and where Chinese New Year, as well as other Asian celebrations, punctuate the school year and are taken for granted, whatever the origin of the students.
Our visit involved sessions with students, faculty, families, and administrative staff. In each of these encounters the objective was to allow participants to share their understanding of their own religious and cultural commitments and to explore how that plays out in an environment committed to reli-
gious and cultural pluralism. In dialogues with High School and Middle School students we shared some of the experiences we have had working and learning together. We asked the students the following questions. “How has your experience at HKIS influenced how you think about yourself as a member of your tradition? About other traditions in the school?” Some students were quite puzzled when confronted by the reality that a Catholic and a Jew work together, learn together, and deeply respect each other’s faith. They did not understand how we could accept the truth claims of each other’s traditions. By exploring this with them we attempted to help them understand what a commitment to religious pluralism means.
For the faculty we constructed a learning experience in which they confronted the challenges of teaching toward the school’s goal of preparing a religiously educated person in terms of the school’s Christian roots and its religious diversity. For parents we created an interreligious learning experience, and asked them about the value of the experience and what it might mean to create such experiences at HKIS. At several meetings with administrators they shared their struggle of faithfulness to their identity as a Christian school and a desire to promote religious/spiritual pluralism. Based on the exploration of educating for pluralism in our work and our encounter with the realities of HKIS we shared some insights about the importance of teaching for pluralism from the youngest grades. This always raises the question of how we can teach for pluralism before students are deeply grounded in their own religious tradition. The exchanges we had with all of the people we encountered at HKIS were as educative for Mary and me as they were for the groups and individuals with whom we met.
We could help them identify the questions and challenges in defining their school as both particularistic as a Christian school and yet ideologically committed to religious/spiritual pluralism. We learned from them how dedicated educators who take seriously the philosophical and ideological identity of a school struggle with enacting their commitments in the curriculum, culture, and all other aspects of the school on a day to day basis. For our ongoing work in educating for religious particularism and religious pluralism, which will be located at the Boston College Center for ChristianJewish Learning, the work we did at HKIS provides us with a rich case study from which we will continue to learn.
At the end of our visit to Hong Kong, Mary and I were invited to join in Shabbat worship and dinner at the Progressive Synagogue in Hong Kong. We spoke with the congregation about our work in general and what we had been doing at HKIS, where some of their children are enrolled. In my case as a Jew at HKIS and in Mary’s case as a Catholic at the Progressive Synagogue, each of us experienced being the “religious other.” In both situations, however, we were welcomed and respected for the wisdom and insight that each of us could bring about our own tradition, the deep interest we had in learning about the tradition of others, and the commitment to advancing religious pluralism as an ideology. In the rich cultural mix that characterizes Hong Kong, where the confrontation and synergy of diverse cultures and religious traditions is so palpable, the importance of working toward genuine pluralism in religious and cultural terms was reinforced. I return to my work in interreligious learning with greater energy and passion, and a debt of gratitude to HKIS for having invited me to be part of their struggle and search.
by Jean Bloch Rosensaft
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is internationally recognized as a preeminent center of scholarship – not only as the rare venue for graduate Jewish learning during the era preceding the growth of Jewish studies on university campuses and as a haven for scholars who fled Nazi Europe (see pages 23-24), but also as the vibrant alma mater to nearly 400 School of Graduate Studies alumni of all faiths who teach at colleges, seminaries, and universities throughout the world.
What is less well known is that the College-Institute has nurtured several generations of rabbinical alumni who have established careers as leading academic scholars, not only at HUC-JIR and other Jewish seminaries, but also at leading universities throughout North America. In fact, these rabbinical alumni have been the catalysts since the 1960s for the development of the burgeoning field of Judaic Studies in secular institutions of higher learning. As scholars steeped in the history and religious thought of Reform Judaism, they also serve as advocates of liberal Judaism in their secular academic environments.
In an interview with The Chronicle, a number of rabbinical alumni who are “academic rabbis” reflected on their rabbinical student years and ongoing relationships with HUC-JIR, their areas of scholarship, their commitment to Jewish intellectual growth and Reform Judaism, and their interest in bringing HUC-JIR and the academy closer together.
For many of these academics, their scholarship began as a consequence of their rabbinical studies. The theses they prepared for ordination, ranging from American Jewish literature, 18th century Hassidism, Maimonides’ Guide to the Perplexities of Creation, medieval Jewish history and culture, rabbinic literature and Judaism in the Greek and Roman periods, gossip and slander in rabbinic texts, medieval philosophy, commentaries, and Bible provided the foundation or several of their Ph.D. dissertations.
“HUC-JIR in the late 1950s and 1960s was a superb place to study Judaism from a historical perspective, with a faculty devoted both to Jewish scholarship and the continued vitality of Judaism, providing us with a broad range of viewpoints in an atmosphere of intellectual openness and genial encouragement,” recalls Robert Seltzer. “Even though I became a historian of modern Jewry, my training at HUC-JIR grounded me in Bible, Hellenistic Judaism, rabbinics, Jewish philosophy, Jewish literature, the whole scope of Jewish history, human relations, education, and even public speaking.” Peter Haas agrees, “My point in going to HUC-JIR was to get a better background in the rabbinic texts, and also to get a perspective from within rather than a purely academic point of view.” Jonathan Malino began rabbinical school at HUC-JIR/NY the same time as he began his graduate studies at Columbia, while Michael Signer, who later went to the University of Toronto for his Ph.D., says, “the idea of focusing my rabbinical career on ‘Torah’ and ‘Wissenschaft ’ captivated me.”
On a more personal note, Ruth Langer recalls that her marriage to Jonathan Sarna (then on the HUC-JIR faculty) kept her in Cincinnati, thus facilitating her Ph.D. studies in liturgical law and customs in medieval Jewry rather than deferring them as originally planned. Malino also points to the “wonderful group of budding scholars with whom I shared small classes: David Ruderman, Marc Saperstein, Norman Cohen, Larry Hoffman, Michael Morgan, and Michael Cook.”
Marc Lee Raphael reminisces about “Alfred Gottschalk hitting a homerun off of my awesome windmill windup fastball at Camp Saratoga in 1958.” Seltzer recalls participating in an archaeological expedition led by Nelson Glueck to the barren, rocky slopes of the Negev where he uncovered some Judean and Nabatean potsherds, but mostly rocks, and later “going to the Beersheva camel market where Eleanor Roosevelt was buying a baby camel for a grandchild!” “In addition to spending several nights at the homeless shelter sponsored by HUC-JIR and housed in the basement apartment of the dormitory building,” remembers Matthew Kraus, “I vividly remember going down to Over-the-Rhine with a group of students to help clean up and repair an apartment so that a homeless family could have a permanent place to live. For me, HUC-JIR represented an opportunity to actualize a Jewish life that integrates Torah, worship, and gemilut chasadim (acts of justice).”
HUC-JIR faculty served as key mentors to these alumni during their rabbinical studies. The list of mentors highlights the generations of great scholars and teachers at HUC-JIR: Samuel Atlas, Lewis Barth, Sheldon Blank, Eugene Borowitz, Stanley Chyet, Martin Cohen, Alan Cooper, William Cutter, Alfred Gottschalk, Joseph Gutmann, Alexander Guttman, Adam Kamesar, Leonard Kravitz, Samson Levey, Leon Liebreich, Jacob Marcus, Michael Meyer, Jakob Petuchowski, Ellis Rivkin, Samuel Sandmel, Richard Sarason, Henry Slonimsky, Ezra Spicehandler, J.J. Tepfer, Matitiahu Tsevat, Ben-Zion Wacholder, and Werner Weinberg.
These “academic rabbis” maintain close relationships with HUC-JIR. David Ruderman was one of the moving forces for the creation of the CCAR/HUC-JIR Joint Comission on Sustaining Rabbinic Education. Frederick Greenspahn, Jonathan Malino, Marc Saperstein, Matthew Kraus, Michael Morgan, Michael Signer, Peter Haas, and Robert Seltzer serve on the Academic Advisory Board of HUC-JIR. Seltzer organized a conference co-sponsored with HUC-JIR that resulted in a book, The Americanization of the Jews, co-edited by Provost Norman J. Cohen, and has invited numerous HUC-JIR faculty members to lecture and publish at Hunter College. Signer, who taught at HUC-JIR/LA for 19 years, has involved HUC-JIR students in week-long seminars at Auschwitz and Krakow where, together with his Notre Dame students, they meet with German and Polish students in study of how to live a religious life in a post-Shoah world.`
The relationship with HUC-JIR also endures through the numerous students these alumni have directed toward HUC-JIR for graduate study. Some of them have become ordained rabbis; others have pursued careers in other areas of Jewish communal life. Marc Saperstein believes that the experiences of several students in his courses influenced them to want to continue their study at HUC-JIR. “I have been able to help several prospective rabbinical students attain the academic proficiencies that gained them admission to the College-Institute and have encouraged several Christian seminary students to attend graduate school at HUC-JIR,” notes Frederick Greenspahn. Some alumni are also effective in influencing their students in other ways. Signer notes, “Many of my graduate and undergraduate students eventually will become active lay people in the Catholic church; I try to show them ways in which they can engage with the Jewish community when they become an active member of their parish.” Haas takes pride in having had “the opportunity to teach and influence divinity students at Vanderbilt Divinity School, particularly those working in New Testament, for whom I could offer a better perspective of the Judaism of the time, and the ability to teach hundreds of undergraduates of all backgrounds in Judaism and the Middle East.”
Always forging new directions in Judaic scholarship, their forthcoming books tackle an array of subjects (see sidebar). Their past efforts have yielded notable achievements, ranging from Saperstein’s winning the National Jewish Book Award for two different books on the history of Jewish preaching, to Malino’s founding and continuing coordination of an annual philosophy conference, now in its 20th year, at the Shalom Hartman Institute, bringing together leading Israeli and American philosophers and legal and political theorists.
“I was fortunate that just as I was completing my doctoral work, Jewish studies was widely coming into its own in American higher education. As a newly-minted professor, I was able to introduce general Jewish history at Hunter College to supplement the longstanding Hebrew language and literature program,” recalls Seltzer, who also points to serving on the Board and committees of the CCAR as a source of personal fulfillment. Other pioneers include Langer, who is proud of bringing about the creation of the Center for Christian-Jewish Learning at Boston College, “which is beginning to have a significant impact on Christian-Jewish, and particularly Catholic-Jewish relations, nationally and internationally.” Ruderman takes pride in “the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, an institution that attracts some 25 scholars a year from around the world to create a new discourse in Jewish learning. This institution is unique and reflects the power of the new renaissance of Jewish learning sweeping the university.” Furthermore, the Center reaches out to the greater Philadelphiaarea community by assisting 12 synagogues in creating adult education programs – a partnership model for other communities with proximity to universities with Judaic studies departments – and offers lecture programs in New York, Miami, and soon in Los Angeles in conjunction with HUC-JIR. Kraus, one of the youngest academic rabbinical alumni, feels honored that he is the first person tenured in Jewish Studies at Williams College.
Signer is most proud of “Dabru Emet” – signed by more than 200 Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox rabbis and scholars – that sets an agenda for future discussions between Christians and Jews, and for organizing an international theological symposium at the Center for Dialogue and Prayer near Auschwitz that brought together Poles, Germans, and American Jews and Catholics.
While Greenspahn is proud of his programs of Judaic studies and Hebrew that offered otherwise unavailable educational opportunities for the Denver Jewish community, he is especially proud of his book, When Brothers Dwell Together, which explores the Bible’s portrayal of sibling relations against the backdrop of Israelite and ancient Near Eastern law and custom; “its major focus is on the Bible’s consistent preference for the youngest offspring, which reflects important elements of Israel’s own history and circumstances.”
Norbert Samuelson’s greatest pride is in his ongoing relationships with his former students, some of whom have gone on to their own academic careers, and in their achievements, while Raphael notes, “I am most proud that I have done my best to be a university professor and a congregational rabbi at the same time, and have enjoyed the stimulation of balancing two challenging professions.”
The relationship between the seminary and the academy continues to preoccupy these alumni. Michael Morgan recalls the late 1960s and 1970s, during the recovery of ethnicity on the American college campus, “when the study of the Jewish past and the Jewish experience was given a certain kind of public credibility – that it could be studied the way any other cultural, religious, or ethnic tradition could be studied, that it could be studied by anybody, and that it could be studied in a secular university. These programs have enriched our understanding of the Jewish experience. There’s been a real fertilization of the fields of Jewish studies by the humanities and social sciences. Where would we be without the development of new approaches in historiography, interdisciplinary approaches between literature, history, and intellectual history or cultural studies and Judaism?”
Hass stresses that the academy as a center for advanced Judaic studies is extremely important in that “it addresses Judaism not as an ‘in-house’ theology problem, but as a part of the human experience, on both a religious and cultural plane.” Signer notes, “The academy provides an interdisciplinary and interreligious environment that encourages theoretical speculation, without being accountable for any particular practical application. People who become scholars are often very committed to improving the quality of Jewish life and Jewish knowledge; they constantly look for the novel approach that moves against the consensus or challenges the mainstream.”
Daniel Breslauer adds, “The academic setting provides the only arena in which Jews can speak to one another and learn from one another without the institutional baggage and prejudices that have divided the Jewish community. This valueneutral arena allows Jews to interact with texts and traditions that come from several different sources without fear of authoritarianism or ideology.” Kraus goes further in saying “Jewish Studies in secular institutions seeks to explain Judaism, not promote Judaism. However, as academics, we must communicate a love for our field and the material we study. Moreover, encouraging people to critically examine the Jewish experience will ultimately enhance the quality and quantity of Jewish life.”
Langer values the academy’s greater emphasis on research; at the same time she notes, “engaged study of religion allows for a different set of questions than those encouraged by the scientific methodologies of the academy. This is reflected in the dearth of study of Judaism as a religion and the traditions of emphasis on either historical or critical text studies. There are actually significant numbers of academic positions where departments are looking for this more engaged and religious oriented approach – and the academy itself is not producing this sort of scholar.”
Samuelson cautions that those who go into Jewish studies now and get their training from academic programs in Judaic studies may have a more peripheral connection to the Jewish community. “In fact, more and more people studying Jewish studies are non-Jews, so the Jewish identity of the field is becoming increasingly less connected with anything Jewish. Most academic study has nothing really to do with commitment in any form. The reason it looked different in Jewish studies in academia was because the first generations of those who went into Jewish studies did it through the seminary setting and came out connected to a Jewish community. The goal of the academy is research, studying, and teaching. It has no vested commitment to anything else. It certainly has no vested commitment to religion (an outgrowth of its rebellion against its Christian origins, resulting in indifference or hostility, depending upon the university) and it certainly has no vested commitment to the Jewish people. An academic who is actively Jewish and in the field of Jewish studies, in fact, compromises his or her status within the academy as an ‘objective’ scholar. The seminary is no less committed to Jewish learning – it is an inherent Jewish value, but the function of study is knowledge in the service of God and commitment to the Jewish people. So for a person who wants to do studies from a faith commitment, there’s no comparison between the seminary and the academy.”
Saperstein sees a symbiotic relationship, whereby “rabbinical seminaries provide the best general graduate level exposure to the classical texts of Judaism for students who may decide to continue in a specific discipline much more narrowly construed, and career academics provide continuing education opportunities for rabbis.” Seltzer acknowledges that while “the new generation of scholars in Jewish studies have a solid grounding in their academic discipline and perhaps more flexible career opportunities, studying in a liberal rabbinical seminary provides a broad-ranging and deep acquaintance with Judaica that is very difficult for a graduate student in a secular university to obtain.”
Kraus warns that Jewish seminaries and the academy may have a proclivity to become isolated from each other, which should be proactively avoided; his hope is to see secular academics teaching occasionally at the seminary and seminary faculty having stints at secular institutions. “The rabbi is the chief mediator between esoteric Jewish learning and the intellectual and spiritual needs of his/her community,” says Ruderman. “But in order to perform this role, rabbis need to have more contact with the most significant Jewish learning of the academy, and so do rabbinical students. I would like to see more connections made between these separate sites of Jewish learning.”
Samuelson points to a major study on seminaries in the United States of about twenty years ago, which suggested that seminaries be located next to major universities – an impetus that situated HUC-JIR’s newer stateside campuses adjacent to USC in Los Angeles and NYU in New York. He and others suggest faculty exchanges and seminars as well as sabbatical visiting lectureships at HUC-JIR with greater regularity. Morgan believes that more of such systematic ties “would encourage academics to give more thought professionally, in terms of their own work, to the life of liberal Judaism in America and the world. For historians teaching modern Judaism, for example, if they had closer ties with the life of liberal, Reform Judaism, they might pay more attention to it in their own thinking and teach with a different outlook in their classes.”
Signer concludes, “There should be a synergy between the academy and Jewish seminaries, which correctly concern themselves with both Wissenschaft (knowledge) and Bildung (character formation). Most of the younger scholars in the academy are seeking to find profound meaning in their Jewish scholarship. I hope that rabbis would become their continuing students.”
Daniel S. Breslauer, N ’69
Professor of Religious Studies, University of Kansas | Modern Jewish thought, particularly modern or contemporary Jewish ethics | He has just published Creating A Judaism Without Religion: A Postmodern Jewish Possibility and is working on Postmodern Images of Jewishness that suggests ways of reconceiving Jewish selfhood, the ideas of God-Torah-Israel, and Jewish textuality that allows for difference and diversity rather than uniformity.
Frederick E. Greenspahn, C ’73
Professor of Religious Studies, University of Denver | Bible and the his- tory of Jewish biblical interpretation | His next book will explore the Bible’s role throughout the spectrum of Judaism, considering its place in liturgy and Jewish thought as well as in Kabbalah, rabbinics, and Zionism.
Peter J. Haas, C ’74
Abba Hillel Silver Professor of Jewish Studies; Director, Samuel Rosenthal Center for Judaic Studies; Chair, Department of Religion, Case Western Reserve University | Classical Jewish ethics, dealing with responsa litera- ture | His new book is on Human Rights in Judaism and he is working on ethics and theology after the Shoah.
Matthew Kraus, C ’91
Associate Professor of Classics; Chair, Jewish Studies Program, Williams College | Judaism in the Greek and Roman periods | He is working on a book on Jerome’s translation of the book of Exodus according to the Hebrew in relation to Classical, Christian, and Jewish traditions of interpretation.
Ruth Langer, C ’86; C ’94 Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Jewish Studies, Theology Department; Associate Director, Center for Christian-Jewish Learning, Boston College | Jewish liturgy and Jewish-Christian relations | Her recent articles are on the earliest known sources for Torah liturgies, how the amidah shaped Jewish identity in the first few centuries C.E., and a survey of Jewish theologies of the religious other. She is immersed in a study of the transformations in the birkat haminim (the malediction of the heretics) in Jewish litur- gies over the last millennium, particularly those caused by Christian censorship and changes in the relations between Jews and Christians.
Jonathan W. Malino, N ’79
Professor of Philosophy, Guilford College | Philosophy of psychology and philosophy of religion | He is co-authoring a book on Love of Life in the Consciousness of Impotence: An American Philosophy of Judaism, and has edited a Festschrift for David Hartman.
Michael L. Morgan, N ’70
Professor of Philosophy and Jewish Studies; Adjunct Professor of Religious Studies, Indiana University | The history of philosophy | He is working on Discovering Levinas, which places Levinas’ thought within the context of 20th century Anglo-American philosophy, has been asked to edit a Cambridge Companion to Modern Jewish Philosophy, and is working on a a collection of papers on the work of Emil Fackenheim in honor of his 85th birthday.
Marc Lee Raphael, C ’68
Sophia and Nathan Gumenick Professor of Judaic Studies; Professor of Religion; Chair, Department of Religion, The College of William and Mary | Judaism in America | He has just published Judaism in America, (Columbia University Press, 2003) and is working on an autobiogra- phy/memoir, Diary of a Los Angeles Jew, 1942-1972.
David Ruderman, N ’71
Joseph Meyerhoff Professor of Modern Jewish History; Director, Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, University of Pennsylvania | Jewish intel- lectual and cultural history of modern Europe, from the Renaissance to the Haskalah | He is working on two books on early 18th century inter- actions between Jews and Christians in England and the Netherlands and a synthetic book on the cultural history of early modern Jewry.
Norbert M. Samuelson, C ’62
Professor of Religious Studies and the Harold and Jean Grossman Chair of Jewish Studies, Arizona State University | The history of the interac- tion between Judaism and science | He is beginning research on the history of the concept of light in western scientific and religious tradi- tions as it may relate to a constructive Jewish theology of redemption.
Marc Saperstein, N ’72
Charles E. Smith Professor of Jewish History; Director, Program in Judaic Studies, George Washington University | History of Jewish preaching | He has just completed his book on Rabbi Saul Levi Morteira and the Portuguese Jewish Community of Amsterdam, based on Morteira’s over 600 manuscripts and printed sermons. His current research is on 19th and 20th century preaching in times of crisis, especially responses to war and Jewish persecution.
Robert Seltzer, C ‘61
Professor of History, Hunter College and Graduate School of the City University of New York; Director, Jewish Social Studies Program, Hunter College | Modern Jewish intellectual history | His next book, What is Modern about Modern Judaism, will study the ideology of Reform and other branches of liberal Judaism against the background of modern intellectual history to understand the current swing to greater tradition- alism within Reform and the limitations of that tendency.
Michael A. Signer, C ’70
Abrams Professor of Jewish Thought and Culture, Department of Theology; Director, Notre Dame Holocaust Project, University of Notre Dame | Medieval Jewish and Christian biblical commentaries and Jewish-Christian relations from antiquity to the modern period | His forthcoming book is on Journeys to Reconciliation: From II Vatican to the Third Millennium.
David Ellenson, N ‘77
President, Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
Albert H. Friedlander, C ‘52
Dean, Leo Baeck College London
David A. Teutsch, N ’77
Former President; Wiener Professor of Contemporary Jewish Civilization; Director, Center for Jewish Ethics, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
Hillel Gamoran, N ’56
Rabbinic Literature, University of Washington
Seymour Gitin, C ’62
Dorot Director and Professor of Archaeology W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem
Michael Greenwald, C ’75
Associate Professor, Department of Religious Studies, St. Lawrence University
Michael Herzbrun, C ’75
Coordinator of Psychological Counseling, St. John Fisher College
Harold S. Jaye, C ’70
Professor, Philosophy/Humanities, Central Florida Community College
Michael Kagan, C ’81
Associate Professor of Philosophy, Le Moyne College
Dana Kaplan, J ’94
Oppenstein Brothers Assistant Professor of Judaic and Religious Studies, University of Missouri-Kansas City
Shira Lander, C ’91
Ecumenical Institute of St. Mary’s Seminary and University; University of Maryland- Baltimore County
Laura Lieber, C ’99
Professor of Religions and Classics, Middlebury College
Arthur Gross Schaefer, N ’84
Professor of Business Law and Ethics, Loyola Marymount University
Jack D. Spiro, C ’58
Harry Lyons Distinguished Chair of Judaic Culture; Director, Center for Judaic Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University
David Aaron, C ’83, Professor of Bible - Cincinnati
Carole B. Balin, N ’91, Associate Professor of Jewish History - New York
Lewis M. Barth, C ’64, Professor of Midrash and Related Literature - Los Angeles
Eugene B. Borowitz, C ’48, Sigmund Falk Distinguished Professor of Education and Jewish Religious Thought - New York
Martin A. Cohen, C ’57, Professor of Jewish History - New York
Norman J. Cohen, N ’71, Professor of Midrash - New York
Michael J. Cook, N ’70, Sol and Arlene Bronstein Professor of Judaeo-Christian Studies; Professor of Intertestamental and Early Christian Literatures - Cincinnati
William Cutter, C ’65, Professor of Education and Hebrew Language and Literature - Los Angeles
Susan L. Einbinder, N ’83, Professor of Hebrew Literature - Cincinnati
David Ellenson, N ’77, Gus Waterman Herrman Presidential Chair; I.H. and Anna Grancell Professor of Jewish Religious Thought - Los Angeles
Reuven Firestone, N ’82, Professor of Medieval Jewish Studies - Los Angeles
Edward A. Goldman, C ’69, Professor Israel and Ida G. Bettan Chair in Midrash and Homiletics - Cincinnati
Alfred Gottschalk, C ’57, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Bible and Jewish Thought; John and Marianne Slade Professor Emeritus of Jewish Intellectual History – Cincinnati
Uri D. Herscher, C ’70, Professor of American Jewish History - Los Angeles
Lawrence A. Hoffman, N ’69, Barbara and Stephen Friedman Chair in Liturgy, Worship, and Ritual - New York
Isaac Jerusalmi, C ’56, Professor of Bible and Semitic Languages - Cincinnati
Samuel K. Joseph, C ’76, Professor of Jewish Education and Leadership Development – Cincinnati
Barry S. Kogan, C ’71, Clarence and Robert Efroymson Professor of Jewish Thought; Professor of Jewish Philosophy - Cincinnati Leonard S. Kravitz, C ’54, Professor of Midrash and Homiletics - New York
Stephen M. Passamaneck, C '60, Professor of Rabbinics - Los Angeles
Alvin J. Reines, C ’52, Professor of Jewish Philosophy – Cincinnati
Richard S. Sarason, C ’74, Professor of Rabbinical Literature and Thought – Cincinnati Ezra Spicehandler, C ’46, Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Hebrew Literature - Cincinnati
Paul M. Steinberg, N ’49, Eleanor Sinsheimer Distinguished Service Professor of Jewish Religious Education and Human Relations - New York
Mark Washofsky, C ’80, Professor of Rabbinics - Cincinnati
David B. Weisberg, C ’77, Professor of Bible and Semitic Languages – Cincinnati
Andrea Weiss, N ’93, Instructor in Bible - New York
Gary P. Zola, C ’82, Associate Professor of the American Jewish Experience - Cincinnati
Ruth Alpers, C ’94, Lecturer on Human Relations and Clinical Pastoral Education - Cincinnati
Kenneth E. Ehrlich, C ’74, Lecturer - Cincinnati Shaul R. Feinberg, C ’71, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Jewish Education and Liturgy - Jerusalem
Shirley M. Idelson, N '91, Associate Dean - New York
Naamah Kelman-Ezrachi, J ’92, Lecturer on Jewish Education – Jerusalem
David Komerofsky, C '99, Dean of Students; Director of Rabbinical School - Cincinnati Richard N. Levy, C ’64, Lecturer on Judaic Studies - Los Angeles
Michael Marmur, J ’92, Lecturer on Modern Jewish Thought - Jerusalem
Aaron D. Panken, N ’91, Lecturer on Rabbinics - New York
Nancy H. Wiener, N ’90, Adjunct Associate Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling - New York
by Jean Bloch Rosensaft
In 1996, Professor Michael A. Meyer was awarded the National Foundation for Jewish Culture Zeltzer Scholarship Award in Historical Studies for his major influence on colleagues and students in his field.
For forty years the HUC-JIR learning community has been enriched by a teacher, scholar, and mentor whose life and life’s work embody the spirit and values of Jewish survival and Reform Judaism – Dr. Michael A. Meyer, Adolph S. Ochs Professor of Jewish History, at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati. In an interview with The Chronicle, Meyer recounted his life’s journey and decades of contribution to Jewish scholarship and continuity of heritage.
Born in Berlin, Meyer escaped Nazi Europe in 1941 with his parents and grandmother, arriving in the United States at 3 1/2 years of age – a scant four months before the Nazi policy shifted from forced Jewish emigration to deportation and death. “I think my awareness of being one of the nitzolai haShoah – those saved from the Holocaust – has deepened my commitment to things Jewish and to the study of GermanJewish history,” Meyer says. Today, he is internationally recognized as the preeminent historian of Reform Judaism and of the religious and intellectual life of German Jewry.
A product of the Reform youth movement, his genesis as a Jewish historian came out of a combined interest in Judaism and a commitment to Reform Judaism. After his undergraduate studies at UCLA, Meyer initially contemplated the rabbinate and completed part of the rabbinical program at HUC-JIR/Los Angeles when it was still at its original location on the Appian Way. He went on to work for the Ph.D. at HUC-JIR, where he studied with Ellis Rivkin in Cincinnati and Fritz Bamberger in New York.
“I finished by doctoral studies in 1964,” he recalls, “before the explosion of Jewish studies on American campuses. So I was faced with a very difficult decision, because I was not a rabbi and there were precious few jobs for Jewish scholars aside from those in seminaries. At first, it seemed as if I would have to look for a job at a Hillel Foundation because at that time Hillel had some directors who were not rabbis. I had almost accepted a job at the Hillel at the University of Alabama, when HUC-JIR President Nelson Glueck offered me a position at our Los Angeles School, followed three years later with an offer to come to Cincinnati.” As a pioneer in his field, he was one of the founders of the Association of Jewish Studies and served as its president (1978-80).
As a matter of fact, Meyer is one of the relatively few people who has taught at all of HUC-JIR’s centers of learning. Currently, Meyer teaches at the Jerusalem School every fourth semester while simultaneously giving a graduate seminar at the Hebrew University, where he is a regular visiting professor. At various times, he has also been a visiting member of the faculties of UCLA, Antioch College, University of Haifa, and Ben Gurion University.
Meyer’s required courses for rabbinical students include medieval and modern Jewish history and the history of the Reform Movement in Judaism; during the 2003-04 academic year, he will offer electives on Jewish historiography and the intellectual history of Zionism. At HUC-JIR/Jerusalem, he teaches the Israeli rabbinical students a course on the history and thought of Reform Judaism. “I feel a special satisfaction in teaching rabbinical students, with whom I share values and through whom I can have some influence on the Reform Movement and on the religious lives of individuals. I believe in a learned rabbinate that is knowledgeable in Jewish sources. While the pastoral and practical duties of the rabbi are without question essential, I see the rabbi gaining her or his authority from knowledge of Jewish tradition and Jewish history.”
Meyer has observed changes over the forty years of teaching two generations of students. “The interest in Jewish history is somewhat less today than it was 20 years ago. We were more focused then on Jewish national issues. As the rabbinate has changed, our students have increasingly stressed practical rabbinics as well as Jewish thought and tradition.”
Meyer finds that this trend is reflected in the shift in emphasis of the Reform Movement’s platforms. “The 1976 platform, which Eugene Borowitz largely wrote, was focused on Jewish survival, the people of Israel, and Jewish history. The more recent platform dwells upon the Jewish person, the individual, even as the rabbinate has shifted from the rabbi as the one who deals with Jewish issues to the rabbi who is largely a pastoral counselor.” This phenomenon relates to Meyer’s next project: editing the memoirs of Rabbi Joachim Prinz for publication. “Prinz is a noteworthy example of a rabbi who was an activist for many causes and very much involved with Jewish people issues, rather than Jewish person issues.”
With the inclusion of women, Meyer has also observed the greater democratization of the classroom, a development he favors. “I think that our teaching today is more interactive than it was in earlier generations.” His wife, Rabbi Margaret Meyer, was ordained in 1986 and is the Rabbi of Congregation B’nai Israel in Jackson, Tennessee; they have three children and six grandchildren.
Meyer’s main interest from the beginning has been Jewish identity in modernity – an interest that he has sustained throughout his scholarly career. His dissertation became his first book, Origins of the Modern Jew: Jewish Identity and European Culture from 1749 - 1824 (1967), still in print and used as a textbook today. “This study was an attempt to understand what made the modern Jews different from their medieval forebears in terms of acculturation,” he explains.
His interests gradually shifted to focus more specifically upon the Reform Movement, leading to a long essay in Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion at One Hundred Years (1976) and Response to Modernity: A History of the Reform Movement in America (1988), his major work, of which he is most proud. His most recent books include Judaism Within Modernity (2002) and this year’s publication of a volume of letters and unpublished or ephemeral writings by Rabbi Leo Baeck, the leading figure of Liberal Judaism in pre-war Germany, who shared his community’s fate and was imprisoned at Theresienstadt during the Holocaust.
In the late 1980s, Meyer was invited to become the International President of the Leo Baeck Institute, a scholarly organization devoted to the historical study of German Jewry, with branches in Jerusalem, New York, and London, as well as a scholarly working group in Germany. He was asked to undertake a large scale, four-volume history of the Jews in German-speaking lands in modern times for specialists as well as general readers. As editor of German-Jewish History in Modern Times, he first assembled an international team of ten scholars from Israel, the United States, and Britain, which included men and women, Jews and non-Jews. From its inception, the project was intended to appear in three languages, and nearly all of the volumes have come out through Columbia University Press, the Beck Verlag in Munich, and Merkaz Shazar in Jerusalem.
“We tried to do some things in these volumes that had not been done to the same degree earlier,” Meyer describes. “We wanted to give women a proper amount of attention and also to deal more extensively with the inner history of the Jews so that we could get away from the idea that all of German Jewish history had to be understood through the lens of the Holocaust.”
This study begins with a long introductory essay dealing with the Middle Ages, as prologue. The bulk of the volumes cover the 17th century through the Holocaust, with an epilogue dealing with the German-Jewish diaspora and the new Jewish community in Germany after the war.
Meyer’s expertise led Michael Blumenthal to invite him to serve as an advisor for the initial planning of the permanent exhibition for Berlin’s Jewish Museum, housed in an extraordinary building designed by architect Daniel Libeskind. Meyer likens this cerebral building to a work by Kafka, which allows many interpretations, and praises the museum for communicating a lost history of German Jewry to a mostly nonJewish, German audience. He faults the permanent exhibition, however, for its tendency to see assimilation as the major theme, and wishes that the Reform Movement and Rabbi Leo Baeck would have been given more attention – suggestions that he has forwarded to the curator in charge of revisions.
As someone who escaped Hitler, how does it feel for Meyer to return to Germany? “When I first began to go back to the land of my birth for scholarly conferences, I had a good deal of ambivalence about it. And for a time, it was my practice that whenever I was invited to a conference in Germany, on that same trip I would visit a concentration camp. In that way I was able to make clear to myself that I was going to a conference in a country that must come to terms with its past.”
At the same time, Meyer does not hold the younger scholars he meets responsible for their nation’s history. “What is quite remarkable is how many young Germans are going into German-Jewish scholarship,” he notes. “In Germany, itself, the great irony is that whereas when there was a large GermanJewish community there were virtually no Jewish studies at German universities, now the major German universities almost all have Jewish studies.” The Leo Baeck Institute’s scholarly working group in Germany holds doctoral colloquia for graduate students in German-Jewish history. Over the last decade, at least 150 graduate students have done doctoral work in this area. Nearly all of them are non-Jewish Germans, an increasing number of whom are now able to read Hebrew. Furthermore, the Leo Baeck Institute is helping with the publication of guidelines for the teaching of German-Jewish history in German schools.
Meyer chairs the Publications Committee of the Hebrew Union College Press, is a fellow and member of the American Academy for Jewish Research, and a member of the Advisory Committee of the Center for Jewish History in New York. He loves teaching and has advised about forty rabbinical theses during his years at HUC-JIR.
As he looks ahead, Meyer offers the Reform Movement a charge for the future: “The Reform Movement is moving in the direction of greater depth in religion and Jewish education than in the past, but it needs to recapture the awareness of broader Jewish destiny. It needs to cope with new challenges, including the large number of mixed couples in Reform congregations who require a sense of Jewish peoplehood. It also has to strengthen its relationship to Israel, which regrettably has weakened since the 1970s. It is up to us on the faculty at HUC-JIR to create a readiness to meet these challenges among our students.”
“The Jewish School in Exile” at Hebrew Union College
Samuel Atlas, who had taught Talmud at the Institute of Jewish Studies at Warsaw; Abrahan Joshua Heschel, formerly of the Juedisches Lehrhaus at Frankfort-am-Main and the Institute of Jewish Studies at Warsaw; Michael Wilensky, who had worked with Chaim Nachman Bialik in the Dvir Publishing House in Germany before fleeing Nazi Germany for Lithuania where he lacked work and citizenship; Eugen Taeubler, Professor of History at Heidelberg until his dismissal by the Hitler government; Julius Lewy, formerly Professor of Semitic Languages and Ancient Oriental History at Giessen and Director of its Oriental Seminary, Curator of the Hilprecht Collection of Babylonian Antiquities at the University of Jena and editor of the publications of the Vorderasiatisch-Aegyptische Gesellschaft of Berlin; Julian Morgenstern, HUC President; Alexander Guttmann, who had taught Talmud and Mishnah at the Hochschule fuer die Wissenschaft des Judentums at Berlin; Isaiah Sonne (hidden), who had taught at the Rabbinical College in Florence and later was Director of the Rabbinical College on the Island of Rhodes until Italy adopted the anti-Jewish laws of Germany; Eric Werner, formally Instructor in Jewish Music and Liturgy at the Theological Seminary of Breslau; Franz Landsberger, formerly Associate Professor of History of Art at Breslau; and Franz Rosenthal, a prize-winning Semiticist who had fled Germany.
"HUC's rescue of European scholars is a deed which has a unique historical value and will remain memorable for all times. It is a noble rescue, not alone of the Jewish teacher, but also of Jewish teaching." Letter to HUC President Julian Morgenstern, April 23, 1939, from Michael Guttmann, head of the Budapest seminary and father of Alexander Guttmann
Hitler's rise to power in the winter of 1933 was followed almost immediately by an initial implementation of his antisemitic ideology: on April 1st of that year Nazi storm troopers took up positions in front of Jewish businesses bearing placards that warned customers to keep away; Jews were assaulted in the streets and in some instances murdered. Students and faculty at the College could scarcely ignore what was happening to their brethren. They participated in the boycott of German goods; they discussed ways to stimulate American public opinion against Hitler, to advance the cause of German Jewry via diplomatic channels, and to secure relief for the refugees. Five years later, in November 1938, when German synagogues went up in smoke during the infamous Kristallnacht, HUC students sent a barrage of telegrams to President Roosevelt and urged their bi-weekly congregations to do likewise. Some of them helped to organize and publicize a giant protest meeting in Cincinnati’s Emory Auditorium.
The College had a special relationship to German Jewry. The founders had all come from its ranks, and to a large extent the Board of Governors was still composed of men whose parents or grandparents had emigrated from Germany. Various American-born members of the faculty, beginning with Morgenstern [HUC President, 1921-1947] had received their doctorates there and had made the intimate acquaintance of German Jews. But what, concretely, could the College, as an institution, do?
As it turned out, there was a saving, even unique, kind of action that HUC was able to perform. With the future of German Jewry becoming ever more hopeless, Ismar Elbogen, the head of the Hochshule (now degraded by the Nazis to Lehranstalt) für die Wissenschaft des Judentums, and Julian Morgenstern worked out an arrangement whereby a few students of the German liberal seminary could pursue their rabbinical studies at the College. If conditions permitted, they would return to Germany after ordination; if not, they would seek positions in the United States. Despite the College’s continuing financial difficulties and the ongoing lack of pulpit vacancies, its board agreed to underwrite fully the expenses of the five young men who arrived from Germany in the fall of 1935. In the next few years, three more rabbinical students from the Continent came to study in Cincinnati.
The College might have done still more. Other applicants wanted to come and were turned down. But by 1938 the refugee students made up 12 percent of the total enrollment and there was a serious question of how many foreign-born, and generally quite traditional, young rabbis the American Reform movement could absorb. Morgenstern had to consider the situation in the United States; obviously he could not know what the consequences of refusal would ultimately be. Moreover, compared to other Jewish institutions, the College was doing better than its share....
Not only rabbinical students desired the opportunity to leave Germany for the sanctuary of the Hebrew Union College. Just as urgent were the needs of Jewish scholars in Europe who sought refuge from Nazi oppression and the chance to continue with their work under conditions of freedom. They, too, hoped for a haven at the Hebrew Union College. And the College – again far more than any other American-Jewish educational institution – recognized its responsibility here as well. Beginning in 1938, and despite major political obstacles, the College succeeded in bringing no less than eight Jewish scholars to the United States and in giving employment to three other refugee professors who had managed to make their way to America by other means. [Samuel Atlas, Alexander Guttmann, Abraham Heschel, Franz Landsberger, Franz Rosenthal, Isaiah Sonne, and Eugen Täubler were brought from Europe to Cincinnati on nonquota visas. Julius Lewy and Eric Werner were already in the United States when the College offered them positions; Guido Kisch (a historian of law) was already in the United States and became a visiting faculty member of the Rabbi Stephen S. Wise’s Jewish Institute of Religion in New York. Max Wiener received his appointment while still in Germany but gained entry to the United States as a congregational rabbi. Ismar Elbogen was brought to America and maintained as a research professor in New York through a joint effort of HUC, JIR, JTS, and Dropsie College.] Most of them were not men the College needed for its program of instruction, and the expense of providing for them all was considerable. The majority of them spoke English only with difficulty. Yet Morgenstern felt the College had no choice but to pluck these brands from the fire. One of the men, Abraham Joshua Heschel, later said that in this regard the HUC President was “the least appreciated man in American Jewry.”
Some of those who came to Cincinnati, scholars like Max Wiener and Franz Rosenthal, spent only a short time at the College. Others, such as Eugen Täubler (Bible and Hellenistic literature), Isaiah Sonne (medieval Jewish history), and Franz Landsberger (Jewish art), remained to devote themselves primarily to research. The rest eventually found their way into the ranks of the regular teaching faculty. Of the last group, the one to achieve greatest prominence, Abraham Heschel, chose to leave the College after teaching for five years and attaining the rank of associate professor. During the time he was in Cincinnati, Heschel had drawn to himself a small but devoted group of disciples who appreciated his talents as a teacher of philosophy and a creative Jewish thinker. But his own traditionalism made him feel uncomfortable in the College’s Reform atmosphere. In his letter of resignation, Heschel wrote that the College had become very dear to him and that he wanted to be considered “a staunch friend of this illustrious institution,” but, he admitted, his own interpretation of Judaism was not in full accord with the teachings of the College. He therefore accepted a position at the Jewish Theological Seminary....
The simultaneous absorption of such a large number of immigrant scholars – at one point equivalent to the entire remainder of the faculty – was not an easy process....Most of the refugee scholars were not given regular faculty status until after a trial period, and some were not given it at all....But every refugee professor felt grateful to Morgenstern for giving him a place at the College. They knew that the alternative, for at least some of them, would have been almost certain death.
From Michael A. Meyer, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion at One Hundred Years, HUC Press, 1976.
As the situation in Nazi Germany grew ever more grim, the Board of Governors of the College decided much more needed to be done. At its meeting of October 20, 1938, upon the recommendation of Rabbi Solomon Freehof of Pittsburgh, it appointed a committee to consider what HUC might do to ameliorate the plight of refugee scholars, possibly providing them with room and board in the college dormitory. In the next few weeks, an imaginative project was formulated: HUC would establish a “Jewish College in Exile” on its campus. Apparently modeled on the University in Exile, which was established in 1934 by Alvin Johnson as the graduate faculty of the New School for Social Research in New York, it was initially contemplated to provide for some twenty-five German Jewish scholars of repute during a period of two to three years.
As a result of what was happening in Europe, [HUC President Julian] Morgenstern envisioned a new role for the College. When added to its existing faculty, these new men would make HUC one of the great centers of Jewish research and scholarship in the world. With the demise of the institutions of higher Jewish learning in Germany, Wissenschaft des Judentums would be transplanted to Palestine and America....In November, two weeks after Kristallnacht, Morgenstern...asked [Elbogen] to draw up a list of names. Besieged by requests for assistance from abroad, the elder scholar was deeply moved at the news: “It is the first act of speedy and ready help after the last pogrom...” From the names which Elbogen supplied, Morgenstern eventually chose nine: Alexander Guttmann, Franz Landsberger, Albert Lewkowitz, Isaiah Sonne, Eugen Taübler, Max Wiener, Walter Gottschalk, Abraham Heschel, and Franz Rosenthal. Official invitations were sent to each of them on April 6, 1939. Adding the name of Arthur Spanier...the College thus made an irre- versible commitment to ten men, some with families....[Head of the Visa Division of the State Department Avra M.] Warren concluded...that HUC could bring in professors on a non quota basis only if they were appointed “as regu- lar members of its faculty, primarily to instruct, or to confer the benefit of their knowledge upon, students thereof, and for positions of a continuing, rather than a temporary or intermittent character; provided, of course, such scholars were able to meet the requirements of the law with respect to their past voca- tional experience.”
[HUC’s rescue was complicated by U.S. State Department policy, which reject- ed those who had not served primarily as teaching faculty at a legitimate institution of higher learning comparable to HUC, thus disqualifying those who had been librarians (Gottschalk, Spanier), museum directors (Landsberger), or associated with Jewish seminaries which, like Berlin’s liberal seminary, the Hochschule, had been demoted by the Nazis to that of a Lehranstalt, a mere institute deemed inferior to HUC’s university status. Gottschalk’s visa was unconditionally rejected because he had served as a librarian. Lewkowitz and Spanier, awaiting their American visas in Amsterdam, were deported to Bergen- Belsen, where Lewkowitz was selected for a prisoner exchange in 1944 and thereupon was permitted entry to Palestine, but Spanier perished. Landsberger was released from Sachsenhausen by an invitation to visit the classicist Gilbert Murray in Oxford; while in England, special intercession secured him a non- quota visa on the basis of Morgenstern’s proffered position. Personal intercession by Henry Morgenthau, Jr., Secretary of the Treasury, to Under Secretary of State Sumner Welles, resulted in approval of Samuel Atlas’s visa.]
From Michael A. Meyer, “The Refugee Scholars Project of the Hebrew Union College,” in A Bicentennial Festschrift for Jacob Rader Marcus, 1976.
Professor Fritz Bamberger z”l, Books Are the Best Things (Society of Jewish Bibliophiles). First published in 1962, this anthology of Jewish writings on the value of Jewish books, dating from the fifth to the beginning of the eighteenth century, is now being reprinted in conjunction with the inaugural Fritz Bamberger Memorial Lecture, which will be held at HUC-JIR/NY on October 22.
Zafrira Lidovsky Cohen, “Loosen the Fetters of Thy Tongue, Woman”: A Study of the Poetry and Poetics of Yona Wallach (HUC Press). A study of the Israeli poet Yona Wallach (1944-1985), which describes her bohemian lifestyle and her critical reputation, and presents translations and interpretations of examples of her work and situates them in a variety of historical and literary contexts.
Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi, ed. with David Jobling and Gary Phillips, Levinas and Biblical Studies (Society of Biblical Literature). This book offers an introduction, from the perspective of biblical scholarship, to the writings of the Jewish philosopher Levinas and shows applications of his significant insight to biblical studies.
Dr. David J. Gilner and Laurel S. Wolfson, eds., Spinoza and Anti-Spinoza Literature: The Printed Literature of Spinozism, 1665-1832, by Fritz Bamberger, Bibliographica Judaica, vol. 15 (Klau Library, HUC-JIR/ Cincinnati). Also published in conjunction with the inaugural Fritz Bamberger Memorial Lecture, this catalogue raisonné of Bamberger’s collection (acquired by HUC-JIR in 1986 and currently housed in the Rare Book Room of the Abramov Library in Jerusalem) includes both printed books and manuscripts by and about Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677), the Dutch-Jewish humanist philosopher.
Dr. Lawrence A. Hoffman, ed., My People’s Prayerbook – Traditional Prayers, Modern Commentaries, Vol. 7 – Shabbat at Home (Jewish Lights Publishing). An exploration of Ashkenazi-style table liturgy and z’mirot (table songs) for Shabbat, which illuminates the meanings behind the traditional blessings for Kabbalat Shabbat as well as Havdalah. Contributors include Dr. Michael Chernick, Dr. David Ellenson, Dr. Alyssa Gray, Dr. Joel Hoffman, and Rabbi Lawrence Kushner.
Rabbi Steve Leder, More Money Than God: Living a Rich Life without Losing Your Soul (Bonus Books). An examination of money in the Jewish and Christian Bibles which explores its role in belief and value systems, and how it influences family, work, and philanthropy.
Dr. Michael A. Meyer, ed. with Bärbel Such, Leo Baeck Werke, Volume 6: Briefe, Reden, Aufsätze (Gütersloher Verlagshaus). A collection of previously unpublished or unknown letters, addresses, and essays in their original languages (mostly in German and some in English) with introductions and notes.
Dr. Diane Tickton Schuster, Jewish Lives, Jewish Learning: Adult Jewish Learning in Theory and Practice (UAHC Press). Providing stories of learners and teachers as well as theories of adult development and learning, this book for Jewish professionals in the field of Jewish adult education provides insights into how Jewish adults learn and grow.
Dr. Ezra Spicehandler, ed. with Stanley Burnshaw, T. Carmi, Susan Glassman, and Ariel Hirschfeld, The Modern Hebrew Poem Itself (Wayne State University Press). A new edition of the work first published in 1965 that includes a new generation of Hebrew poets; each poem is presented in Hebrew with an English phonetic transcription English translation and commentary.
Dr. Gary P. Zola, ed., and Dr. Frederic Krome, managing ed., The American Jewish Archives Journal, Vol. LIV, No. 2 (The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives). Articles, documents, review essays, and book reviews on the history of the American Jewish experience, which include such topics as the Cincinnati Bible War (1869-1873) and its impact on education of Protestants, Catholics, and Jews; the wartime letters of Rabbi Morris Frank (1944-1945); and the reassessment of American Jewry’s response to Hitler.
Allen H. Berkman, devoted friend and generous benefactor of the College-Institute, who served on the Board of Governors for over three decades and, with his beloved wife, Selma, z”l, established the Distinguished Solomon B. Freehof Professorship of Jewish Law and Practice.
Irving L. Goldman, esteemed member and honorary member of the Board of Governors and member of the Cincinnati Board of Overseers for over two decades, who established The Frances Grabow Goldman Memorial Scholarship in Advanced Judaic Studies.
Franklyn Harkavy, dedicated Emeritus member of the Cincinnati Board of Overseers, who helped build many of the programs at the Cincinnati School.
Lee Kalsman, beloved friend and generous benefactor, who with her late husband, Irving, established the Lee and Irving Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health as a national think tank for all faiths committed to healing (see page 13).
Reva Godlove Kirschberg, cherished New York Overseer and member of HUC-JIR/NY's Dean’s Council, Founding Director of the HUC-JIR/NY Museum, Chair Emerita of its Museum Advisory Committee, Registrar, and Chair of its Docent Program, whose passion for Jewish art, culture, and heritage endures as a precious legacy.
Selma Koch, beloved grandmother of Rabbi Jacqueline Koch Ellenson and Rabbi David Ellenson, who will be remembered for her indomitable spirit and her love of life.
Cecile Mihaly, beloved wife of Dr. Eugene Mihaly, z”l, who will be remembered for her dedication to HUC-JIR and its students, her commitment to social justice, and her work in support of political reform.
Dr. Franz Rosenthal, prize-winning Semiticist who fled Nazi Germany (see pp. 23, 24) and distinguished Associate Professor of Semitic Languages at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati (1940-1948).
Melvin Schulman, dedicated member of the Cincinnati Board of Overseers and supporter of HUC-JIR's programs.
Fannie Zelcer, esteemed Chief Archivist at the American Jewish Archives (1958-1989), who helped guide the Archives into becoming a world-renowned repository.
William Cutter and David C. Jacobson
Brown Judaic Studies, 2002
Unless you are Roger Angell, The New Yorker writer, you might not think of a sports figure in connection with a prominent scholar of Hebrew literature. But at a large university, many different kinds of teachers leave magnificent legacies. It is for that reason that Professor Arnold Band, an honorary alumnus of HUC-JIR, was heralded recently by the UCLA campus newspaper along with John Wooden, the legendary coach of UCLA’s dynamite basketall teams of days past. Both were considered among the twenty great teachers of the past century. And even more recently, a group of Professor Band’s friends and students collaborated to honor him in another way: with the publication of a Festschrift – a volume of essays devoted to his favorite subjects. University.
If the editors of such a volume are fortunate, the festschrift emerges – not as a dull, heavy document – but with coherence and a central theme. It can point the direction for future scholarship, and it may contain a few essays that teachers in the future will recommend to students. One of the dangers in editing such a volume is that the scholarly contributions will be “all over the map,” and another is that a scholar in some distant city will simply contribute something already underway and not related to the honoree.
As editors, David Jacobson and I were fortunate in that the authors of our articles stepped up to the line and wrote exciting fresh articles from their fields. They also kept their eyes on the basket by responding to our wish that the articles would reflect Professor Band’s wily temperament and prodigious achievements. We didn’t receive one article that did not fit our scheme and every one of the forty articles was written with exquisite care and belief in the task at hand. Our authors from throughout the world included in the range of their themes subjects related to either Classic Texts, Diaspora Literatures, or Zionism, the Holocaust and Israel. The essays were well conceived, and beautifully executed. And they honored Professor Band by doing precisely what he achieved in his career: they read documents in entirely new ways that added freshness to the well-known canons of Jewish literature.
I was proud that the Hebrew Union College Press was one of the sponsors of the book, along with many of Band’s friends and, particularly, the family of Lloyd Cotzen. Prominent among our authors were HUC-JIR faculty: Stanley Nash, Ezra Spicehandler, David Ellenson, Michael Meyer and William Cutter. In addition, several of our honorary degree recipients are represented: Ruth Kartun Blum, David Patterson, Glenda Abrahmson, Aharon Appelfeld, Gershon Shaked, and Joseph Dan. Appelfeld is one of Israel’s prominent authors, often translated into English through his amazing laconic tales of life surrounding the Holocaust; Shaked is the dean of Israel’s literary historians and critics; Josef Dan holds the Gershom Scholem Chair in Jewish Mysticism. This distinguished array of senior scholars joined with younger scholars who had actually been Band’s students.
One article dealt at length with a remarkable short story of 5 lines written in the early twentieth century about the pogrom in a major town in Russia. Another undertook a rereading of one of Yehuda Amichai’s latest poems. Michael Meyer translated and rendered brilliant commentary on Heinrich Heine’s “Princess Sabbath.” David Ellenson contributed a long and seminal article on the way in which “double consciousness” and living in two worlds has affected Jewish communal and individual behavior and legal decisions. Nearly forty more articles on different subjects flood this rich expression of thinking, research and innovation. It was a pleasure for me, as it was for Professors Shideler, Komar and Signer, to reminisce personally about the honoree and to link all of our memories to his massive contribution to Jewish Studies.
Arnold Band is one of the pioneers in Jewish Studies in the United States. His over one hundred articles and books have created a field within a field and represent the best of creative scholarly inquiry. Band’s own articles are like perfect string quartets—tending towards the concise twenty to thirty page length, gem-like in brilliance, architectural in design, all devoted to the field he helped invent. It was our hope to present him with a volume of articles that reflect his method and that approach the quality of his life’s work.
The readers will tell us if we have achieved our goal.
Dr. William Cutter
Professor of Hebrew Language and Literature, HUC-JIR/LA
The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education
Continuing education courses for professionals in education, religion, and jurisprudence, and public programs on the Holocaust, Tolerance Studies, Jewish-Christian Relations, and Jewish Values.
(513) 221-1875 ext. 355
The HUC-UC Center for the Study of Ethics and Contemporary Moral Problems
Programs for interfaith, multiethnic audiences and continuing education for professionals.
(513) 221-1875 ext. 367
The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives
Lectures by scholars studying the history of Jews in the Western Hemisphere, as well as online resources and exhibitions.
(513) 221-1875 ext. 303
The Institute for Teaching Jewish Adults
Programs and resources to enhance the profes- sional development of rabbis, cantors, educators, and communal professionals.
(213) 749-3424 ext. 4274
The Sexual Orientation Issues in Congregations and Community Initiative
Training workshops for rabbinical, education, and Jewish communal service students and alumni.
(213) 749-3424 ext. 4225
VRC-Virtual Resource Center for Sexual Orientation Issues in the Jewish Community
Online resource center for students, faculty, staff, and alumni of HUC-JIR (password required).
(213) 749-3424 ext. 4245
Summer alumni seminar, Hebrew language ulpan, teacher training programs, as well as lectures, symposia, and classes on Judaic, Israeli, and archaeology studies.
Gateways for Learning, New York School of Education
Courses and summer institutes leading to Certification in Adult or Family Education, or to a Master of Arts in Jewish Religious Education.
INTERNATIONAL AND ONLINE
Online alumni resources and learning opportunities, including annotated listing of specific websites, video and audio streaming programs, sermon resources, and more.
(213) 749-3424 ext. 4236
Lay Leadership and Regional Programs
Training programs for synagogue leadership, music, counseling, preparation for performing Berit Milah, as well as worship and study opportunities for alumni and adult learners, co-sponsored by the UAHC, HUC-JIR alumni associations, and affiliates of the Reform Movement.
Contacts: See www.huc.edu/academics/ continuing/layleaders.shtml
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and Lifelong Learning Society, Open University Florida Atlantic University
GREAT SCHOLARS SERIES/WINTER 2004
January 13/14 Dr. Reuven Firestone, HUC-JIR
Judaism and Islam: What We Share — How We Differ
January 20/21 Dr. Adam Rubin, HUC-JIR
Israel and its Arab Neighbors: New Historical Perspectives
January 27/28 Dr. David Courtney, FAU
Hebrew Mysticism in Art and Music
February 4/5 Paul Liptz, HUC-JIR
Ethnicity and Religion in the Modern Middle East
February 10/11 Dr. Alan Berger, FAU
Sacred Texts and Their Legacy for All
February 17/18 Rabbi Kurt F. Stone, FAU
Leaders in the Middle East
February 24/25 Dr. Walid Phares, FAU
Pluralism in the Middle East: Myth or Reality?
March 2/3 Dr. Mark Kligman, HUC-JIR
The Music of Jews and Arabs in the Middle East: A Common Language
Boca Raton Campus/Tuesday/1:30 - 3:15 p.m./Barry and Florence
Friedberg Lifelong Learning Center
MacArthur Campus, Jupiter/Wednesday/2:30 - 4:15 p.m.
Administration Building Auditorium
$55 Lifelong Learning Society members; $75 non-members
To register, please call (561) 297-3171 – Boca Raton or (561) 799-8667 – Jupiter to request the Lifelong Learning Society winter catalogue and registration materials.
For information about HUC-JIR’s programs in South Florida, please contact: Gerda Klein, Director of Development South Florida, (561) 738-2806 email@example.com
In Memory of Amy Newman Korn, Beloved Daughter of Miriam and Sheldon O. Newman
“Fabulous course...excellent...bravo... an intellectual level not usually found in adult courses...bring more Reform programs and speakers; this has been a remarkable series. I look forward to HUC-JIR being back on campus...it is a tremendous gift!!”
These laudatory evaluations from the adult learners who attended HUC-JIR’s Great Scholars Series at Florida Atlantic University reflect the enormous success of HUC-JIR’s programming in South Florida last winter. In collaboration with FAU’s Lifelong Learning Society, renowned scholars from HUC-JIR presented The World Today: Ethics, Changing Values, and Social Issues, a series of eight lectures examining fertility/ conception, good and evil, family values, charity, morality, heritage, law, and social justice. Each week, 630 students convened for lectures, at the Boca Raton and Jupiter campuses, featuring Dr. David Ellenson, Dr. Norman Cohen, Dr. Michael Chernick, Dr. Alyssa Gray, Dr. Wendy Zierler, Dr. Mark Washofsky, and Dr. Jonathan Cohen. Florida residents and snowbirds are cordially invited to participate in this year’s series, featuring HUC-JIR and FAU scholars.
By Ruth Friedman
The word is out and enrollment in the Miller High School Honors Program at HUC-JIR/NY increased by 500% last year to a record high of 50 students. Students are telling their friends about the program, which provides leadership training, in depth Jewish studies, and the opportunity to meet teenagers from other Reform communities.
Rabbis, cantors, and educators select students from their congregations to participate in this two-year Sunday seminar program for 11th and 12th graders from Reform synagogues in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Seymour and Claire Glass Miller, founders of the program, noted, “It says something for the quality of this program that it can draw on the precious weekends of high school students from the far reaches of the metropolitan area. The probability of their becoming future Jewish leaders is immensely gratifying to us.”
"I keep talking about the program and all that I learned. I want my friends to join the program.”
HUC-JIR rabbinical, cantorial, and education students teach and tailor the curriculum based on the interests of their students. Subjects cover Torah study, Jewish history, Israeli current events, Hebrew, and midrash, among others. Teacher Joshua Burrows, a 4th year HUC-JIR rabbinical student, emarked that the program is “a wonderful opportunity for teenagers who want to expand their Jewish learning in ways that they haven’t in other places.
“I believe that everything I have learned will eventually come out in my life, and all the information that we have learned will be applied.”
Each Sunday session includes 3 academic topics, lunch, and services. Students study Jewish texts as a foundation to evaluate critical issues facing American and world Jewry. Activities include discussion groups, midrash workshops, research projects, guest speakers, and field trips. Teachers encourage the students to share their ideas in group study sessions and help prepare them to lead similar sessions in their home synagogues. Students also learn to lead services and many lead services during the course of the program. The students’ enthusiasm for the program is apparent. Cantor Gabi Arad (NY ’03), seen teaching her students in this photo, said, “This program is a teacher’s dream because students want to be here and learn.”
“I liked our in-depth discussions best. Everyone was always able to voice their opinions.”
Jo Kay, Director of the New York School of Education and of the Miller High School, remarked, “The Miller High School Honors Program provides an opportunity for young leaders to hone their skillsandinteractwithleadersin the Jewish community, scholars, and peers in the hope that they will choose to become Jewish professionals or lay leaders in their communities.”
"The program enabled me to develop good leadership skills and discuss ideas I might not have otherwise raised."
The Miller High School Honors Program is made possible through the generous support of Seymour and Claire Glass Miller. Additional support is provided by The Fund for Jewish Education.
HUC-JIR Museum/New York
One West 4th Street, New York, NY 10012
Hours: Mon.-Thurs., 9 am 5 pm; Fri., 9 am 3 pm;
Selected Sun., 10 am 2 pm
(Oct. 19, Nov. 2 and 23, Dec. 14, Jan. 11 and 25,
Feb. 8 and 22, March 28, April 4 and 25, May 2)
Admission: Free; photo ID required for entrance.
The Art of Aging
September 2, 2003-June 25, 2004
Through painting, sculpture, photography, installation, mixed media, and video, contemporary artists from Israel and North America reflect on the diverse aspects of aging, including creativity and vitality, memory, anxiety, wisdom, physical change, loss, intergenerational interaction, responsibility, and optimism.
This exhibition is co-sponsored by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and JDC/Eshel (The Asoociation for Planning and Development of Services for the Aged in Israel).
Lynne Avadenka: Aftermath
September 2, 2003-January 25, 2004
Combining words, images, and the process of memory, Avadenka evokes September 11th, 2001 through mixed media works that are haunting in their evocation of loss, ruin, incompletion, and remembrance. In expressing the ineffable, Avadenka asserts the absolute contingency of life, our susceptibility to loss, and the strength to go on.
Living in the Moment: Contemporary Artists Celebrate Jewish Time
The presentation of new, outstanding, and innovative works of Jewish ceremonial art, created by internationally recognized artists, which are available for acquisition, so that they can enter into the lives of families and communities.
HUC-JIR Skirball Museum/Cincinnati
3101 Clifton Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45220
Hours: Mon.-Thurs., 11 am 4 pm; Sun., 2 5 pm
Information/Tours: 513-221-1875, ext. 358
An Eternal People: The Jewish Experience
The museum’s permanent exhibition focuses on the cultural heritage of the Jewish people as conveyed through seven thematic galleries: Immigration, Cincinnati Jewry, Archaeology, Torah, Jewish Festivals and Life Cycles, the Holocaust, and Israel.
Mapping Our Tears
Modeled after a 1930s European attic, this interactive, environmental theatre exhibit focuses exclusively on testimonies to map the journeys of Holocaust survivors, liberators, rescuers, and refugees, tracing their experiences from Europe to their resettlement in the Cincinnati area.
The Archaeology Center at the Skirball Museum
A hands-on learning and research facility for furthering and enhancing the study of Archaeology and integrating it with Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern history and culture. The artifacts at The Archaeology Center were discovered at HUC-JIR’s excavations in Israel spanning the 2nd to 1st millennia B.C.E.
Founded by a gift from Dr. Ira and Judy Gall.
Skirball Museum of Biblical Archaeology/Jerusalem
13 King David Street, Jerusalem, Israel 94101
Hours: Sun., Tues., Thurs., 10 am – 4 pm
Information: (02) 620-3257
The permanent exhibition focuses on the archaeological work of the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology. Artifacts and models from excavations at Tel Dan, Tel Gezer, Tel Aroer, and Tel Ira are on view. Thematic displays include the dig camp experience, religious belief and cult practice, burial behavior, gates and fortifications, and the saga of the Israelite Settlement.
HUC-JIR Skirball Cultural Center/LA
2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90049
Hours: Tues.-Sat., 12 5 pm; Sun., 11 am – 5 pm
Information: (310) 440-4500
Tours: (310) 440-4564
The Photograph and the American Dream, The Stephen White Collection II, 1840-1940
October 18, 2003-January 4, 2004
A survey of over 150 photographs presenting the American dream, which documents immigration to America, the struggle for freedom and equality, the industrial revolution, the expansion and move west, and more; organized by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and on view for the first time in the U.S.
Girl Culture: Photographs by Lauren Greenfield
September 4, 2003-January 4, 2004
Photographs and text reveal the crisis of confidence among girls and the impact of cultural attitudes on their self-image.
Visions and Values
Featuring works from the HUC-JIR Skirball Museum’s permanent collection, this exhibition traces the history, accomplishments, and values of the Jewish people over four thousand years, culminating with their experiences in the United States and contributions to American culture.
For information on HUC-JIR’s traveling exhibitions, please call (212) 824-2218.
Los Angeles, May 19, 2003
“Probing the Jewish Tradition for Moral Guidance”
Rabbi Elliot Dorff, Ph.D.
Rector and Sol & Anne Dorff Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Co-Chair of Bioethics, University of Judaism
We Jews rightfully treasure our tradition for a whole host of reasons. Among others, it gives us a sense of roots and a sense of what to hope for; it makes life meaningful by marking off the events of life and the seasons of the week and the year; it gives us a wealth of wisdom about how to live life and sets a critically important tone of questioning absolutely everything; it gives us a worldwide community in the past, present, and future; it provides us with a complete civilization, with literature, philosophy, law, music, art, dance, and a homeland; it gives us a sense of the sacred and multiple ways to interact with God.
One other reason we cherish our tradition, though, is that it often gives us moral direction and motivation. And yet in modern times, we sometimes find that it is hard to apply the tradition to the issues that confront us. Sometimes that is because modern science and technology have created facts that our ancestors could never have even imagined, let alone treated, and sometimes the challenge comes from a very different direction – namely, the new social, political, and economic circumstances in which Jews find themselves in America, circumstances with few, if any, parallels in Jewish history.
...My approach is halakhic, it does pay particular attention to Jewish law in order to discern our moral duties. But what I had in mind is not what philosophers call “legal formalism” at all – that is, an approach in which you obey the law simply because it | is the law and you determine its demands solely on the basis of what the texts say. Instead, I would use the living, dynamic Jewish legal system in which you obey the law for a whole variety of reasons and you determine its demands on the basis not only of precedent but also of theological, historical, social, moral, and even economic concerns....
Cincinnati, May 29, 2003
“Hold Fast Our Integrity: A Joban Task in a Joban World”
Dr. C. Hassell Bullock (C ’70)
Professor of Old Testament and the Franklin S. Dyrness Professor of Biblical Studies at Wheaton College
Today I want to address a topic that has become part of the soul of our American culture, and so endemic to our self-understanding, that we could say integrity is defined and explicated as the American value. That is, it is joined inextricably to our American ideas of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. To understand American life – and this is one of the many good things about us – we have to recognize how this value guides our national and private lives....
I suggest that we find the classic statement on the shape of integrity in the book of Job.... When the Almighty singled Job out, it was because he was a “blameless (Heb., tam) and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil” (Job 1:8). And when the Adversary makes his second frontal assault, God reminds him that Job “still holds fast his integrity” (Heb., tumato) [Job 2:3]. The point is that Job exhibits a consistent moral conduct,(1) based upon moral principles to which he adheres and to which he bears testimony, both in the prologue and the dialogue. The Adversary thought there had to be a chink in Job’s armor somewhere. The Hebrew word tumah (“integrity”) has the meaning of completeness, wholeness, or consistency. Therefore, we may speak of integrity as wholeness or consistency of character....
While the book focuses on a single individual and his integrity, the classical nature of the book turns the spotlight on us as religious professionals. Job’s maintenance of his integrity, so hardnosed and unrelenting, highlights a model for the academic world and the community of faith. Admittedly, it brought Job into conflict with his peers and into tension with the Deity, but it guided him through the labyrinthine ways of his life....
Colleagues, students, and congregants have every right to demand of us a consistency of character. The people whom we serve want to know that our life and actions are governed by principles that connect our private and public personae.
Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa
Dr. Geoffrey H. Hartman
Dr. Baruch A. Levine
Rabbi W. Gunther Plaut
Dr. Colette Sirat
Honorable Avraham Burg
Daniel S. Goldin
David A. Harris
Herschel Blumberg for Leon Uris, z”l
Lenore C. Kipper, R.J.E.
Rabbi Elliot Dorff, Ph.D.
The Rhea Hirsch School of Education Class of 2003, Los Angeles
The School of Jewish Communal Service Class of 2003, Los Angeles
The Doctor of Ministry Class of 2003, New York
The New York School of Education Class of 2003
The School of Graduate Studies, Doctor of Philosophy Class of 2003, Cincinnati
Cincinnati, May 31, 2003
Rabbi Uri Regev (J ‘86)
Executive Director, World Union for Progressive Judaism
It’s possible that from the time of creation it was destined that Bamidbar would be read on your ordination because, indeed, what we read in the parasha is a stage in the transformation and the progress of religious leadership. We read in the parasha that initially it was the firstborn in each tribe who would be destined to serve God and lead the religious life of the community. From this fate of birth the religious leadership was handed to a select group, the Levites, and among them the priests – the sons of Aaron.
In this modern era, we are witnessing yet another transformation. Today, we are no longer willing to afford the responsibility for leading religious life to those who are destined by fate of birth but rather to those who have selected themselves, dedicated themselves to their cause, and are accepted as such by our respective communities and the Jewish people. This is one example of the progress in addressing the challenge of leading the Jewish people in our religious undertaking.
New York, May 1, 2003
David A. Harris,
Executive Director, American Jewish Committee
Permit me to applaud you, the graduates, not only for your impressive academic achievements but, every bit as much, for taking a personal stand.
By choosing to pursue graduate studies and a career in pastoral care and counseling, education, sacred music, and, of course, the rabbinate, you say something profound about yourselves.
You say that the work of repairing this broken world is not someone else’s task, it is yours. You say that in a world where self-gratification and self-entitlement are increasingly, even obsessively, the watchwords of the day, you choose instead to focus on those in need....
In other words, in a world in which quality-of-life issues dominate, you are preoccupied with quality-of-living issues. You say, in the words of Rabbi Stephen Wise, founder of the Jewish Institute of Religion, a component of this school, that life is “not a matter of extent but of content.”
You say that in a world in quest of the material, you are in search of the sacred.
You say that in a world focused on the here and now, you are linked to a timeline that stretches back millennia and that you are determined will stretch forward no less far....
Henceforth, you will have the chance day in and day out to touch the lives of others in meaningful ways – to awaken consciences, to stir souls, to lift spirits, to open hearts, to expand knowledge, to fortify hope, to build community, to pursue justice, and, in doing so, to mobilize those around you to stand with you....
To have the twin blessings of the sovereign state of Israel and the democratic societies of the West, led by the United States, as our homes is to be given the gift of an unprecedented, previously unimaginable opportunity. Use that gift wisely. Never, never take it for granted. And always bear in mind the remarkable examples of those men and women who bequeathed us that gift. May you find strength and inspiration in their exceptional lives.
ROGER E. JOSEPH PRIZE ACCEPTANCE SPEECH
Investiture and Ordination Ceremonies
New York, May 4, 2003
At Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York
Awarded to Daniel Pearl, posthumously, and The Daniel Pearl Foundation Accepted by Professor Judea Pearl, Daniel Pearl’s father
The U.S. is now facing the challenge of building bridges of friendship toward the Muslim world, and of restoring America’s image as a beacon of values, progress and basic freedoms. The legacy of dialogue makers like Daniel Pearl, who earned the respect of decent people on both sides of the East/West divides, and who symbolize America’s humanity and goodwill, will become a powerful catalyst in forging a new and better world in the aftermath of the current conflict....
This gives us the hope that, some day, I will be able to tell my grandson:
“You see, Adam? Your father’s legacy helped us win that battle! Humanity has triumphed!”
Graduation/Ordination/ Investiture Addresses can be found at:
ROGER E. JOSEPH PRIZE
Professor Judea Pearl, father of Daniel Pearl, z”l, accepted The Joseph Prize posthumously on behalf of his son and The Daniel Pearl Foundation. He remarked, “History recalls another Jewish person whose face and tragic end personified the horrors of an era – Anne Frank. Paralleling the story of Anne Frank in the early 1950s, the drama of Daniel Pearl now inspires Jews and non-Jews alike to reflect on the anatomy of hatred and the consequences of anti- Semitism and to stand up for tolerance and understanding everywhere.”
He is pictured with Rabbi David Ellenson, Burton Lehman, Chair, HUC-JIR Board of Governors, and Joseph Family members Burton Joseph, Linda Karshan, Ellen Joseph, and Roxanne Leopold.
DR. BERNARD HELLER PRIZE
Edgar M. Bronfman President, World Jewish Congress
Cincinnati, May 29, 2003
“While I’m certainly not a Talmudist, I have a deep pride in being Jewish. That is what we must require of all our people, to study enough so that they know enough to be proud Jews. I’d like for all Jews to be as proud of their Judaism as I am of mine.
I’m charging you as rabbis who are going to be leading congrega- tions, you must find a way to bring joy into Judaism, you must find a way to attract young people. We have to make the syna- gogue the center of Jewish life once again.”
A group blessing on the newly ordained rabbis at the Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Los Angeles
The Rabbinical Class of 2003, HUC-JIR/New York at Congregation Emanu-El
The Rabbinical Class of 2003, HUC-JIR/Los Angeles
The Cantorial Class of 2003, HUC-JIR/New York
The Rabbinical Class of 2003, HUC-JIR/Cincinnati outside Plum Street Temple following Ordination
For faculty and administration appointments, visit our website at www.huc.edu/kesher