abbi Moses Isserles (1520-1572), the great
author of the preeminent code of Jewish law,
enunciated the principle
the present time” in his own legal
writings. This principle holds that if contemporary
sociological conditions and philosophical under-
standings have changed from what they were in
earlier epochs, then adaptations and changes in
customs and practices are permitted and even
required. Rabbi Isserles was teaching us that
Judaism views change and adaptation as constant
parts of our
heritage), even as our peo-
ple continues to find rootedness and celebrates
the sense of community that derives from the
traditions that we have inherited.
HUC-JIR is building upon the past even as we
stand on the frontlines of those who anticipate
and chart the changes that mark the Jewish peo-
ple today. We do this by anchoring our students
in traditional texts and developing the innovative
academic and professional programs that address
the emerging needs of our people.
In this issue of
we report on our
proactive approach to new trends within the Re-
form Movement and the Jewish and larger world:
unsettling data presented
by the just-released demographic study on the
New York Jewish community and its implica-
tions for our Reform Movement (pages 2-4);
Our role in nurturing interreligious understanding
through our graduate studies programs (page 5);
New initiatives preparing educational leaders to
transform Jewish education (pages 6-7);
The revisioning of
youth engagement (pages 8-9);
Supporting congregants through illness and
wellness through our groundbreaking pastoral
care programs (pages 10-11);
Novel approaches to theology discovered in
Israeli literarature (page 12);
Linguistic studies as a key to understanding
the American Jewish community (page 13);
The latest faculty scholarship (page 14-15);
The role of our alumni as Reform clergy in
military chaplaincy (pages 16-17); and
The power of art in promoting LGBTQI
inclusivity and human rights (page 24).
As our Tradition asserts, “
changing times are unavoidable. We at the
College-Institute and in the Reform Movement
embrace its opportunities.
We are thankful to our devoted Board of Governors,
Boards of Overseers, the congregations and leaders
of Reform Judaism, our many generous friends,
and our faculty and students for their abiding
support for our mission. My wife Jackie joins me
in expressing heartfelt wishes for a New Year
blessed with health, peace, and joy for you and
your loved ones.
Rabbi David Ellenson ‘77, Ph.D.,
Change is the Law of Life
A Publication of
Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
In this issue:
Steven M. Cohen, Ph.D.
Steven Windmueller, Ph.D.
Jay H. Geller
Jonathan Krasner, Ph.D.
Rabbi Aaron Panken, Ph.D.
Dr. Nili S. Fox
Rabbi Melissa Zalkin Stollman
Rabbi Carole B. Balin, Ph.D.
Dr. Isa Aron & Rabbi Bradley Solmsen
Rabbi Julie S. Schwartz
Rabbi Nancy Wiener, D.Min.
Rabbi Haim O. Rechnitzer, Ph.D.
Sarah Bunin Benor, Ph.D.
Rabbi Norman J. Cohen, Ph.D.
Rabbi Reuven Firestone, Ph.D.
Cantor David Frommer
Rabbi Rick Jacobs
Senator Russell Feingold
Rabbi William Cutter, Ph.D.
Professor Sara S. Lee
Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie
Cantor Angela Warnick Buchdahl
May you be written
and inscribed for
a good year.