Rabbi Jonathan L. Hecht, Ph.D., serves as Dean of HUC-JIR’s Cincinnati campus. He was appointed Dean on July 1, 2018.
Rabbi Hecht previously served as rabbi at Temple Chaverim from 1992 to 2018, serving Eastern Nassau and Western Suffolk Counties of Long Island. During the 26 years, he created a vibrant and inclusive community that enjoyed exponential growth of its membership. He worked to remove barriers both physical and spiritual, and welcome diverse gender expression and interfaith families. He participated in two capital campaigns; played a central role in the planning, design, and building of its new facility; and guided strategic planning and visioning. Rabbi Hecht worked collaboratively to implement digital distance learning in the Religious School; innovative b’nai mitzvah workshops and teen engagement programs; creative programming for adults; and successful social action efforts and mitzvah day opportunities. In 2018, Temple Chaverim bestowed the title of Rabbi Emeritus on him.
Rabbi Hecht was ordained on the HUC-JIR campus in 1987, and received his Ph.D. from New York University. HUC-JIR awarded Rabbi Hecht with the Doctor of Divinity degree, honoris causa, in 2012 for his 25 years of distinguished service to the Jewish people. Very active in the Jewish broader community during his tenure on Long Island, Rabbi Hecht is a past President of the Long Island Board of Rabbis and served on the Board of the Mid-Island Y JCC. He represented his congregation through involvement with the UJA-Federation, the Plainview-Old Bethpage Interfaith Clergy Coalition, the Chamber of Commerce, and through work with local politicians.
He served as a Chaplain of the 106th Air Rescue Wing of the New York Air National Guard from 1987-1998, where he held the rank of Major. He received the Air Force Achievement Medal in 1997 for his dedicated service, including the creation of the Suicide Prevention and Holocaust Remembrance Day programs. He has appeared on television and was a consultant and featured expert in the History Channel’s production, Bible Battles. Rabbi Hecht taught for many summers at the Union for Reform Judaism’s Eisner and Crane Lake Camps.