William Cutter - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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William Cutter, Rabbi, Ph.D.

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Contact Information

(213) 765-2180
Steinberg Emeritus Professor of Human Relations

HUC-JIR/Los Angeles

Rabbinical Program, Los Angeles; Rhea Hirsch School of Education, Los Angeles; Louchheim School of Judaic Studies, Los Angeles
Academic Field: 
Language and Literature; Professional Development

Dr. William Cutter is Steinberg Emeritus Professor of Human Relations at HUC-JIR's Skirball Campus in Los Angeles, where he held the Paul and Trudy Steinberg Chair in Human Relations, and was Professor of Modern Hebrew Literature and Education. He has taught at HUC-JIR since 1965, and has served in several administrative capacities throughout his academic career. In earlier stages of his career he founded three of the ongoing programs of the College-Institute: the Rhea Hirsch School of Education, the MUSE program of the Skirball Museum, and the Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health. He also was the founding director of the Louchheim School of Jewish Studies at USC.

Dr. Cutter has written nearly 200 articles on literary theory, Modern Hebrew Literature, Educational Theory, and health and healing as part of Jewish experience. He has published over 50 scholarly articles and essays, and over 200 popular articles on literature, health and healing, and Jewish education. He has edited or served on the editorial committee for more than 40 books for the prominent publisher Berhman House Books. His most recent publication is Midrash and Medicine, published by Jewish Lights (2010). He is also the editor of Healing and the Jewish Imagination: Spiritual and Practical Perspectives on Judaism and Health (2/07, Jewish Lights Publishing); the Festschrift: History and Literature, essays in honor of Arnold Band (Scholars Press); and The Mourner's Handbook (Behrman House Books). He is academic chairman for the Association of Reform Zionists (ARZA).

He has served on numerous community advisory boards and committees, and has been on the Board of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. Dr. Cutter is one of the founders of the Academic Coalition for Jewish Bioethics, where he recently served as president. Bill Cutter remains active in several projects in Israel, where he assists in the development of chaplaincy programs, and works on his Hebrew literary publishing projects. He also continues to teach at the College-Institute.

Dr. Cutter presented the address at HUC-JIR’s Ordination Ceremony in Los Angeles on May 13, 2012 and he received the Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, at HUC-JIR’s Graduation Ceremony in Los Angeles on May 14, 2012.


  • Published more than 150 articles on various subjects, including two edited books, and a variety of scholarly articles on the relationship of literary theory to the development of modern religious consciousness.
  • Founding Director of the HUC-JIR's Rhea Hirsch School of Education
  • Co-founder of the HUC-JIR Skirball Museum education program, with Nancy M. Berman: "MUSE," a National Endowment for the Arts funded project.
  • Developed the Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health.
  • Member of several boards and committees in his community and within the Reform Jewish Movement, including: The Committee on Zionist Thought of the Reform Movement, the Committee for the Siddur of the Reform Movement, and a number of other key commissions.
  • Editor of text books at Behrman House Books since 1983.
Selected Publications and Edited Works

On History and Literature: New Readings of Jewish Texts in Honor of Arnold J. Band (with David C. Jacobson, Brown Judaic Studies, 2002), Chronicle Issue 62 (2003). Available online: http://www.huc.edu/chronicle/62/HistoryAndLiterature.pdf

"A Century and More: Hebrew Poetry and the Swift Chariot," Chronicle Issue 59 (2001).

Available online: http://www.huc.edu/chronicle/59/59-09.pdf

"O, What Good Times They Had" – Founder’s Day Address, March 2, 1998. Available online: http://www.huc.edu/faculty/faculty/pubs/acutter.html

Public Lecture Topics
Dr. Cutter is known especially as a speaker and teacher on topics ranging from The Rise of Modern Israeli Culture, to Jewish Health and Healing Issues, and including many aspects of Israeli and American Literature. His training model: Therapoetics, has been presented at the Association of Poetry Therapy, the Esalen Institute, and at organizations and synagogues throughout the U.S. and Israel. His work on narrative approaches to bio-ethics has been published in several journals and books, and he has presented this work at over 20 forums and university classes.
Ecclesiastes and the Late Work of Amichai
Therapoetics: Healing Themes in Modern Poetry
A Liberal Zionism: Language and Jewish Nationalism
Early Secular Themes in Religious Nationalism
A Contemporary Approach to Bio-Ethics: Narrative and Progressive Thought
Quality of Life in Jewish Bio-Ethics
Issues of Death and Dying on the Jewish Agenda