President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Dr. Gary P. Zola as a Member of the Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad. Dr. Zola is the Executive Director of The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, the world's largest freestanding research center dedicated solely to the study of the American Jewish experience. Dr. Zola serves as Professor of the American Jewish Experience at HUC-JIR. Dr. Zola was the organizer and chair of the congressionally recognized Commission for Commemorating 350 Years of American Jewish History from 2002 to 2005. In 2006, he joined the Academic Advisory Council of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. In announcing a number of presidential appointments, President Obama said, "Our nation will be greatly served by the talent and expertise these individuals bring to their new roles. I am grateful they have agreed to serve in this Administration, and I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead."
Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D., President, HUC-JIR, states, "The College-Institute is extremely proud that President Obama has elected to appoint our own Professor Gary Zola to membership on the Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad. The selection of a faculty member to serve on such a Presidential Commission is unparalleled in the history of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and reflects the outstanding reputation Dr. Zola has achieved as Director of the American Jewish Archives and as Professor of the American Jewish Experience at HUC-JIR. I have every confidence that Professor Zola will contribute significantly to the work of the Commission in preserving historical sites in Europe - including cemeteries ravaged by the Nazis during World War II - related to the interests of the American nation and its citizens. I offer my warmest congratulations to Dr. Zola personally on this appointment, and am grateful that the achievements and talents of our colleague and teacher have been recognized in such a singular way."
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York will hold Graduation Ceremonies on Thursday, May 5, 2011 at 4 pm and Investiture & Ordination Ceremonies on Sunday, May 8, 2011 at 9 am. The convocations will take place at Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York (10 East 66th Street entrance for Graduation; Fifth Avenue at 65th Street entrance for Ordination/Investiture). Rabbi Ellenson will present honorary degrees and awards to leading academic, communal, and civic leaders; award earned degrees to HUC-JIR's graduates; ordain the Rabbinical Class of 2011; and invest the Cantorial Class of 2011.
Muslim leaders from halfway across the globe gathered with local clergy and academics at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Jack H. Skirball Campus (HUC-JIR) on April 11, 2011. The group from the Doha International Center For Interfaith Dialogue (DICID) in Qatar took part in the event sponsored by the Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement, of which HUC-JIR is a partner with the Omar Ibn Al Khattab Foundation and the University of Southern California. Participants broke into groups of two as part of a traditional Jewish method of study known as "chevruta" - but in this case with one Jew and one Muslim rather than the usual two Jews - and engaged in a close text study of the story of temptation in the Garden of Eden as it appears in the Torah and Quran. Rabbi Reuven Firestone, founder and co-director of the Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement and HUC-JIR Professor of Medieval Judaism and Islam, said such close encounters can go a long way to facilitating meaningful discussion and deepening respect between these two worlds. "They're not used to this kind of dialogue, at least in the last 300 hundred years," he said.
The Benderly Boys and American Jewish Education, a new book by Dr. Jonathan Krasner, Associate Professor of the American Jewish Experience at HUC-JIR, has just been published by Brandeis University Press. The book tells the story of how Samson Benderly and his proteges revolutionized Jewish education in the United States between 1910 and 1970. Samson Benderly was the first director of the Bureau of Jewish Education in New York and a champion of progressive education, American-Jewish integration, Zionism and the promotion of modern Hebrew. Benderly sought to modernize Jewish education by professionalizing the field, creating an immigrant-based, progressive supplementary school model, and spreading the mantra of community responsibility for Jewish education. He realized that his best hope for transforming the educational landscape nationwide was to train a younger generation of teachers, principals, and bureau leaders. These young men - and a few women - became known collectively as the "Benderly Boys," who, from the 1920s to the 1970s, were the dominant force in Jewish education-both formal and informal-in the United States.
In celebration of Dynamic Judaism [Yahadut Dynamit], an anthology of the work of Mordecai Kaplan, a stimulating panel discussion was held at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem on April 4, 2011. Edited by Mel Scult and Emanuel S. Goldsmith, this anthology makes Kaplan's work and thought available in Israel in a new and inviting format. Sponsored by HUC-JIR and the Kaplan Center of Mevakshe Derech, the celebration was held in the Abramov Library at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem. The panel was chaired by Rabbi Marc Rosenstein, Director, Israel Rabbinical Program, and introduced by Rabbi Naamah Kelman, Dean, HUC-JIR/Jerusalem. Mel Scult spoke in English on "The Threat of Kaplan's Pragmatism," Dr. Yehoyada Amir, Associate Professor of Jewish Thought, spoke in Hebrew on "Kaplan's God- Theology and Mitzvot," and Professor Yossi Turner of the Schechter Institute spoke in Hebrew on "Kaplan's Concept of Zion and the Diaspora."
Fifth-year rabbinical student Sarah Bassin, who will be ordained at Wilshire Boulevard Temple on May 15, 2011, will take over the directorship of NewGround, a Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change. NewGround provides opportunities for Muslims and Jews of all backgrounds to build honest, authentic relationships with one another, to establish a common commitment to change, and to become a new cadre of leaders who inspire hope in a troubled world.
Dr. Steven Windmueller, Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk Emeritus Professor of Jewish Communal Service at the Jack H. Skirball Campus at HUC-JIR/Los Angeles, writes, "A global revolution is underway. It is most directly manifested in the marketplace and through the communications and technological revolution. These external forces have profoundly changed the nature of work, access to financial resources, how people live, and what are the core values around which they build their lives. The impact of these global and economic changes is also transforming communities and nonprofit institutions, including the world of the synagogue. These changes within Jewish life involve the emergence of new institutional models of religious and communal life, designed to offer meaning and access to a new generation of seekers and activists."
This year, the story of liberation from Egypt is being told on the back drop of a contemporary story of liberation in that same country. Rabbi Ruth Sohn, Director of the Leona Aronoff Rabbinic Mentoring Program and Rabbi of the Lainer Beit Midrash at HUC-JIR, spent six months living in Egypt and is currently working on a book about her experience. In sharing her thoughts on how the ancient story and the modern reality come together, she explains, "Everyone loves charoset and I have always been intrigued by the tradition of dipping the maror in charoset before we offer the blessing and ingest the bitterness of slavery. Only in the presence of something sweet can we fully take in the bitterness of the maror. Only when hope glimmers can we allow ourselves to feel the full force of the bitterness of our suffering."
Rabbi Ruth Abusch-Magder, Ph.D., Editor of HUC-JIR's Blog of Continuing Jewish Learning, writes, "I often think that Passover is the Jewish equivalent of Christmas. Both are holidays for which there is significant preparation, anticipation, and expectations. Both are holidays when we make a special effort to reach out to family and gather together in celebration. Both have rituals and customs but also meanings that go beyond what is openly stated and done. And both holidays share much in the way of culinary and entertaining/ritual advice to be found on how to do the holidays 'right.' In addition to helping Jews understand the importance of Passover, it is incumbent upon Jewish professionals to help provide tools and frameworks for coping with our anxieties and the very real complexities of the holiday." Rabbi Abusch-Magder spoke with Sarah Spencer, a marriage and family therapist, who pointed out that many of the rituals and forms of the Seder provide a fantastic structure for dealing with difficulties. Discussing her understanding of the Seder as a model of how to create diverse community, Rabbi Abusch-Madger shares her appreciation for how the Seder might provide some clues to diffusing the tensions it creates.
Jennifer Gubitz, a fourth-year rabbinical student at HUC-JIR/New York, writes, "As we recall the story of the Jewish people, of our redemption from slavery in Egypt, we remember also the story of our own families: the journeys and experiences that shaped us, the people and places, and the faces that sat across from us, shared meals with us, shared the story with us - for so many years. We can't help but want to set a place for them at the table, hoping that they will walk in the door years after they've departed. We can't help but want to hear their voices singing, laughing. We can't help but want to smell their perfume, to taste their cooking, to see their smile. While our memories are but meager substitute for the warm hug we so long to experience, may we find solace and comfort in knowing that while they may be gone, our memories endure."
|Dr. Sarah Bunin Benor, Associate Professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies, spoke to the Sisterhood of Pasadena Jewish Temple & Center about Jewish language and identity. Dr. Benor also served as an expert witness in a defamation trial.|
|Dr. Michael J. Cook, Bronstein Professor of Judeo-Christian Studies, was invited by the 2011 Stone-Campbell Journal Conference to critique, on April 8, the forthcoming book, Jesus among Friends and Enemies, eds. C. Keith and L. Hurtado, published by Baker Academic 2011.|
|Rabbi Reuven Firestone, Ph.D., Professor of Medieval Jewish, will participate in an international symposium, "Legal Scholar - Preacher - Spiritual Adviser: Changing Roles of Rabbis, Pastors, and Priests" in Regensburg, Germany on September 19-22, 2011. Click here for further information.|
|Dr. Leah Hochman, Director, Louchheim School for Judaic Studies, and Assistant Professor of Jewish Thought, will be the Scholar in Residence during Temple Sinai of Las Vegas's annual retreat to Zion National Park on April 29-May 1, 2011. Dr. Hochman will be teaching and learning on "Telling Our Stories: Jewish Stories About Ourselves and Others," "The Beauty in Judaism, Aesthetics, Nature and Religion," and "It's Not Easy Being Green: Nature, Jewish Ethics, the Beautiful and You."|
|Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, Ph.D., Barbara and Stephen Friedman Professor of Liturgy, Worship, and Ritual, will participate in an international symposium, "Legal Scholar - Preacher - Spiritual Adviser: Changing Roles of Rabbis, Pastors, and Priests" in Regensburg, Germany on September 19-22, 2011. Click here for further information.|
|Rabbi Leonard Kravitz, Ph.D., Professor of Midrash & Homiletics, presented the Founders' Day sermon on March 17, 2011 at HUC-JIR/New York. Click here to read his sermon, "A Matter of Definition."|
|Rabbi Dalia Marx, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Liturgy and Midrash, along with Dr. Ursula Rudnick, a Lutheran minister, will present "The Shared Testament: A Jewish-Christian Reading," an online inter-religious dialogue about theology, feminism, and interpretation of the Hebrew Bible. Click here for further information.|
|Bruce Phillips, Ph.D., Professor of Jewish Communal Service, will present a talk on "Not Quite White: Jewish Residential Patterns in Greater Los Angeles" during USC Casden Institute's May symposium on "Los Angeles Jews of Yesterday and Today." The symposium will explore the historical and cultural aspects of Jewish life in Los Angeles from the early 1900s until today.|
|Rabbi Gary Zola, Ph.D., Executive Director of The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives and Professor of the American Jewish Experience, will serve as the Bernice and Seymour Nordenberg Scholar-In-Residence at North Shore Congregation Israel in Glencoe, IL, on April 29-May 1, 2011. The weekend will also mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of the congregation. Click here for further information.|
On Wednesday, April 27, 2011, from 1:00-4:00 pm, rabbinical students at the Jack H. Skirball Campus at HUC-JIR/Los Angeles will present their theses. On Thursday, April 28, 2011, from 9:30 am-2:40 pm, students in the Rhea Hirsch School of Education will present their Curriculum Projects. This will be followed by an all-school final tefillah, lunch, and then School of Jewish Nonprofit Management theses presentations.
On Thursday, April 28, 2011, artists Laurie Gross and Susan Jordan will join Dr. Norman Cohen, Professor of Midrash at HUC-JIR/New York, for a discussion of "The Seven Days of Creation," a monumental tapestry created by the artists. The textile, composed of jacquard woven and hand-embroidered cotton, is split into seven panels and has embroidered imagery depicting God's creation from the first day to the Sabbath. A reception will be held from 5:00-7:00 pm, with a panel discussion from 5:45-6:45 pm. Photo ID and RSVP required: firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-824-2293. This program is presented by the Irma and Abram S. Croll Center for Jewish Learning and Culture, and with the support of Cantor Mimi Frishman and Rabbi Louis Frishman.
The HUC-UC Ethics Center will host "Ashes to Ashes," a play by Harold Pinter addressing nature of human relationships and memories of political violence. The play will be followed by a discussion with a psychoanalyst and a Holocaust expert. The play will be presented on April 30 and May 1, and is presented by and benefits the Cincinnati Psychoanalytic Institute. Both events will take place in the chapel at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati, in cooperation with the American Jewish Archives.
On Wednesday, May 10, 2011, the American Jewish Archives at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati will host the premiere of the film, "Jewish & Basketball: An American Love Story." The story is brought to life through Dustin Hoffman's narration, and interviews with dozens of passionate and articulate fans, writers, executives. Fans including Ron Howard and Larry King connect the stories of baseball to their own lives, and to the turbulent history of the last century. Their stories are inter-cut with dramatic and never-before-seen film clips and photos of great Jewish players, unforgettable games, and the broad sweep of American history.
The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati will host 'Travels in American Jewish History - A Journey of Jewish Identity & Discovery to Historic Savannah, Georgia" from June 1-5, 2011. This unique program will offer participants the opportunity to travel to Savannah to examine its particular Jewish heritage while studying with the foremost scholars of American Jewish history.
Rabbi Yaron Kapitulnik (NY' 10, NYSOE '10), Rabbi and Educator at Temple Judea of Palm Beach County, travelled to New York with his confirmation class on March 11-13, 2011. With 13 students, he visited HUC-JIR/New York, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, B'nei Jeshurun, Central Synagogue, the Jewish Museum, the Heritage Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Rabbi Kapitulnik explained, "It was an amazing trip in which we could see how, in three days, our students grew and transformed, deepening their understanding of what being Jewish means to them." Student Taylor Gish stated, "This trip allowed me to see just how much I didn't know. Jewish immigration and assimilation in North America, specifically New York, was something I never even thought about before. I guess when one just practices a religion out of habit, the history of how it came to shape and form for where you are now becomes forgotten. Wanting to be Jewish now means something to me."