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Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
Annual Report
academic programs, named professorships, student schol-
arships, the resources of the libraries and archives, and
cutting-edge projects and institutes in Jewish education,
pastoral counseling, Judaism and health, outreach,
Sephardic studies, assessment, and Jewish renaissance in
the Former Soviet Union.
The revitalization and unification of the faculty has
been a primary focus for me, since they are integral to
this academic enterprise,” he explains. Over a score of
gifted emerging scholars across the spectrum of advanced
Judaic studies, including many women, have joined the
faculty under his watch. He is especially enthusiastic
about the biennial faculty retreats, designed to develop
and imple-
ment the core
rabbinical cur-
riculum, and
to better inte-
grate faculty
research and
teaching to
fulfill the goal
of one institu-
tion, multiple
Other milestones during Lehman’s tenure include the
transformation of the Los Angeles School into a fully
ordaining entity and the expansion of the School of
Sacred Music to a five-year program.
HUC-JIR is a much stronger and better institution
than it was in 1996, due to the leadership of its Presidents
during this period – Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman, Dr.
Norman Cohen’s interim presidency, and Rabbi David
Ellenson – and the great efforts of the Deans, program
heads, faculty, and staff,” says Lehman. “We, as Governors,
can rightly take pride in the achievements of the institution,
knowing that our glory only reflects the excellence of
those we have chosen to be at the professional helm. Of
course, tribute should also properly be paid to Dr. Alfred
Gottschalk for his twenty-five years of inspired leadership.”
Lehman’s partnership with Rabbi Ellenson is imbued
with a shared devotion to HUC-JIR’s stateside mission
and the Jerusalem campus’s role in building a progres-
sive, liberal alternative in Israel. Together, they weathered
the crucible of the Intifada, and were steadfast in their
commitment to sustain the integrity and continuity of
the academic programs in Israel. “That long period of
intensive suicide bombings was a terribly anxious time,
and Rabbi Ellenson and I were tremendously gratified by
the Board’s staying the course and demonstrating the
Reform Movement’s unwavering support for the people
and State of Israel.”
He has made certain that the Board of Governors meets
in Jerusalem periodically and has enthusiastically encouraged
many Governors to go to Israel for the beginning of the
new academic year during the summer and for ordina-
tion in the fall. “My annual trips to Israel have been
among the most fulfilling times of my tenure. Witnessing
the expansion of the Israel Rabbinical Program, the
remarkable quality of our students there, and their brav-
ery, motivation, and accomplishments, in the face of such
daunting odds against religious pluralism in Israel, are
simply inspirational.”
Lehman is grateful to all of the members of the Board of
Governors for their friendship and dedication and espe-
cially thanks Vice Chairs Howard Bernstein and Frederic
Lane, for their invaluable work and assistance in provid-
ing guidance, and Sylvia Posner for her unerring institu-
tional memory and unflagging devotion to HUC-JIR.
He welcomes Barbara Benioff Friedman as his successor,
saying “I believe that each institution benefits greatly
from having new people as its leaders – people with new
ideas and energy. Barbara Friedman has already contributed
so much to HUC-JIR by heading up and developing the
Strategic Planning Process, recruiting so many Governors
as Chair of the Nominating Committee, and participat-
ing in the critical decisions we have made. Her tireless
efforts, clear resolve, and steady determination to see the
Plan implemented in a way that will assure achievement
of its promise demonstrate that she will be a spectacular
Chair of the Board.”
As Lehman moves onward, he looks forward to the con-
tinued joy of his family life with his wife Brenda, their
children Melinda and Stephen Lehman, Haley and
Douglas Lehman, and their grandchildren Matthew, David,
Julia, and Sophie. “But lest any of you have any doubt
about my continuing dedication, I want you to know
that I intend to participate for many years to come,” he
adds. “My love and devotion to the College-Institute
and especially to its people are too great for me to with-
draw from active involvement.”
Burton Lehman
The Lehman
family: (from left)
Douglas, Haley,
Sophie, Burton,
David, Brenda,
Julia, Steve,
Melinda, and