Page 6 |
Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
Annual Report
In 2003 the Friedmans endowed the Barbara and Stephen
Friedman Chair in Liturgy, Worship, and Ritual at
HUC-JIR and honored their teacher and friend, Dr.
Lawrence Hoffman, as its inaugural recipient. “This was
the first chair to be announced during Rabbi Ellenson’s
presidency, and it heralded HUC-JIR’s renewed com-
mitment to academic excellence through scholarship,
teaching, and learning. It was a symbolic moment for
us, and I was glad that my husband and I could make
this investment to further HUC-JIR’s mission of inspir-
ing Jewish faith, thought, and practice through innova-
tive approaches that are meaningful for Jews today.”
From the inception of her involvement, she has been
committed to strategic planning for the institution.
As Co-Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee and
of its Implementation Committee, she has overseen
three years of sustained work that has provided a
roadmap for HUC-JIR’s future.
The Strategic Plan addresses the urgent needs for lead-
ership for the changing Jewish world,” states Friedman.
It affirms the powerful influence that HUC-JIR can play
in the life of the Jewish people through its vision, values,
mission, and mandate. The plan creates a framework for
decision-making that is anchored in our mission and
reflects both excellence and sustainability. It strengthens
HUC-JIR’s capacity to forge a new definition of the semi-
nary as a catalyst for transforming Jewish community life.”
Friedman points to the guiding principles that are critical to
the strategic planning implementation process: inculcating
habits of excellence in all that we do, achieved through
strengthened recruitment, assessment of students, leadership
training, and faculty development; enhancing the integra-
tion of all sites into one institution, facilitated by cross-cam-
pus teaching and the use of technology; supporting core
programs while ensuring the self-sufficiency of non-core
programs; and promoting HUC-JIR’s long-term sustainabil-
ity, in order to build and grow a stronger foundation.
It is the Board of Governors’ responsibility to ensure
that this institution has the optimal structure, financial
resources, academic personnel, and research facilities
to achieve our core mission,” she asserts. “I have great
confidence in Rabbi Ellenson’s leadership and, with the
implementation of the strategic plan, my hope is to
enable Rabbi Ellenson and the College-Institute to
flourish – to attract the best faculty, recruit the most
capable students, produce significant scholarship, and
contribute new ideas to the great issues in Jewish life.”
Liberal Judaism offers so much to us today,” she adds.
It sustains the continuity of a philosophy, values, and
teachings that have instilled a love of knowledge and
an impetus to improve and heal the world.” Friedman
stresses the infusion of leadership development into the
curriculum and its capacity to educate those who under-
stand transformation, and can help to bring it about.
We need leaders who are open to new ideas, who can
invigorate our existing synagogues and institutions of
Jewish life and at the same time reach out to attract
those who are unaffiliated, engage the next generations,
and inspire them to identify and participate with the
Jewish community,” she explains. “We must attract the
best and the brightest students to our programs and
train them to be exceptional leaders with the knowledge,
skills, and integrity to elevate Reform Judaism in the
eyes of those who are resistant to it.”
She salutes Burton Lehman for his distinguished leader-
ship during the longest tenure in modern history as Chair
of the Board of Governors, saying “I am grateful to Burt
for his ongoing guidance, wisdom, and devotion to the
people and ideals of HUC-JIR.” Friedman looks for-
ward to partnership with the entire Board of Governors.
As she embarks on this new journey, Friedman is
strengthened by her devoted family – her husband
Stephen, their children Suzy and David Cohen,
Caroline and David Levy, and Amanda and David
Benioff Friedman, and their grandchildren, Téa and
Evelina Levy and Sam and Zeke Cohen as well as a
new grandchild expected in March.
HUC-JIR plays a major role in the future of the
Jewish people,” Friedman concludes. “It is an honor
for all of us to help Rabbi Ellenson advance a Judaism
that speaks, in a progressive voice, of tradition, ethical
values, tolerance, and interdenominational and inter-
religious understanding.”
Barbara Friedman
The Friedmans
and their grand-
children: (from left)
Barbara Friedman,
Téa Levy, Zeke and
Sam Cohen, Stephen
Friedman, and
Evelina Levy.