Dear Friends:
D
uring difficult times, it is hard
to imagine that one individ-
ual’s capacity to take action can
make a difference. But the Rabbis
understood that even the smallest
act of
hesed
,
social responsibility,
can change the world. After the destruction of the Second Temple
in Jerusalem in 70 C.E., the Rabbis who succeeded the prophets
and priests as the leaders of the Jewish community were able to
bring comfort and vision. They pointed to Torah as the core of
Jewish experience and the source of values with which to address
and surmount the challenges of a destabilized community.
Their teachings, compiled in the
Pirke Avot
,
inspired textile artist
Peachy Levy’s “One
Mitzvah
Draws Another
Mitzvah
on the cover
of this Annual Report. Levy chose the pomegranate to illustrate
Rabbi Ben Azzai’s words – “Run to fulfill a slight
mitzvah
as if it
were a weighty one
for one good deed brings forth another” –
because the biblical fruit is said to contain 613 seeds, the number
of
mitzvot
in the Torah, and expresses the infinite possibility
of individual acts of goodness that can transform our world.
Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakkai’s response to the crisis of 1st-century
Judaism was to create the yeshiva of Yavneh, recognizing that the
study of Torah would ensure Jewish survival. His response to the
Temple’s destruction was the pragmatic agenda of developing the
scholars and leaders who would sustain and transmit our ethics and
tradition. His vision held true, for no Jewish community throughout
history has thrived without a strong center of higher Jewish learning.
Ben Azzai’s optimism and Ben Zakkai’s pragmatic activism lie at
the heart of our mission at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute
of Religion. Our students and alumni are builders of a vibrant
Judaism, imbued with the commitment to social justice, scholar-
ship, pastoral care, inclusivity, innovation, creativity, and spiritual
strength. They extend HUC-JIR’s mission in communities large
and small throughout North America, Western Europe, the
Former Soviet Union, Israel, and around the world.
Our mission has been fulfilled during the 2007-08 academic year
through a myriad of academic programs, faculty initiatives, and
research resources.
In February we celebrated the conclusion of the College-Institute’s
first capital campaign; we raised close to $145 million and exceeded
our goal by $10 million. The campaign enabled us to increase
scholarship support by over $13 million for our students; to endow
9
new chairs for senior faculty and young emerging scholars; to
enhance the academic, intellectual, cultural and religious life of the
College-Institute through new programs and innovative centers and
institutes; to employ cutting edge technologies for both the academic
enterprise
and
the improvement of business, administrative, and
student management functions; and to improve the quality of life
on our campuses with building and renovation projects, including
the new Edwin Malloy Education Building of the American Jewish
Archives and a state-of-the-art renovation and expansion of the Klau
Library. The funds raised in this historic campaign enabled HUC-
JIR to further the goals of our strategic plan emphasizing academic
excellence, financial sustainability, and the integration of our four
campuses into one institution.
Through a generous gift from Burt and Gerry Belzer we now have
electronic classrooms on each of our campuses. These classrooms,
which are in constant demand, are facilitating faculty coordination,
collaboration, and team-teaching, and are already expanding the student
learning experience, enhancing faculty scholarship, and promoting
excellence in all of our academic programs. Notably, Drs. Tamara
Eskanazi and Andrea Weiss are teaching a class in Bible using the
newly published
Torah: A Woman’s Commentary
for 4th- and 5th-
year rabbinical students in New York and Los Angeles (see page 10).
We have welcomed new members of our administration: Deborah
Abelson and Shena Potter Jaffee as Regional Directors of Admissions
and Recruitment; J. Thomas Brown as National Registrar; Sheri
Sable as Director of Development, Midwest Region; Adam Greenwald
as Assistant Director of Development and Public Affairs, Western
Region; Rivka Ben Daniel as Educational Director of DeLeT in
Los Angeles; and Julie Pelc as Assistant Director of the Kalsman
Institute in Los Angeles.
We have renewed our faculty with gifted emerging scholars who will
strengthen the teaching and mentorship on all of our campuses:
In Los Angeles, Rabbi Joshua Garroway, Ph.D. has been appointed
Assistant Professor of Early Christianity and Second Commonwealth
and Dr. Leah Hochman is the newly named Assistant Professor of
Jewish Thought. They are joined by Dr. Meir Seidler, HUC-JIR’s
first Visiting Professor of Israel Studies through a generous gift from
the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, Lief
Rosenblatt, and Robin and Elliott Broidy (see page 22).
Supported by a challenge gift from Joseph Neubauer, Chairman
of Aramark, we raised $1.5 million and named a chair in Jewish
Communal Service in honor of our rabbi and teacher and former
President of HUC-JIR, Chancellor Emeritus Alfred Gottschalk.
Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
2007-2008
Annual Report
| Page 1
President’s Message
Rabbi David Ellenson
(
continued on next page)