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The Board of Governors has unanimously approved the expansion of the rabbinic program of the Los Angeles School to a full rabbinic program culminating in ordination.

Rabbi Zimmerman stated "This monumental decision by the College-Institute's Board of Governors will enable us to complete the integration of the Los Angeles School's rabbinic program into a unified academic program and core curriculum linking our four centers of rabbinic training in Cincinnati, Los Angeles, New York and Jerusalem. It fulfills our mission as the national and international institution of higher Judaic studies training rabbis, cantors, educators, communal professionals and scholars for leadership of Reform congregations and schools and of the communal and educational institutions of North American and world Jewry."

The unanimous decision at the Board meeting in Los Angeles on February 15, reflects an appreciation of the burgeoning significance of the Reform Movement in the Western States and nationally, and the growing number of West Coast Reform congregations and schools seeking professional and spiritual leadership trained at HUC-JIR.

Burton Lehman, Chir of the Board of Governors, noted "From its inception, the Los Angeles School has been in the forefront of academic innovation, from its establishment of the first graduate program of Jewish communal studies in America (The Irwin Daniels School of Jewish Communal Studies), its development of the internationally recognized Rhea Hirsch School of Education, and its Jerome H. Louchheim School of Judaic Studies, serving as the undergraduate Jewish studied department for the University of Southern California (a unique relationship between a secular university and seminary). The HUC-JIR faculty in Los Angeles includes some of the preeminent scholars of Judaic studies in the areas of Jewish education, Hebrew, rabbinic and midrashic literature, history, theology, sociology, and communal service."

"The College-Institute -- as the intellectual and spiritual arm of the Reform Movement -- has been at the forefront of Jewish religious, intellectual and professional life in the Los Angeles community and Western region for more than four and a half decades. Rabbinic education provides the foundation for a life-long career of learning, teaching, counseling, and spiritual leadership. With the addition of two years of rabbinic training, ordinees of the Los Angeles School, along with those of HUC-JIR's other centers of learning, will add a vibrant dimension to the Reform Movement and Jewish life in the Western United States," stated Dr. Lewis M. Barth, Dean, HUC-JIR/Los Angeles.

The Irwin Daniels School of Jewish Communal Service (SJCS) in Los Angeles will be offering a dual masters of arts degree program in Jewish Communal Service and Business Administration with the University of Southern California (USC) Marshall School of Business. "This is a milestone for the College-Institute since the program with our School of Jewish Communal Service and the Marshall School of Business is one of the first of its kind in the country. HUC-JIR students who opt to also earn an MBA at USC will be trained to be successful Jewish communal professionals having the opportunity to specialize in business management," said Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman.

Established in 1968 and the oldest existing program of its kind in Jewish communal service, the SJCS has educated more than 500 students from diverse Jewish affiliations and from all parts of North America as well as from Israel, South Africa, South America, Iran, France and Sweden. The SJCS trains students to serve in social service agencies, federation departments and agencies, and congregations. In addition to the dual masters program with USC in Jewish Communal Service and Business Administration, other masters degree programs offered with USC include Master of Social Work (MSW); Master of Public Administration (MPA); Master of Arts in Communications Management; and Master of Science of Gerontology (MSG). Additionally, the SJCS offers a single masters program in Jewish Communal Service (MAJCS), a joint masters degree program with the HUC-JIR Rhea Hirsch School of Education and a joint masters degree program in Judaic Studies with the HUC-JIR Edgar F. Magnin School of Graduate Studies. The SJCS also offers a certificate program for professionals already working in Jewish agencies or enrolled in graduate studies.

The School of Graduate Studies (SGS) now offers graduate students experience as Teaching Assistants in the Rabbinic School. The T.A.'s, who work under the supervision of the core course faculty, teach separate sections of courses, such as Bible and Modern Hebrew Literature. "The major function of the T.A. program is to give the students more personal attention in their Hebrew text courses, and help them acquire the more technical textual skills," noted Dr. Adam Kamesar, SGS Director. "It is wonderful to see how these graduate students contribute in such a concrete manner to the education of our rabbinic students." Laura Sheinkopf, a third year rabbinic student, spoke highly of Ting Wang, her graduate T.A. in Bible: "Having a T.A. gives the students a more interactive and informal learning experience, which is good for us, because we are training to become teachers as well as students of the text."

Kamesar anticipates that the program will attract highly desirable applicants who are interested in gaining some teaching experience as part of their graduate school education. Rabbinic students benefit from the supplementary teaching of Hebrew, and the faculty can then focus on the broader questions of interpretation and discussion during the regular core courses.

The opening of the 1998-99 academic year featured events which helped reshape the sense of community within the New York School. Orientation, newly revised, improved and ever more welcoming and comprehensive, reflected student input in the planning process. The first two days of classes were spent at the UAHC Kutz Camp, where over 120 faculty members and students shared their personal academic visions and their goals for strengthening the New York School community. In addition, a newly conceived collaborative course, "Thesis Research," involving all of the New York School's full-time faculty, began this past Fall. This course will provide fourth-year rabbinic students with enhanced resources in bibliography, methodology, faculty and library as they research and write their theses. The students' positive response is encouraging the exploration of a variety of other non-traditional courses to better exploit the specialized scholarship and expertise available on the East Coast. Ongoing projects based at the New York School, including Synagogue 2000 and Clergy 2000, also provide rich opportunities for broadening student learning.

HUC-JIR's Jerome H. Louchheim School of Judaic Studies is greatly expanding its course offerings due to greater demand from undergraduates at the University of Southern California (USC). Already one of the largest undergraduate Judaic Studies programs in the country, the Louchheim School has added eight new courses and recently hired two new full-time professors, Dr. Sharon Gillerman and Dr. Adam Rubin. "Our impact on USC is growing profoundly," said Dr. Reuven Firestone, Director of the Louchheim School.

The Louchheim School provides a bridge between 600 students at nearby USC and the extensive academic resources of HUC-JIR/LA, including fourteen members of the HUC-JIR faculty and the Frances-Henry Library. The Louchheim School has served as USC's sole program for Judaic Studies for over 20 years. Courses range from basic introductions to Judaism and the Holocaust to advanced courses such "Great Jewish Jurists" and a new course, "Women in Judaism." The Louchheim School has also created two new "minors" for USC students: a traditional Judaic Studies minor and a minor in Jewish-American Studies, which examines American Jewry as an ethnic group alongside African-Americans, Latino-Americans, and Asian-Americans.

Throughout the Irwin Daniels School of Jewish Communal Service's (SJCS) 30 year history, the place of Israel has been a significant component of the SJCS's curriculum. On December 24, graduate students accompanied Dr. Steven Windmueller, SJCS Director, to Israel as part of the School's 15th annual seminar. This three-and-a-half week experience, offered biannually as a part of the SJCS's course requirements, explored the key issues that impact Israel-Diaspora relations and introduced future communal professionals to the institutions and policy-makers central to the Israel experience.

This year the SJCS received several significant gifts designated to help underwrite the Israel Seminar and to launch an endowment effort to sustain this valuable learning experience. The SJCS was most fortunate to receive a lead gift of $50,000 from Peter Gold, a Los Angeles community leader and philanthropist. As an individual who is committed to strengthening higher education and promoting Diaspora-Israel partnership, Gold recognized the unique value of the SJCS's initiative to fund this project over the long-term. With the help of SJCS alumnus Peter H. Wells ('73), the SJCS received a generous grant of $30,000 from the Weprin Family's Dayton Federation Fund to substantially support this meaningful program.

When visiting Israel, Dr. Windmueller explained, "You are immediately struck by the tremendous changes that can be observed in the composition of this society, reflected in the growth of its population and the diversity of its citizenry. In its 50th year, Israel now must confront its national identity, defining the nature of religion and state, exploring avenues whereby Arabs and Jews can co-exist, and constructing a legal and political framework guaranteeing civil liberties. These issues play themselves out in daily interactions, not to mention the policy questions and judicial considerations that await a national consensus." He added, "The 'Americanization' of Israel poses new dilemmas and questions focusing on the image and character of this 'Zionist' nation. Every visit raises both new questions and poses different concerns regarding Israel's status, while at the same point, introducing for each of us new insights about this state and our sense of Jewish partnership."

The 1998 program was divided into three units of study -- Jewish Identity: Memory and Meaning, Competing Jewish Voices in Contemporary Israel, and Issues of Nationhood and Sovereignty. These issues were explored through formal presentations, field visits, student-initiated projects and research, and cultural activities. This year, for the first time, these future American communal professionals had the opportunity to meet, observe, and work with their professional counterparts from the Tel-Aviv municipality and from that city's emerging non-profit sector as part of the Los Angeles Jewish Federation's Tel-Aviv-Israel Partnership. In addition, the students visited with Israeli settlers in the territories and Palestinian representatives, and met with leaders of Israel's religious establishment, including spokespersons from Israel's growing Reform Movement.

Over the years, graduates of the Daniels School have affirmed the educational and inspirational value of this Israel experience for giving them a special sense of appreciation for their choice of careers and strengthening their commitment to Jewish life.