In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the ordination of Rabbi Sally J. Priesand, the first woman rabbi in America, Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman, President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) has announced a joint fund-raising effort with The Women's Rabbinic Network (WRN) to raise a minimum of $500,000 to endow the Rabbi Sally J. Priesand Visiting Professorship of Jewish Women's Studies: In Honor of Twenty-five Years of Women in the Rabbinate.
"At this historic moment, we rejoice in the contribution that all our women colleagues have made to Jewish life, to our people, and to our understanding of God's covenant with our people," stated Rabbi Zimmerman. "This professorship will add significantly to our knowledge and appreciation of women's contributions and will also further the work of Jewish women in our religious and communal lives."
The Women's Rabbinic Network is the professional organization of women rabbis ordained by HUC-JIR. Rabbis Rosalind A. Gold and Marcia A. Zimmerman are co-chairs of the WRN Professorship Campaign. In a statement for the WRN, they indicated, "This Visiting Professorship will honor our friend and role model, Sally Priesand, and the women who have come after her. We celebrate the work of all of the more than 300 women who have made history through their rabbinic ordination."
The creation of a Visiting Professorship in Jewish Women's Studies will enable HUC-JIR to have a noted academician or colleague spend a semester or year on each of the College-Institute's stateside campuses. This academician would possess the expertise and background to teach several courses in a variety of departments, including History and Philosophy/Theology. In addition, this professor will serve as a mentor and guide to the women HUC-JIR trains as future leaders. By rotating this chair among the HUC-JIR stateside campuses, each generation of students will have the opportunity to be exposed in a very direct way to a powerful academic and personal model.
Rabbi Sally J. Priesand was ordained as the first woman rabbi in America in 1972. Since that time, 254 women have been ordained by HUC-JIR in the United States, and, since 1992, two Israeli women have been ordained at HUC-JIR's Jerusalem School to serve as rabbis for Israel's Progressive Movement. According to Rabbi Priesand, "I am honored by this effort to create a Visiting Professorship at the College-Institute as I celebrate this important anniversary in my life and in the life of the Reform Movement. Students at HUC-JIR, who are the future leaders of our Movement, must be given the opportunity to hear the voices of women as well as men. They must embrace the experiences of all Jews in the spirit of equality, knowing that every human being is a piece of priceless mosaic in the design of God's universe. This Visiting Professorship of Jewish Women's Studies will allow future generations to draw upon the breadth of women's knowledge and experience."
For more information about the Rabbi Sally J. Priesand Visiting Professorship of Jewish Women's Studies: In Honor of Twenty-Five Years of Women in the Rabbinate, please contact: John S. Borden, Vice President of Planning and Development at 212-824-2212.