Dr. Lawrence A. Hoffman, Professor of Liturgy, has been appointed Assistant to the President for Special Projects by Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman, President, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. In announcing his appointment, Rabbi Zimmerman stated, "Hoffman's vision, creative scholarship, and groundbreaking work in so many areas will help us move forward to even greater accomplishments, particularly in our work in spirituality and worship, synagogue, and clergy transformation."
Born in Canada, Hoffman received his bachelor of arts from the University of Toronto. He was ordained as a rabbi in 1969 and received his Ph.D. in 1973 from the College-Institute. From 1984-1987, he was Director of its School of Sacred Music. For more than 20 years, Hoffman has combined research in Jewish ritual, worship, and spirituality with a passion for the spiritual renewal of American Judaism. He has served for 22 years as Professor of Liturgy at HUC-JIR.
Hoffman is the author or editor of 11 books, including The Art of Public Prayer: Not for Clergy Only (Washington: Pastoral Press, 1988), now used nationally by Christians and Jews as a handbook for liturgical planners in church and synagogue; and a revision of What is a Jew? the best-selling introduction to Judaism that has sold over 400,000 volumes since its inception and remains the most widely read introduction to Judaism ever written in any language. He is co-editor of Two Liturgical Traditions, an ongoing series dealing with Christian and Jewish worship, historically and today. His articles, both scholarly and popular, have appeared in eight languages, and he syndicates a regular column in Jewish newspapers, including The Jewish Week, the largest Jewish newspaper in North America.
His latest and most-significant venture to date is SYNAGOGUE 2000, a transdenominational project designed to envision and implement the ideal synagogue of the spirit for the 21st century.
Hoffman is a board member of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and a past- president of the North American Academy of Liturgy. In 1990, he was selected by the United States Navy as a member of a three-person design team, charged with developing the year's continuing education course on worship for Navy chaplains. He travels widely, lecturing on worship, spirituality, and Jewish identity to popular and university audiences, including such events as an interfaith service compiled for Houston's Rothko Chapel, a weekend dialogue with Christians and Muslims on liturgical technology at Dallas' Thanksgiving Square, and several summers spent teaching at the University of Notre Dame.