Honorary Degrees Awarded to Distinguished Leaders
of Reform Movement in Israel
Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman, President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, ordained two Israeli women rabbis for Israel's Progressive Movement at Ordination Ceremonies at HUC-JIR's Jerusalem School on March 11, 1999. Miri Gold and Ada Zavidov completed the Israel Rabbinic Program which trains Israeli students for the Reform rabbinate in Israel. HUC-JIR's Israel Rabbinic Program, established in 1975, has ordained twenty-two Israeli Reform rabbis to date, including four women rabbis. The first woman to be ordained a rabbi in the State of Israel was Rabbi Na'amah Kelman-Ezrachi, who was ordained at HUC-JIR in 1992.
Also ordained were Andrew Davids, an American rabbinic student who completed his studies at HUC-JIR's New York School. HUC-JIR educates men and women to serve as rabbis, cantors, educators, communal and educational professionals for the Reform Movement and the Jewish people throughout the world.
Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees were bestowed upon distinguished Israeli leaders: Professor Joseph Dan, disciple of Gershon Scholem and leading scholar of Jewish mysticism, who presented the Ordination Address (see www.huc.edu for the text of his address); Esther Herlitz, former member of Knesset and Israel Ambassador to Denmark and leading spokeswomen for women's issues in Israel; Rabbi Richard Hirsch, retiring head of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, which he has headed for over 30 years; Amnon Rubinstein, Member of Knesset, former journalist for Ha'aretz and former Dean of the Tel Aviv University Law School; and Rabbi Robert Samuels, head of the Leo Baeck Education Center in Haifa and leading Reform educator in Israel.
Honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees were awarded to: Rabbi Charles Emanuel, rabbinic leaders in London and Leeds, England; and Rabbi Ronald Kronish, long-time head of the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel which promotes Jewish-Christian-Muslim relations. Rabbi Michael Marmur, Dean of HUC-JIR's Jerusalem School noted, "The institutions of Reform in Israel are at an historic crossroads. For the first time in history, demand for our programs and personnel far outstrips supply. We intend to provide for the burgeoning leadership needs of a resurgent Israel Reform Movement."
HUC-JIR's Jerusalem School is in the forefront of cause of liberal Judaism and religious pluralism in Israel and contributes significantly to contemporary Israeli life. The growing strength of the Reform Movement in Israel is manifest by some statistics for this past year: approximately 100,000 Israelis attended weddings officiated by our Reform rabbis; 50,000 attended bar or bat mitzvah services at our Reform synagogues in Israel; and 10,000 attended Yom Kippur services at our Reform congregations here.
HUC-JIR's Jerusalem School is a center for the training of Israeli rabbinic leaders for the Israel Progressive Movement. Its programs, library and museum are resources for teacher training, communal leadership development, continuing education, and the Jerusalem community at-large. The Jerusalem School t provides the first year of training for state-side rabbinic, cantorial, and education students through HUC-JIR's Year-in-Israel Program. The Jerusalem campus serves as a center for education for thousands of North American Reform youths on summer and semester-long programs sponsored by the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.