New President Named by Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion

Friday, June 1, 2001

Dr. David Ellenson to Serve as 8th President of
Reform Judaism's College-Institute, Founded in 1875

New York - The Board of Governors of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) has unanimously chosen Dr. David Ellenson to serve as its new President. The announcement was made by Burton Lehman, Chair of HUC-JIR's Board of Governors.

 

As President, Dr. Ellenson will serve as the Chief Executive Officer of the College-Institute - the four-campus, international university which is the academic and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR's centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles and New York provide the academic and professional training programs for the Reform Movement's rabbis, cantors, educators, and communal service professionals, and offer graduate programs for scholars of all faiths.

Dr. Ellenson, who was ordained at HUC-JIR in 1977, is the 8th President in its 125 year-long history, and will succeed Dr. Norman J. Cohen, Acting President and Provost.

"We are proud that Dr. Ellenson has accepted our invitation and look forward to his presidency with great enthusiasm," stated Mr. Lehman. "Dr. Ellenson is a distinguished rabbi and scholar, dedicated teacher, and committed leader of the Reform Movement. Associated with HUC-JIR for nearly 30 years, Dr. Ellenson is a beloved teacher and mentor to generations of HUC-JIR students. He is internationally recognized for his publications and research in the area of Jewish religious thought, ethics, and modern Jewish history. His exemplary leadership and passionate commitment to Reform Judaism and the Jewish people worldwide will inspire HUC-JIR's growth in the 21st century. In selecting this eminent rabbi and scholar as President for this institution, we are proud to demonstrate the excellence of HUC-JIR's intellectual and religious mission."

"I am greatly honored to be called to serve as the President of HUC-JIR and pledge to advance the definition and fulfillment of its sacred mission. The College-Institute is a precious intellectual and religious resource for the ongoing life of the Reform Movement and the Jewish people. I hope to inspire others to aid in the cooperative task of building and sustaining this institution as a source for good and blessing in the world," stated Dr. Ellenson.

Dr. Ellenson is the I.H. and Anna Grancell Professor of Jewish Religious Thought at HUC-JIR in Los Angeles. A member of HUC-JIR's faculty since 1979, he has served as Lecturer, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor of Jewish Religious Thought. From 1981-1997, he also held the post of Director of the Jerome H. Louchheim School of Judaic Studies.

Dr. Ellenson received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1981 and was ordained a rabbi at HUC-JIR's New York School in 1977. He holds masters degrees from Columbia, HUC-JIR, and the University of Virginia. He received his bachelors degree from the College of William and Mary in Virginia in 1969.

Dr. Ellenson is a Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute of Jerusalem and Fellow and Lecturer in the Institute of Advanced Studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem (1999 to present). He has served as Visiting Professor of History at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, Lady Davis Visiting Professor of Humanities in the Department of Jewish Thought at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and Visiting Professor in the Center for Jewish Studies and a member of the Near Eastern Languages and Cultures Department at the University of California, Los Angeles (1986-97). He has also been the Blaustein Scholar at the Jerusalem Pardes Institute for Jewish Studies and regularly serves as a faculty member of the Wexner Heritage Foundation.

Dr. Ellenson has published and lectured extensively on diverse topics in modern Jewish history, ethics, and thought. He is the author of Tradition in Transition: Orthodoxy, Halakhah and the Boundaries of Modern Jewish Identity (1989), Rabbi Esriel Hildesheimer and the Creation of a Modern Jewish Orthodoxy(1990) (nominated for the National Jewish Book Council's Award for outstanding book in Jewish History, 1990), and "Between Tradition and Culture: The Dialectics of Jewish Religion and Identity in the Modern World (1994). He is also at work on another book-length collection of his essays and The Way Into the Varieties of Jewishness (Jewish Lights).

His work describes the writings of Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, and Reconstructionist leaders in Europe, the United States, and Israel during the last two centuries and employs a sociological approach to illuminate the history and development of modern Jewish religious denominationalism. His application of this method has allowed him to emphasize the interplay between Jewish religious tradition and modern society in unique ways, and has prompted him to write and lecture on topics ranging from early Reform and Orthodoxy in 19th century Germany and conversion to Judaism at the beginning of the 1900s to the problems of medical ethics in present-day America.

Along with Dr. Stanley Chyet, Dr. Ellenson co-edited Bits of Honey: Essays for Samson H. Levey (1993), and is the author of the commentary entitled "How the Modern Prayerbook Evolved" in the acclaimed Five Volume Series on the Jewish Prayerbook, Minhag Ami My People's Prayerbook edited by Dr. Lawrence Hoffman. He is currently completing a book tentatively entitled, "For the Sake of Heaven": Conversion, Identity, and the Politics of Modern Jewish Orthodoxy, co-authored with Daniel Gordis. He is also at work on another book-length collection of his essays.

He has written over 150 articles and reviews in diverse academic and religious journals and books, including The Hebrew Union College Annual, The Journal of American Academy of Religion, Religious Studies Review, The Year Book of the Leo Baeck Institute, Journal of Religion, Modern Judaism, The Jewish Book Annual, The CCAR Journal, Conservative Judaism, The Reconstructionist, and Tradition. His academic lectures have been delivered at such institutions as Charles University in Prague, Ben Gurion and Bar Ilan Universities in Israel, Haverford College, Harvard, Yale, Brown, and the Jewish Theological Seminary.

Dr. Ellenson is a member of several professional and academic societies, including the Association for Jewish Studies, the American Academy of Religion, the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, the Southern California Board of Rabbis, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis. He has served as a pulpit rabbi in Port Washington, New York, and Keene, New Hampshire, and has worked at several summer camps of the Reform and Conservative movements.

Born in Brookline, Mass., in 1947, Dr. Ellenson was raised in Newport News, Virginia. He is married to Rabbi Jacqueline Koch Ellenson, ordained at HUC-JIR in New York in 1983 and Chaplain at the Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles. They are the parents of Ruth (married to Robert Guffey-Ellenson), Micah, Hannah, Naomi, and Raphael.

Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is the nation's oldest institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and communal service professionals, and offers graduate and post-graduate degree programs to scholars of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise renowned library, archive and museum collections, biblical archaeology excavations, and academic publications. HUC-JIR invites the community to an array of cultural and educational programs which illuminate Jewish history, identity, and contemporary creativity and which foster interfaith and multiethnic understanding.

 

 

 


Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's first institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu