Award winning director, composer, and writer Elizabeth Swados has been appointed to serve as this year's Rabbi Sally J. Priesand Visiting Professor of Jewish Women's Studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Ms. Swados will be in residence at HUC-JIR's Los Angeles campus from January 28-March 8 and will participate in many aspects of college life at HUC-JIR. She will also direct a production of one of her works, The Haggadah.
Ms. Swados has been writing music, theater works, and books professionally for almost 30 years. She has been nominated for Tony, Drama Desk, Ace, and Emmy awards. She has won several Obies, Outer Critics Circle Awards, a PEN Citation, and an Anne Frank National Foundation for Jewish Culture award.
Her Broadway credits include Runaways and Doonesbury. Her off-Broadway credits include Alice in Wonderland (with Meryl Streep), Dispatches, The Haggadah, Jerusalem, Rap Music Ronnie (with Gary Trudeau), and Missionaries. She has published three novels and two nonfiction books, and Milos Forman and Marlon Brando have optioned her works. She recently adapted her children's book Dreamtective into a script for Disney. Ms. Swados is in the process of creating a new musical piece called The Three Gods, working on another musical based on the book of Judith and a documentary film about women's obsession with their hair titled Haircut. Her new children's book Hey, You Come Here will be published shortly. She has taught at NYU and has conducted workshops at many colleges and regional theaters across the country and in forums in France, Israel, Africa and Brazil. Her CD, The Bible Women went in the NASA Space Shuttle as a choice of music for Astronaut Alan Hoffman.
The Rabbi Sally J. Priesand Visiting Professorship of Jewish Women's Studies was created in celebration of Rabbi Priesand and the contributions that women rabbis have made to Jewish life. Rabbi Priesand was ordained as the first woman rabbi in America in 1972. Since that time, 373 women have been ordained by HUC-JIR in the United States, and, since 1992, six Israeli women have been ordained at HUC-JIR's Jerusalem School to serve as rabbis for Israel's Progressive Movement. When the professorship was created, Rabbi Priesand stated, "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."
Distinguished women scholars who have served as the Rabbi Sally J. Priesand Visiting Professor are Marcia Falk (Spring 2001 at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati) and Tikva Frymer Kensky (Fall 1999 at HUC-JIR/New York. The Priesdand Visiting Professorship rotates among HUC-JIR's four centers of learning and next year's Priesand Visiting Professor will be at HUC-JIR's Jerusalem School.