Statement by President Ellenson on 2002-2003 Year-In-Israel Program - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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Statement by President Ellenson on 2002-2003 Year-In-Israel Program

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Monday, June 3, 2002


The following statement was issued by Dr. David Ellenson, President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), regarding the 2002-03 Year-in-Israel Program for first-year rabbinical, cantorial, and education students:

The 2002-03 HUC-JIR academic year will commence in Jerusalem with an orientation colloquium for 60 first-year students in our rabbinical, cantorial, and education programs on August 14, 2002. The summer semester will conclude on September 20th. The fall semester will then start on October 6th, and the academic year will conclude at the end of the spring semester in June, 2003.

An ideological commitment to Israel has animated and informed our institution's educational policy for over three decades. It is a policy that holds that the State of Israel occupies a central position in the life of the Jewish people and religion, and that all persons whom we educate for roles of leadership in the Jewish community must have an extended first-hand acquaintance with the reality of Jewish national rebirth as evidenced in the State today. We also affirm the centrality of peoplehood as crucial to any contemporary formulation of Jewish identity and regard mastery of Hebrew as an essential component of our educational agenda. In addition to these core principles, we are committed to the unity and integrity of our first year program. The Israel experience offers a unique opportunity for students due to return to three campuses and three professional tracks to come together at the start of their training. They meet on an equal footing, and the future of their relationship as colleagues and friends is forged in Jerusalem.

For all these reasons, HUC-JIR asserts that a significant Israel experience must be a integral part of the education we provide. HUC-JIR unequivocally regards the Year-in-Israel Program in Jerusalem as the normative program for all our entering students, and the Administration most strongly encourages all students accepted in our various schools to enroll for the forthcoming academic year in Jerusalem.

We also acknowledge that there are eight students who, for compelling reasons, are not able to fulfill the Israel requirement at this time. The College-Institute has made accommodations for their studies stateside. Those students not attending the Year-In-Israel program this year will do so in the future.

The Board of Governors of the College-Institute has approved a policy that affirms the centrality of Israel and Jewish peoplehood in the path that HUC-JIR offers in preparing persons for positions of Jewish leadership. The Board of Governors will hold its February 2003 meeting in Jerusalem as an expression of solidarity with Israel and with our students. In addition, senior members of the administration, staff and faculty will be visiting Israel throughout the year.

In times of crisis, such as this, we are forced to rely on our key values. In this case, we have sought to combine our faith in the State and People of Israel with our concern and sensitivity for individual men and women. Our students have responded to the decision we have made in ways that reflect their own key values, as well. In so doing, all of them bring honor to themselves and their people.

Rabbi David Ellenson

Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates leaders to serve 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 Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, museums, 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.