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Monday, March 3, 2003


[New York]…. Rabbi David Ellenson, President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, has announced the establishment of the Barbara and Stephen Friedman Chair in Liturgy, Worship, and Ritual at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. The Friedman Chair, created through the generosity of Barbara and Stephen Friedman, was inaugurated at Founders’ Day Ceremonies at HUC-JIR/New York on March 16, 2003. Dr. Lawrence A. Hoffman is the inaugural recipient of this new Chair. As the first of its kind at HUC-JIR, the Friedman Chair reflects HUC-JIR’s curricular commitment to revisioning Jewish faith, thought and practice by exploring new forms of liturgy, worship and ritual that are meaningful and inspirational for Jews today.

In announcing the Friedman Chair, Rabbi Ellenson noted, “We are grateful to Barbara and Stephen for their visionary philanthropy which will ensure that HUC-JIR provides cutting-edge training for clergy, educators, communal professionals, and scholars. By designating this chair in the area of Jewish liturgy, worship, and ritual, they and we recognize the important contribution of Rabbi Hoffman and Synagogue 2000, which he co-founded, in envisioning and implementing the synagogue “as the moral and spiritual center” for 21st century Jewry. As the Friedman Professor of Liturgy, Worship, and Ritual, Rabbi Hoffman will teach and inspire our students to build communities of learners and worshippers; they, in turn, will motivate congregations and their leadership toward Jewish spiritual renewal and help guarantee a vital Jewish future.”

Barbara Friedman, Treasurer of HUC-JIR’s Board of Governors, stated, “In establishing this new chair, we pay tribute to our esteemed friend and mentor, the new President of the College-Institute -- Rabbi David Ellenson – who has guided our journey in Jewish learning and activism. We feel particularly blessed to celebrate the first incumbent of this Chair, our beloved teacher and friend, Rabbi Lawrence Hoffman. Through our commitment to this new Chair, we are honored to advance the academic growth of the College-Institute, an institution of higher Jewish learning that we love.”

Dr. Lawrence A. Hoffman was ordained as a rabbi in 1969, received his Ph.D. in 1973, and has served since as Professor of Liturgy at HUC-JIR in New York. He directed HUC-JIR’s School of Sacred Music from 1984 to 1987. For over twenty years, he has combined research in Jewish ritual, worship, and spirituality with a passion for the spiritual renewal of American Judaism. Rabbi Hoffman is internationally recognized as a preeminent scholar in Jewish liturgy, ritual, worship and spirituality. A mentor to generations of students and teacher of distinguished North American Jewish lay leaders, he is the Co-founder and director of “Synagogue 2000,” a trans-denominational project envisioning and implementing innovations in 21st century synagogue life. He is the author or editor of over 20 books, including his most recently published book, The Journey Home: Discovering the Deep Spiritual Wisdom of Jewish Tradition (Beacon Press), Minhag Ami: My People’s Prayer Book (a multi-volume Siddur with pluralistic modern commentaries), Two Liturgical Traditions (an ongoing series on Christian and Jewish worship); Israel: A Spiritual Guide (a guide for modern Jewish pilgrims), a newly revised version of What is a Jew? (the most widely read introduction to Judaism), and The Art of Public Prayer (an indispensable, core resource for worship or ritual committees seeking to enrich congregational prayer). He is a regular columnist on Parshat Hashavua for The New York Jewish Week, the largest Jewish newspaper in North America, and past-president of North American Academy of Liturgy, the professional and academic organization for those who set national and international worship policy in most Christian and Jewish denominations. Dr. Hoffman was selected by the U.S. Navy in 1990, as part of three-person team, to develop a continuing education course on worship for Navy chaplains. He is a visiting professor at the University of Notre Dame.

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 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 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.