New Director of HUC-JIR's Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation

Thursday, September 1, 2005

Dr. Lewis Barth, Dean of HUC-JIR/Los Angeles announces the appointment of Joel L. Kushner, Psy.D. as the first full-time Director of the Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation (IJSO) at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Dr. Kushner will direct the growth of the IJSO and the Jeff Herman Virtual Resource Center during the next stages of their development. 

He brings to this position a unique educational background and professional experience. Dr. Kushner has a 17-year history of dedication to counseling, training, and education and a passion for cultural issues and diversity. He has multiple graduate degrees in counseling and clinical psychology from Columbia University in New York and from Rutgers University in New Jersey. 

For the last nine years, Dr. Kushner has worked as a consultant to both profit and non- profit organizations as a behavioral healthcare consultant focusing on crisis management, performance, training, and policy development. 

Dr. Kushner has a lifelong interest in pastoral care developed originally from coursework at New College, University of Edinburgh, Scotland. He completed an extended unit in CPE at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City and continued in its on-call rotation for two more years as a lay chaplain. For eight years, Dr. Kushner co-led education bereavement groups for adults at St John's Medical Center in Santa Monica, CA. 

In the mid 1980s, Dr. Kushner volunteered for GMHC in New York, participated in several of the first AIDS education programs conducting outreach as well as led groups focused on education and behavior change. He also volunteered with the Deaf AIDS Project focusing on curriculum design to help bring information to a population that, at that time, had no access to AIDS education. In Los Angeles, Dr. Kushner served for three years on the Board of Directors of LAGPA, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Psychotherapy Association. 

Dr. Kushner and his partner David Wolff, M.D., have a 7-year old son.


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, 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