Cantor Bruce L. Ruben, Ph.D., has been appointed Director of the School of Sacred Music (SSM) at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) by Rabbi David Ellenson, President, beginning July 1, 2006. Cantor Ruben succeeds Cantor Israel Goldstein, who has headed the SSM since 1986.
"We are delighted to welcome Cantor Ruben as an accomplished scholar and cantor, and as a proven teacher and leader, who will serve as a visionary architect of the Reform cantorate of the future," stated Rabbi Ellenson. "We look forward to Cantor Ruben's leadership in encouraging excellence in all aspects of the School of Sacred Music's programs, as he mentors and guides our students to fulfilling careers of service to the Jewish People."
Cantor Ruben was awarded the Ph.D. in History by the City University of New York, Graduate Center in 1997. His dissertation, which explored "Max Lilienthal: Rabbi, Educator, and Reformer in Nineteenth-Century America," utilized the extensive documentary resources of the HUC-JIR's American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati. He has also pursued graduate studies in psychology and psychoanalysis at the New School for Social Research, Institute for Modern Pscyhoanalysis, and Mid-Manhattan Institute. He received the Bachelor of Sacred Music and Certificate of Hazzan the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York in 1981, where he received prizes in Composition and Hazzanut. As a student at the University of Indiana, he received the Master of Arts in Religious Studies (1977), with a thesis on "The Human Body as a Microcosm in Early Midrashim," and the Bachelor of Science in Music (1975). He has taught Jewish history courses at HUC-JIR and the history of Jewish music at The Julliard School. For the past fifteen years, he has served as an adjunct professor of history at Hunter College, where he has taught courses on World History, Modern Jewish History, and the Holocaust.
Since 1982, he has served as the Cantor of Temple Shaaray Tefila in New York City, where he has organized special music programs with professional and volunteer choirs, written as well as commissioned and premiered new works by leading composers, taught adult education courses on the history of Jewish music, history, and liturgy, and developed innovative services for increased congregational participation. He has fostered interfaith relations as a leader in the Yorkville Christian-Jewish Council, and has been active for many years in community activities at a neighborhood senior citizen center.
Cantor Ruben presented a major paper at HUC-JIR on "The History of the SSM" at the symposium marking its 50th anniversary in 1998 and has guest lectured at Cambridge University and the University of Virginia. His articles and study guides on American synagogue music, liturgy, Jewish life cycle, and American Reform Judaism have been published in the American Jewish Archives Journal and Reaching for Holiness: Study Guide for S'lichot and Yom Kippur (URJ, 2001). His musical compositions have been published by the URJ and ACC. His Baruch Haba, for mixed chorus and organ, was performed at the HUC-JIR Ordination and Investiture Service at Temple Emanu-El in 1989 and again in 2004 at Central Synagogue. He has performed in concerts of Jewish sacred, popular, and art music at the 92nd Street Y, Leo Baeck Institute, HUC-JIR, and on WNYC, and is an accomplished violinist in a piano trio.
As Director of the School of Sacred Music, Cantor Ruben will be responsible for the ongoing planning, administration, and coordination of all programs of the SSM, including faculty, budget, curriculum, and development of resources for the School. He will oversee cantorial students' learning and growth, from admissions and supervision of student pulpits, to teaching courses as well as coaching and counseling. Cantor Ruben will coordinate the first year in Israel for cantorial students, in coordination with the Jerusalem School faculty. He will represent the HUC-JIR administration and the SSM in the planning of music-related curricular and non-curricular activities of the College-Institute and be involved in the music programs on the Los Angeles and Cincinnati campuses. Cantor Ruben will also serve as spokesperson for the cantorate, Jewish music, and HUC-JIR and supervise SSM programs and activities for the larger community, including the Sacred Music Press, concerts, and conferences. He will work on an ongoing basis with the SSM Alumni Association and the SSM Advisory Council. He will also represent the College on the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) Joint Placement Commission, the URJ Joint Commission on Worship, Music and Religious Living, the Board of the American Conference of Cantors (ACC), and will serve as the co-chair of the Board of the Cantorial Certification program.
Cantor Ruben is a member of many professional organizations including the Association for Jewish Studies, the American Jewish History Society, the American Conference of Cantors (ACC), the Cantors Assembly of America, and the American Society for Jewish Music. He currently serves on the ACC Committee on Continuing Professional Development and has been a member of the URJ Task Force on Jewish Ethics and a delegate on the ARZA slate at the World Zionist Conference in Jerusalem. He served on the Editorial Committee for Shirei T'shuvah at the URJ.
Cantor Ruben and his wife, Judith Clurman, have a son, Ari.
Jean Bloch Rosensaft
Senior National Director for Public Affairs and Institutional Planning
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
One West 4th Street
New York, NY 10012