Barbara Benioff Friedman Elected Chair of the Board of Governors of HUC-JIR

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

First Woman to Head Board of Seminary for the Reform Movement of Judaism 

Rabbi David Ellenson, President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), welcomed Barbara Benioff Friedman as the first woman to lead HUC-JIR's Board of Governors in its 131-year-long history at their meeting in Cincinnati on November 20, 2006. Friedman succeeds Burton Lehman, who has headed the Board of Governors for a decade, on January 1, 2007. 

"As the institution that ordained the first woman rabbi in America, the seminary for the Reform Movement that has advanced egalitarian rights in Jewish life and practice, and the largest women's Jewish studies faculty outside of Israel, we take pride in this historic milestone," stated Rabbi Ellenson. "Barbara Friedman's distinguished civic and Jewish communal leadership is a source of guidance and support for our mission - the vitalization of Jewish life in our own time." 

Barbara Friedman joined the HUC-JIR Board of Governors in 1993, where she has served as Vice Chair, Chair of the Nominating Committee, Chair of the Student Welfare Committee, and a member of the Pension and Benefits and Budget Committees. She is co-chair of the Strategic Planning Committee and of its Implementation Committee. 

In 2003, she and her husband, Stephen Friedman, endowed the Barbara and Stephen Friedman Chair in Liturgy, Worship, and Ritual at HUC-JIR to honor its inaugural recipient, Dr. Lawrence A. Hoffman, and his contribution in envisioning the synagogue as the moral and spiritual center for 21st-century Jewry. As the first of its kind at HUC-JIR, the Friedman Chair reflects the College-Institute's 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. 

"We have a responsibility for the future of the Jewish people," stated Barbara Friedman. "In this changing world, HUC-JIR plays an indispensable role by educating liberal professional and spiritual leaders who can transform communities, engage the next generations, and ensure the vitality of our values and heritage. I look forward to working with HUC-JIR's extraordinary President David Ellenson, the administration, faculty, and Board members in strengthening HUC-JIR's academic excellence and financial sustainability." 

Barbara Benioff Friedman received the B.A. from the College of Arts and Sciences in 1959 at Cornell University, where she is a Trustee Emerita. She is Vice Chair of the Board of Overseers of the Weill Medical College of Cornell University, Honorary Chair of the Jewish Braille Institute, and Past Chair of CLAL. She has served on the Boards of the Settlement Housing Fund, Jewish Outreach Institute, and Central Synagogue, and was a leader of UJA-Federation of New York, where she chaired the Distribution Committee and Public Policy Committee, and served on the Domestic Cabinet, UJA-Federation Board, and Strategic Planning Committees, and has been involved with the Women's Campaign for over twenty-five years. She has taught in the New York City public school system in Harlem when she was first married. 

Barbara and Stephen Friedman are the parents of Suzy and David Cohen, Caroline and David Levy and Amanda and David Friedman, and the grandparents of Tea' and Evelina Levy and Sam and Zeke Cohen. 


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