Schusterman Family Foundation Announces Fellowship Program for JTS, HUC-JIR Rabbinical Students

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Tulsa, Oklahoma, May 4, 2007 - Lynn Schusterman, chair of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation (CLSFF) announced today the Hevruta Fellowship, a five-year interdenominational pilot program for rabbinical students studying at Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) and The Rabbinical School of The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS). 

In addition to their regular coursework, Hevruta Fellows will study together in regular meetings and retreats facilitated by faculty from both seminaries as well as educators from STAR (Synagogues: Transformation and Renewal) and the Center for Leadership Initiatives, Inc. (CLI). The fellowship will provide rabbinical students the opportunity to collaborate, study together, and build leadership skills in a context of the shared values of the Reform and Conservative movements in Judaism. 

Some of the major focus areas of the fellowship will be: general leadership skills; excellence in strategic planning and administration; new ways to counsel congregants in areas of acceptance and diversity among mixed faith families; and interdisciplinary and interdenominational approaches to rabbinical curricula. 

"Rabbis have a unique opportunity to transform the lives of their congregants and, with the right kind of leadership training, reach in more deeply and out to the broader community to address the issues of diversity and inclusion in new and proactive ways," said Lynn Schusterman, who announced the creation of the program yesterday afternoon at HUC-JIR's graduation ceremony, held at Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York. 

This is the first time JTS and HUC-JIR rabbinical students will be involved in a sustained, collaborative educational program. 

Starting in the fall of 2007, eight outstanding students (four from HUC-JIR and four from JTS) will be admitted to the program for each year of the five-year pilot phase of the project. 

Rabbi David Ellenson, president of HUC-JIR, said, "I am grateful to the Schusterman Foundation for its vision in initiating this fellowship. This program models the kind of cooperation that can and ought to mark American Jewish life. Ours will be a partnership that respects denominational differences, while also recognizing that the American Jewish community faces a common set of challenges and requires transformational rabbinical leaders who will revitalize contemporary Jewish life." Founded in 1875, HUC has 2828 rabbinical alumni, 241 rabbinical students enrolled in its Rabbinical School on its four campuses, and an additional 24 Israeli rabbinical students enrolled in its Israeli Rabbinical Program in Jerusalem. 

"The connections our students will make with their fellow students at HUC-JIR, and the deepening ties between our two institutions, bode well for the future of the American Jewish community," said Professor Arnold M. Eisen, Chancellor-elect of JTS. Since its founding in 1886, JTS has ordained 1,774 rabbis. There are currently 140 students enrolled in The Rabbinical School, which expects to ordain 18 new rabbis later this month. 

The Hevruta Fellowship will cover the tuition costs and provide an annual cost of living stipend for all participants for their third and fourth years of rabbinic studies; afterwards, participants will receive ongoing support as they search for employment and the opportunity to join the STAR network of rabbis. 

The total budget for the Hevruta Fellowship is approximately $2.5 million, a sum the Schusterman Family Foundation will pay out over the five years of the program. 


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