Rabbi Shirley Idelson Appointed Dean of HUC-JIR/New York

Monday, July 2, 2007

Rabbi David Ellenson, President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), has announced the appointment of Rabbi Shirley Idelson as Dean of the New York School. Starting July 1, 2007, Rabbi Idelson will be responsible for supervising all functions of the New York campus, spanning the academic, fiscal/administrative, development, operations, and community programs areas, and will represent the College-Institute in public venues of import. Rabbi Idelson currently serves as Director of the Rabbinical School and has been the Associate Dean on the New York campus since 2002. 

Rabbi Ellenson stated: "A distinguished rabbinical alumna, Rabbi Idelson brings extensive experience in academic leadership and strong mentorship skills that will strengthen our community of faculty, students, and staff and advance the College-Institute's mission as the spiritual, professional, and educational leadership center for the Reform Movement." 

Rabbi Idelson was ordained at HUC-JIR/New York in 1991. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from Dartmouth College (1985), earned a Master of Science from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism (1998), and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the History Program at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, where she is a Chancellor's Fellow and the Leon Levy Foundation Fellow. 

"I am greatly honored to serve as Dean of the New York campus," Rabbi Idelson stated, "and grateful for the opportunity to help sustain and develop the academic and religious community my colleagues and predecessors have built here. I am excited to work together with our faculty, staff and student body to further the mission of the College-Institute to transmit knowledge of our sacred tradition to the next generation, and to develop strong leadership for the Reform movement and the Jewish people." 

Rabbi Idelson's current areas of research include Justine Wise Polier (daughter of Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, who founded the Jewish Institute of Religion in 1922) and her work with the American Jewish Congress, as well as Judaism and the visual arts. Idelson has written and spoken on a wide range of subjects and, together with Rabbis Rebecca Alpert and Sue Levi Elwell, co-edited a book on the first generation of lesbian rabbis that was published in 2001 by Rutgers University Press. She currently serves on the board of Rabbis for Human Rights - North America, and on the Social Justice Committee of the Women's Rabbinic Network. 

Prior to joining the College-Institute administration, Rabbi Idelson served as Associate Chaplain at Carleton College in Northfield, MN and Associate for Jewish Life at Macalester College in St. Paul. As Director of Arts and Religion in the Twin Cities, working closely with The Minneapolis Institute of Arts and United Theological Seminary, she conducted a community-wide dialogue and grants program focused on the intersection of contemporary art and religion. 

Following her ordination in 1991 until her move to Minnesota in 1998, Rabbi Idelson served as Director of Religious Activities and Chaplaincy Services at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY. 


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