Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D., President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) has announced the appointment of Dr. Meir Seidler as HUC-JIR's first Visiting Professor of Israel Studies. Dr. Seidler is a joint appointment by HUC-JIR/Los Angeles with the University of Southern California (USC), for the 2008-2009 academic year, to be followed in 2009-2010 with an additional joint appointment by HUC-JIR/New York with the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS) in New York. These visiting faculty positions have been made possible by a grant from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation in conjunction with the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprises' Scholar Development Fund. HUC-JIR's matching grant for this project has been generously funded by Lief Rosenblatt and Elliott and Robin Broidy.
Rabbi Ellenson stated, "Israel Studies lies at the heart of our mission, as we seek to train Jewish leaders who are steeped in the concept of Jewish peoplehood and nurtured by the enduring ties linking the State of Israel and Diaspora Jewry. As a leading Israeli scholar, Dr. Meir Seidler will not only share his scholarship and research through teaching but will help to further reinforce our students' relationship with the people and land of Israel, building upon their required first year of study of the history, politics, and culture of Israel and intensive Hebrew language studies at our Jerusalem campus."
Dr. Norman J. Cohen, Provost, said "What makes these appointments unique is that they are shaped as joint appointments with JTS in New York and USC in Los Angeles, thereby emphasizing our shared commitment to expanding our offerings in the study of modern Israel and enhancing our students' knowledge and ability to teach about Israel in an effective manner. This program will enable us to bring outstanding Israeli academics to our campuses each year, ensuring that our students engage in a vibrant, ongoing dialogue about Israel and its role in Jewish life, both within our HUC-JIR community and across institutional lines."
These two appointments are among the 20 Israeli scholars that the Schusterman Foundation will place annually at universities throughout the United States, reflecting the significance of HUC-JIR and the Reform Movement to the future of the Jewish community. A diverse group of scholars will be Visiting Faculty in Israel Studies at HUC-JIR over the next five years, with the goal of ultimately establishing a full Israel Studies program.
Dr. Meir Seidler's area of academic specialization is Jewish Thought in the Modern Era. He received a M.A. in Comparative Religion from Philipps university in Marburg, Germany, and a Ph.D. in Jewish Philosophy from Bar-Ilan University in Israel, where his doctoral dissertation was titled "The Concept of Judaism as a 'Religion of Law': Spinoza, Mendelssohn, Samson Raphael Hirsch and Isaac Breur." Dr. Seidler has taught at Ariel University Center in Samaria in the Department of Israel Heritage and at Bar-Ilan University's Centre of Jewish Studies. His extensive publications include numerous articles and two books: Shma Yisrael- Oneness. The Jewish Perspective, and A Controversy that Endures. The Secession Controversy (1877) - The Open Letters Correspondence between the Rabbis Samson Raphael Hirsch and Seligmann Baer Bamberger. He served as co-editor of Moreshet Israel - Journal of Judaism and Zionism (2004-2007), and has presented academic papers at Bar-Ilan University's conference on "The Ethical Debate following the Nuremberg Trials (1945-1946) and Nuremberg Codex (1947), the International Conference of Jewish Law, Conference of "Tora U'Mada," Conference of Judea-Samaria Research, and the First Conference on the Book of Psalms.