Wendy Zierler, Ph.D., Inaugurated as the Sigmund Falk Professor of Modern Jewish Literature and Feminist Studies at HUC-JIR/New York

Friday, March 20, 2015

From left: Rabbi Aaron D. Panken, Ph.D., President; Dr. Wendy Zierler; and Rabbi Shirley Idelson, Ph.D., Dean, HUC-JIR/New York

Wendy Zierler, Ph.D., was inaugurated as the Sigmund Falk Professor of Modern Jewish Literature and Feminist Studies at HUC-JIR/New York at New York Founders’ Day on Thursday, March 19, 2015. Dr. Zierler presented the Founders' Day Lecture: “Reading and Writing to Save Our Lives.” Rabbi Eugene B. Borowitz, Ph.D., previously served as the Sigmund L. Falk Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Education and Jewish Religious Thought.

"Dr. Wendy Zierler is an extraordinary teacher and scholar, whose multifaceted work reflects a rich variety of passions and interests," stated Rabbi Shirley Idelson, Ph.D., Dean. "She brings together rigorous scholarship with the writing of poetry and fiction, and as a postmodern feminist Jewish scholar and writer, she integrates critical analysis with the personal convictions of an artist and a deeply religious human being. We are most fortunate to have her on the New York faculty."

Upon her Inauguration as the Sigmund Falk Professor of Modern Jewish Literature and Feminist Studies, Dr. Wendy Zierler explained, "Dr. Eugene Borowitz is one of the luminaries of the Reform Movement and one of the most important Jewish thinkers of our time. When he first asked me to teach with him, I was both honored and petrified. Over the years of our teaching together, we watched our students grow intellectually and spiritually.  We shared happy and sad occasions. I myself grew and developed so much as a scholar and a parent in those 13 years. When my daughter Yona was nine, I shared with Gene some of Yona's questions about God and he chose to answer them in the form of a chapter in his book Touching the Sacred, which we gave to Yona as a surprise gift when she became a bat mitzvah. That was so meaningful. Everyone in my family knows how much I revere him, his integrity, brilliance, rigor, and his gorgeous writing style. When I heard that I was receiving his chair, I was overwhelmed and concerned on many different levels, as he is completely irreplaceable. It means so much to me that he and his family were there to participate in the ceremony yesterday. I feel like a link in a very strong and precious chain. 

"Everything about that event was breathtakingly beautiful. The service was stunning and meaningful. Our students are so talented and engaged. The introduction that Shirley Idelson gave to my talk was so moving to me, in that it showed how much she really knows me and appreciates what I have been striving to accomplish intellectually, artistically, and religiously. I am so grateful to my colleagues and students, and to HUC-JIR for the gifts it bestows upon me every day."

Dr. Wendy Zierler has served on the faculty of HUC-JIR since 2001. Prior to joining HUC-JIR, she was a Research Fellow in the English Department of the University of Hong Kong. At HUC-JIR, she serves as Head of the Hebrew Department and teaches courses on Modern Hebrew and American Jewish Literatures, Holocaust Literature, Literature of the Holidays, Reel Theology, and courses dealing with Gender and Judaism. Zierler received her Ph.D. and her M.A. from Princeton University, where she received Fulbright and Whiting Grants, and her B.A. from Yeshiva University, Stern College, where she was a Max Stern Scholar. She also studied at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Michelelet Bruria in Jerusalem. Dr. Zierler will receive her M.F.A. in Fiction Writing from Sarah Lawrence College in 2016.

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