Cantor Bruce Ruben Honored for His Distinguished Leadership of the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music

Monday, April 13, 2015

Rabbi Shirley Idelson, Ph.D., Dean; Cantor Bruce Ruben, Ph.D., Director, Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music; Rabbi Aaron D. Panken, Ph.D., President

Cantor Bruce Ruben was honored for his distinguished leadership of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion's Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music, where he has served as Director since 2006, at services on April 13, 2015 in New York. Cantor Ruben's achievements have been and continue to be significant and far-ranging and thanks to his efforts and those of our faculty, the DFSSM has never been stronger.

Cantor Bruce Ruben shared some of the highlights of his nine years serving as Director of the DFSSM. Read his remarks>

Rabbi Shirley Idelson, Ph.D., Dean, stated, "Cantor Ruben has preserved the strength of our remarkable faculty, creating a wonderful balance of vatikim working alongside new teachers; he has led a complex revamping of the curriculum; he oversaw the creation of our Cantorial Certification Program, and his work with the Alumni Association and the American Conference of Cantors, as well as his fundraising efforts, have brought tremendous benefit to the Cantorial School and to the College-Institute as a whole.

Dean Idelson continued, "In my view, Cantor Ruben has achieved all this (and much more), thanks to the extraordinarily broad and deep professional skill set he has developed, and thanks, too, to the qualities of character, the midot one could say, that he has cultivated. He brings to his work the sensibility of a teacher, a scholar, a composer, and an artist. He has the capacity to think big, while at the same time attending to detail. He’s a chazzan who continues to train his beautiful voice, and to lend that voice to all he does—artistically, with intelligence and knowledge, with gentleness and humor, with love and concern for his students and colleagues, and always with integrity—and we all have been the beneficiaries.

Cantor Benjie Ellen Schiller, Professor of Cantorial Arts, stated, "Bruce, thank you. You have been our leader, our model of mentchlichkeit, our cantor’s cantor. May you continue to enlighten us through your teaching. May you continue to inspire us with that rich, magnificent baritone voice that touches the soul. "And may you continue to lead with binah (wisdom), chesed (lovingkindness), and with anivut (humility) from that limitless well of love and kindness within you."

Cantor Mark Kligman, who previously served as Professor of Jewish Musicology at HUC-JIR, sent a congratulatory message that was read by Cantor Schiller: "Bruce became the director of the DFSSM at a critical time during challenges for the cantorate and American Jewry.  The training of our HUC-JIR cantors was always in good hands with his care, compassion and concern.  He made sure that students were heard. He attended to many details to ensure not only that they got the best possible education but they were treated with respect and dignity.  Bruce also applied these traits to the faculty.  Overseeing a complex and developing curriculum, he found creative solutions to complex problems and made the faculty feel like they were part of the team. Bruce, I hope you will continue to give to others through music, through your teaching and through Judaism. In all that you have to share, in the kind and special way in which you do so, you will bring joy to us all."


Cantor Bruce Ruben earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music and a Master of Arts in Religious Studies from Indiana University. He subsequently attended the Cantorial School at The Jewish Theological Seminary and graduated with a Bachelor of Sacred Music and was ordained as cantor.

Cantor Ruben served Temple Shaaray Tefila in New York City for twenty-four years (1982-2006). During that time, he taught over 1500 B’nai Mitzvah, many adult education courses, led numerous choirs, commissioned liturgical music, and presented many special musical programs. While serving full-time, he also completed a Ph.D. in Jewish History and taught for over a decade in the History department at Hunter College.

As DFSSM Director, Cantor Ruben has overseen the creation of a new Core Curriculum to prepare students for the demands of the 21st century cantorate, worked to replenish the school’s remarkable faculty, developed a Leadership Fellows Program, and began a Distance Learning Certification Program for Cantorial Studies. He teaches history and Shabbat liturgy courses in the DFSSM and has taught history survey courses and Holocaust history in the rabbinical program.

Cantor Ruben will continue to serve as cantor at the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue and teach Jewish history at Hunter College.

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.