Rabbi Aaron Panken has announced the retirement of Richard A. Siegel as Director of the Zelikow School of Jewish Nonprofit Management (ZSJNM) of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles as of July 1, 2015. Siegel will be the graduation speaker and receive a Certificate of Recognition on Monday, May 18, 2015 at Temple Israel of Hollywood.
“Richard Siegel has laid a solid foundation for the future of the Zelikow School of Jewish Nonprofit Management. He anticipated changes in the Jewish nonprofit sector with its attendant need for visionary and highly educated leaders. By steering the Zelikow School through a renaming and rebranding process seven years ago, he demonstrated the importance of a nonprofit education, not only for Jewish professionals, but for a new generation of rabbis grappling with shifting institutional structures and congregations thirsty for original thinking,” said Rabbi Panken. “Through his leadership, the School received a $6 million gift, one of HUC-JIR’s largest gifts for a school, by ZSJNM Advisory Council member and former Chair, and current HUC-JIR Governor, Marcie Zelikow and her husband Howard. Their passion for the school and its mission will ensure a far-reaching education for our next generation of Jewish nonprofit leaders.”
Established in 1968 as the first American Jewish communal service graduate program, the ZSJNM continues to be one of the premier graduate schools educating nonprofit professionals today. Over the course of Siegel’s tenure, the Zelikow School has strengthened its base by maximizing the unique intellectual, academic, and professional resources of HUC-JIR, while also tapping into the second largest Jewish community in North America for extensive internships and mentoring opportunities. With new classes examining nonprofit management in the digital age, collaborative communication and branding and marketing, ZSJNM has embraced the complex needs of today’s nonprofit institutions. The Israel Seminar intensive, two years of internships and a thesis/capstone project involving original research, rounds out the in-depth curriculum necessary for inspired and effective leadership.
“Now more than ever, Jewish organizations, whether start-ups or legacy institutions, need business-savvy, Jewishly educated, and visionary professional leaders to help them address the enormous challenges facing the Jewish world and our highly interconnected society,” said Siegel.
The Zelikow’s support will help the ZSJNM extend its reach beyond HUC-JIR’s Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles. Plans are developing to offer cross campus courses, online learning, and hybrid educational models to enable rabbinical, cantorial, and education students in Cincinnati, New York, and Jerusalem to take ZSJNM courses and study with ZSJNM faculty. More ambitiously, the School is looking at offering training in nonprofit management for rabbis, cantors, educators, and communal professionals already in the field, such as an Executive M.A. in Jewish Nonprofit Management or continuing professional education certifications in fundraising, organizational change, synagogue management or social entrepreneurship.
For Marcie Zelikow, the future of Jewish leadership is always on her mind. “I have watched the School mature and grow under Richard’s leadership. Howard and I are very deliberate in our philanthropy and give thoughtful consideration to our allocations,” Zelikow explained. “We decided that we wanted to make a gift that would have a more profound impact on the future of Jewish organizational life by preparing the professional leaders for future generations. We feel that the only way in which congregations and Jewish agencies and institutions are guaranteed to thrive going forward is if they have well-trained leaders able to guide them.”
Richard Siegel was appointed Interim Director of the then HUC-JIR School of Jewish Communal Service in December 2007 and became Director of the newly renamed HUC-JIR School of Jewish Nonprofit Management in August 2010. He came to HUC-JIR with a distinguished background in Jewish communal service, arts administration and cultural entrepreneurship. The majority of his career was with the National Foundation for Jewish Culture where he worked for 28 years until June 2006, the last 16 years as Executive Director. Prior to that, he was the first Hillel Director at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where he founded the Long Island Jewish Arts Festival, which became the model for similar festivals around the country. His work at the foundation has been credited as putting the arts onto the agenda of the Jewish community. He initiated the Jewish Endowment for the Arts and Humanities to provide funding support for artists, scholars and cultural institutions, with programs such as the Fund for Jewish Documentary Filmmaking, the Fund for New Play Commissions in Jewish Theater, and the 6-Points Fellowships in the Arts. He also organized major national and international conferences and festivals in theater, dance, music, literature and visual arts, and produced several award winning National Public Radio programs.
Richard's master's thesis at Brandeis was "A Theoretical Construct for 'The Jewish Whole Earth Catalog,'" which he subsequently developed into The Jewish Catalog (JPS, 1973), the best selling guide to the Jewish counter-culture. His other books include The Jewish Almanac (Bantam Books, 1981) and The Writer in the Jewish Community: An Israel-North America Dialogue (Associated University Press, 1993). He has written numerous chapters and articles on aspects of contemporary Jewish culture, as well as several strategic plans and field studies, including "The Commission Report on the Future of Jewish Culture in America" (2002).
Among his awards and honors are the Bernard Reisman Award for Excellence in Jewish Communal Service from Brandeis University (2002) and the Jewish Cultural Achievement Award in Cultural Leadership from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture (2004).
Richard Siegel received an MA in Jewish History from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 1974. From Brandeis University, he received an MA in Contemporary Jewish Studies in 1972, and a BA in Politics in 1969.
Siegel has two children, Andrew and Ruth from a previous marriage, and two stepchildren, Joshua and Elana, with his wife, Rabbi Laura Geller, senior rabbi at Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills in Los Angeles.