Rabbi Richard S. Sarason, Ph.D., is the new Director of the School of Graduate Studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), as of July 1, 2015.
"Dr. Sarason is an exemplary scholar, teacher, and mentor," stated Rabbi Aaron D. Panken, Ph.D. "He brings to his new role at the School of Graduate Studies his extensive expertise in Rabbinics, Liturgy, History, Language and Literature, and Religions. His commitment to scholarship and publication will guide and inspire the students of all faiths pursuing our graduate programs."
The School of Graduate Studies (SGS) in Cincinnati has a long history of excellence in training scholars. Founded in 1947 by Rabbi Nelson Glueck, Ph.D., as an institution of higher learning for students of all faiths, the SGS has conferred more than 500 M.A., D.H.L., and Ph.D. degrees over the past six decades. The SGS offers individualized programs leading to the Ph.D. in Judaic and Cognate Studies, with specialization in Hebrew Bible, History of Biblical Interpretation, Jewish Studies in the Greco-Roman Period, Rabbinic Literature, Jewish Thought, and the American Jewish Experience; the M.A. in Jewish Studies; and the Doctor of Hebrew Letters. Dr. Sarason succeeds Dr. Nili Fox, Professor of Bible, who served with distinction as SGS Director since 2009.
Dr. Sarason is Professor of Rabbinic Literature and Thought and The Deutsch Family Professor of Rabbinics and Liturgy at HUC-JIR in Cincinnati, OH, where he has been a faculty member since 1979. Prior to that time, he was Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Brown University, where he received his Ph.D. in 1977. He was ordained at HUC-JIR in Cincinnati, in 1974. He received his A.B. in Economics from Brandeis University in 1969, and was a visiting graduate student at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem from 1970 to 1972, while attending HUC-JIR.
Dr. Sarason is the author of two books, A History of the Mishnaic Law of Agriculture: A Study of Tractate Demai (1979), and The Talmud of the Land of Israel: A Preliminary Translation and Explanation. Tractate Demai (1993), as well as numerous articles in the areas of classical rabbinic literature and thought (Mishnah, midrash, liturgy). He is the English translator (from the original Hebrew) of Joseph Heinemann, Prayer in the Talmud: Forms and Patterns (1977), and co-editor, with Jacob Neusner, of The Tosefta, translated from the Hebrew. First Division: Seder Zeraim. The Order of Agriculture. He served for the past fifteen years as Associate Editor of the Hebrew Union College Annual.
Dr. Sarason has taught at many Reform congregations around the country, and many programs of the Reform movement, among them URJ Summer Kallot, CCAR regional Kallot, Hadrachah Seminar for Lay Leadership, NATA certification program, Schindler Outreach Program, and Mifgash Musicale. He is vice-chair, for HUC-JIR, of the Reform Movement’s Joint Commission on Worship, Synagogue Music, and Religious Living. He was a member of the Siddur Editorial Advisory Committee that worked on Mishkan T’filah, the new Reform prayer book. He authored a popular commentary on that prayer book and on the new Reform Machzor, Mishkan HaNefesh, which appeared between May, 2008 and February, 2014 on the URJ’s Ten Minutes of Torah email-list and website. He is also an experienced choral musician with a strong interest in Jewish liturgical music.
He and his wife, Anne Arenstein, have two sons, Jonathan and Michael.