HUC-JIR Alumni Celebrate "The Joy of Hebrew" in Jerusalem

Monday, July 6, 2015

Rabbi Naamah Kelman, Dean, HUC-JIR/Jerusalem, welcomes alumni, students, and friends to the 2015 alumni gathering, "The Joy of Hebrew"

HUC-JIR alumni participated in "The Joy of Hebrew," a Shabbat alumni gathering of prayer, study, and discussion, on July 4, 2015 at the Jerusalem campus of HUC-JIR. 

Rabbi Aaron D. Panken, Ph.D., President, began the day of learning with a conversation on "Why Hebrew Matters," which was followed by a tour de force lesson with Dr. Yossi Leshem on biblical grammar. The College-Institute bid farewell to two of the longest-serving teachers on campus: Dr. Yossi Leshem, who has taught Bible and Biblical Grammar at HUC-JIR for 35 years, and Sima Haruv, teacher of Biblical Grammar and Hebrew. Rabbi Panken offered a fitting and memorable tribute and participants were invited to share personal memories and tributes. 

HUC-JIR faculty led workshops devoted to different aspects of the Hebrew language:

  • Hebrew Writers Talk to God, From Brenner to Keret: Rivki Rosner, Year-In-Israel Hebrew Teacher
  • Hebrew for Teaching Jewish Values: Rabbi Ofek Meir, Director, Israeli Rabbinical Program
  • Beyond Yehuda Amichai, God and Jewish Sources in Contemporary Israeli Poetry: Professor Ruchama Weiss, Director, Blaustein Center
  • Ancient Texts in Contexts, The Story of the Hebrew Alphabet: Dr. Yifat Teherani, Senior Fellow at the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology
  • How Do You Say Tiyul? Touring Israel in Hebrew: Dganit Timor Jenshil, Director of Community Relations

Rabbi Alan Litwak, Chair of the Alumni Council, addressing the Alumni Gathering

The alumni gathering concluded with Seuda Sh'lishit and a rousing Havdallah service led by nine first-year Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music cantorial students. The day of learning was attended by about 120 participants. 

"Saturday’s program featured a wonderful gathering of alumni, students finishing their Year-In-Israel, and new students about to begin our program for 2015-16," remarked Rabbi Panken. "As we celebrated the retirement of our beloved professor, Dr. Yossi Leshem, we were treated to a shiur on biblical grammar in his inimitable style. Generations of Yossi’s students shared in the evening, and all of us were moved by his erudite talk, his emotional words, and the amazing teacher and mensch he has always been. It was an extraordinary celebration of what we do best at the College-Institute: bring together talented teachers to help our students and alumni learn and grow."

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.