Announcing the Inaugural Dianne Luboff Scholar-in-Residence at the HUC-JIR Cutter Colloquium

Friday, September 4, 2015

From left: Dr. Michael Zeldin, Senior National Director, Schools of Education, HUC-JIR, and Rabbi Peretz Wolf-Prusan, Senior Educator, Lehrhaus Judaica

"There is one recipe alone that can make a person Jewish...Our fathers had a beautiful word for it that says everything: confidence," so write Franz Rosenzweig in Towards a Renaissance of Jewish Living. With this quote, the biannual Cutter Colloquium for Rhea Hirsch School of Education (RHSOE) students began.  

Rabbi Peretz Wolf-Prusan, Senior Educator at Lehrhaus Judaica in Berkeley, CA, served as the inaugural Dianne Luboff Scholar-in-Residence at the Cutter Colloquium on August 27-28, 2015.  He used his considerable experience in teaching adults as well as teaching art and Hebrew calligraphy to expose HUC-JIR students and faculty to a different way of viewing their work.  By using autobiography, imagery, and even thinking about how text is arranged on a page, we are making educational decisions that have the potential to open adults to text, learning, and enhancing their "Jewish confidence."

"Coming out of the retreat as a new education student, I feel that I have become part of the unique culture of our School," reflected RHSOE student Benj Fried. "The fact that the faculty participated with the students in every aspect of the retreat, not as facilitators or educators, but as fellow learners, conveys that our whole community is working together with openness and humility to figure out the challenge of Jewish education.  We talked, we bonded, we laughed, and it was with particular joy that students and faculty stayed up past 10:30 PM on a Thursday night to play games over fondue."

Fried continued, "Rabbi Wolf-Prusan introduced us to new ways of thinking about adult education that will enrich our thinking about our teaching and make us more reflective about the process of bringing Judaism to adults.  An artist, Rabbi Wolf-Prusan presented Jewish artifacts few of us have encountered before, such as barrel vault synagogues, illuminated manuscripts, and Jewish frescos. Not only are these works of art aesthetically pleasing, but they contain as much textual content and insight as we could get from a usual text study.  Encountering these different media for Jewish education caused me to expand my thinking about what adult education could be.  Just because the learners are adults does not mean that they are not delighted by diversified learning modalities and media. They might get as much value from spending an hour doing Hebrew calligraphy or unpacking the imagery of a barrel vault synagogue as they would from a particularly meaningful text study."

Rabbis Paul Citrin, Karen Citrin, and Micah Citrin endowed this Scholar-in-Residence position in memory of Karen's mother, Dianne, who taught high school math for many years in various Boston area public schools.  As a teacher, she believed in having high expectations and thinking creatively to engage all kinds of students.  She raised her daughters with a love of learning and love of family. 

The Cutter Colloquium is named in honor of the founding Director of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education, Rabbi William Cutter, and is generously funded by the RHSOE Alumni Association. Dr. Cutter is the Steinberg Professor Emeritus of Human Relations at HUC-JIR, where he held the Paul and Trudy Steinberg Chair in Human Relations and was Professor of Modern Hebrew Literature and Education. He has taught at HUC-JIR since 1965 and has served in several administrative capacities throughout his academic career.

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.