Rabbi David Adelson Appointed Dean of the New York Campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Monday, April 18, 2016

Rabbi Aaron Panken, Ph.D., President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) has announced the appointment of Rabbi David Adelson as Dean of the New York Campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion as of July 1, 2016. The intersection of spirit, psyche, and justice work are at the heart of Rabbi Adelson’s personal and professional sense of calling and he has devoted his career to empowering others in their search for meaning in their lives through Jewish community.

Rabbi Adelson was ordained at HUC-JIR in 1999, trained and served as a hospital chaplain at New York Presbyterian Hospital for one year after his ordination, and has served since 2000 as the spiritual leader of East End Temple. He is a leader of the Reform Movement’s Just Congregations community organizing work and is a leader in Manhattan Together, a faith-based community organizing network.

Rabbi Panken said, “Rabbi Adelson has shown tremendous leadership, innovation, and creativity in congregational life. His continued studies at HUC-JIR evince a passion for learning and the academic life. His warmth, collaborative spirit, and welcoming and empowering outreach to others will make him a wonderful model for students and a tremendous leader for our growing NY campus in the years ahead.”

Rabbi Adelson has had a strong, ongoing commitment to the education of HUC-JIR’s students through his deep involvement with the HUC-JIR Spirituality Initiative since its inception in 2011.  As a Spiritual Director at HUC-JIR, he has guided rabbinical and cantorial students. As one of the three primary faculty members of Bekhol Levavkha, the program training Spiritual Directors, he is responsible for planning and leading monthly day-long retreats and annual three-day retreats as well as mentoring and support of participants.

“I have served as a mentor and counselor to HUC-JIR students for years, and I've heard in detail about their joys and struggles. I am humbled and excited to take on this new role to support their growth as passionate, inspired leaders of our people,” stated Rabbi Adelson.

At East End Temple, Rabbi Adelson doubled the congregation’s membership, implemented an experiential religious program for children that tripled attendance, and attracted younger generations while sustaining the empty-nest and founding generations. He introduced community organizing, cultivated lay leadership to spearhead justice campaigns, and piloted the Synaplex program to invigorate participation and enhance spirituality during Shabbat experiences. He co-created and piloted the Jewish Journey Project to integrate and enhance Hebrew language studies and strengthened the clergy/professional team with the addition of full-time cantor and educator positions.

Rabbi Adelson studied at Hebrew University and Brooklyn College, and received his B.A. from Oberlin College (1992). He received the M.A. in Hebrew Literature (1998) and ordination (1999) at HUC-JIR.  He completed a two-year rabbinic cohort of the Institute for Jewish spirituality. He will complete his Doctor of Ministry degree in pastoral counseling at HUC-JIR this May.

Rabbi Adelson succeeds Rabbi Shirley Idelson, Ph.D., who served as Dean for the past nine years.


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. www.huc.edu