A unique, seven-day intensive course in American Jewish History was taught at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion this past May (2016). Students from the school's three stateside campuses -- Cincinnati, New York, and Los Angeles -- were enrolled in this course, which included study time in Cincinnati, Ohio and Charleston, South Carolina. HUC-JIR rabbinical and graduate students took part in this class, which introduced them to a wide variety of historically significant documents that illuminated the early history of American Reform Judaism, primarily in Cincinnati and Charleston.
The course was developed by Dr. Gary P. Zola, Executive Director of the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of American Jewish Archives and the Edward M. Ackerman Family Distinguished Professor of the American Jewish Experience & Reform Jewish History at HUC-JIR, Cincinnati. "The course was designed to provide students with an in-depth familiarity of the early history of American Reform Judaism, particularly as it evolved in two important centers, Cincinnati and Charleston," explained Zola. "The students engaged in experiential learning through on-site study visits to a variety of historical sites in both Cincinnati and Charleston, and then chronicled an episode in the history of United States Jewry by submitting an original piece of research based on primary historical documents."
The course was also designed to expose students to a wide array of compelling primary source documents that illuminate the early history of American Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR/New York student Tobias Divack Moss, '17, observed that, "Participating in this seminar was one of the highlights of my HUC-JIR education thus far. It was refreshing and stimulating to combine classroom learning with visits to cemeteries, memorials, university archives, and, of course, the historic yet active synagogues. The most indelible moment of the program was one which showed an amazing synergy among primary source documents, historic sites, and a true moment of l'dor va'dor, from generation to generation."