In the Wake of the 2016 Election

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A Message from Rabbi Aaron Panken, Ph.D.
President, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Wherever we each stand politically, it has surely been a surprising 24 hours in the United States. I think few of us could have anticipated the results of this stunning election just a few short days ago. For some, there is a sense of elation, hope and joy; while others greet this outcome with trepidation, despair, and fear.

In the midst of the overwhelming tectonic societal changes during the 1840s in France, author Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr is said to have coined the phrase “plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose,” known in English as “the more things change the more things stay the same.” Even amidst radical alterations of what we expect within our world, there is, somehow, an underlying continuity.

In a country in which we now need, more than anything, to come together, our goal must be to be steadfast in creating a visionary Jewish, communal, and intellectual leadership that can help us face the challenges ahead with knowledge, security, inspiration, and skill. We must continue to make our campuses beacons of respect, dialogue, and understanding, modeling for America and the world what community can be in its highest forms.

Since 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion has stood for the Jewish and human values that have helped form open and meaningful communities over the centuries: inclusiveness, egalitarianism, respect for each and every human being, and helping those in need, all in the service of making the world a better place.  Let us come together to ensure that this will always stay the same.


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