Ginny Ben-Ari, z"l - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
Skip to main content

Ginny Ben-Ari, z"l

Main Content
Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Board of Governors, Boards of Overseers, administration, faculty, students, and staff mourn the passing of Ginny Ben-Ari, z"l, on Tuesday, December 6, 2016. Ben-Ari served as the Director of Community Outreach at the Taube Family Campus in Jerusalem from 1982-2007.

"Ginny played a special role in the lives of countless students and graduates at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem. She served as an outstanding example of humanity, compassion, and community," said Rabbi Aaron Panken, Ph.D., President, HUC-JIR.

"Ginny was the welcoming face and arms of our campus in Jerusalem for decades. Her quiet and graceful presence was a much needed fixture at the doors of the Murstein Synagogue and campus. She served as the 'collective and institutional memory' for HUC-JIR/Jerusalem," said Rabbi Naamah Kelman, Dean, Taube Family Campus, HUC-JIR/Jerusalem.

Ginny Ben-Ari began her career with the Reform Movement as the Director of Youth Programs for the New York Federation of Reform Synagogues and the New York State Council of Reform Synagogues. From 1962 to 1968, she directed five NFTY regions, pre-teen youth work, and programs for college-age students and young adults. She arrived in Israel in 1968 to work with the NFTY Eisendrath International Exchange (EIE) half-year program for high school students, centered in Haifa and Tel Aviv. 

She moved to Jerusalem in 1969 to work at HUC-JIR's Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology, where she met her husband, Moshe, who assisted as conservator of HUC-JIR's Tel Gezer excavations while also associated with the Israel Museum. They married in New York in 1970, and she returned to Israel as a new immigrant on Purim 1971. Moshe trained her in pottery restoration and she worked with him on material from HUC-JIR's excavations at Tel Gazer, Lahav, Tel Dan, and Tel Aroer. At the same time, Dr. Ezra Spicehandler, then Dean, invited her to work on Shabbatot in the synagogue to welcome guests from Israel and abroad. 

Ben-Ari served as the Director of Community Outreach for the Jerusalem campus from 1982 through her retirement in 2007. Her many accomplishments and contributions to the vitality of HUC-JIR/Jerusalem included arranging programs for NFTY and university outreach and recruitment, which expanded to include HUC-JIR student summer interns; planning lectures and courses for the general community; and helping to establish HUC-JIR's synagogue as a "must" stop on Shabbat for congregational tours to Israel. Her ongoing contact with HUC-JIR alumni fostered the annual alumni reception and study seminar as a permanent addition to the campus's summer calendar. 

Ben-Ari's funeral will take place on Thursday, December 8 at 11:00 AM at the Sephardi Eulogy House at the Har HaMenuhot Cemetery in Givat Shaul, Jerusalem.

May Ginny's memory be a source of blessing.

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 leaders to serve 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, museums, 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.