Dr. Michael Zeldin Alumni-in-Residence Program Established to Honor Visionary Educator

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Dr. Michael Zeldin, immediate past Senior National Director of the School of Education at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), has had an outstanding career with a significant impact on the trajectory of Jewish education in North America.  To recognize Dr. Zeldin’s impact on our students, alumni, and their sacred profession, the School of Education Alumni Association created the Dr. Michael Zeldin Alumni-in-Residence Program Endowment Campaign. The Dr. Michael Zeldin Alumni-in-Residence Program honors Dr. Zeldin by bringing learning from the field directly into HUC-JIR’s education programs, recognizing alumni who are doing exceptional work, and inspiring students for generations to come. 

Rabbi Aaron Panken, Ph.D., HUC-JIR President, stated, “Dr. Zeldin is a teacher and mentor to generations of educators and a leading scholar in the field. This wonderful new program sustains his impact and the excellence of our renowned School of Education.”

The Alumni-in-Residence Program engages one of our distinguished School of Education alumni to spend two-and-a-half days with our students, sharing his or her professional wisdom from the field. The alumnus guest teaches in several courses, delivers a d’var Torah in tefillah, leads a lunch and learn, and spends one-on-one time with students and faculty. While this has historically been a program of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education, the new Dr. Michael Zeldin Alumni-in-Residence Program will be designed with opportunities for remote participation by students in the New York School of Education and Executive M.A. Program in Jewish Education.

Dr. Miriam Heller Stern, National Director of the School of Education, said, “The Alumni-in-Residence is positioned to share his or her life experience with students at a critical moment in their professionalization when they are clarifying their aspirations and charting their careers.”

The successful Dr. Michael Zeldin Alumni-in-Residence Program Endowment Campaign concluded in July 2017. The endowment is a gift of HUC-JIR School of Education alumni, consisting of graduates from the Rhea Hirsch School of Education, the New York School of Education, and the Executive M.A. Program in Jewish Education. Individual gifts from 165 donors totaled over $100,000 and, thanks to a generous dollar-for-dollar matching gift from Susan Kittner Huntting MAJE/MAJCS ’80 and Rabbi Geoffrey Huntting ’91, these gifts were matched and the campaign raised over $200,000.

The Hunttings chose to offer this matching gift because of their mutual gratitude for HUC-JIR and Dr. Zeldin. “Oddly enough, my path didn't cross Michael's while I was a student,” shares Susan. “Nonetheless, I have learned much from him through our work together on multiple projects since then and it is an honor for us to be able to acknowledge someone who is among the greatest minds and hearts of the College-Institute.” Geoff adds, “Michael taught me how to be a Jewish teacher. Now, on the other side of retirement, I can say it all began with him.”

Mindy Davids MAJE/MAJCS ’90, Rachel Margolis MAJE/MAJCS ’07, and Vicki Weber MARE ’15 served as the Dr. Michael Zeldin Alumni-in-Residence Program Endowment Campaign Co-Chairs.

Davids,Director of Congregational Learning and Engagement at Temple Shaaray Tefila in New York City, said, “It was a great honor to serve as Co-Chair of the Dr. Michael Zeldin Alumni-in-Residence Program Endowment Campaign Committee.  Both Michael and the Alumni-in-Residence program are near and dear to my heart. Michael's teaching, both while in school and in the many years that have followed, have profoundly influenced my work as a Jewish educator. And, as a past Alum-in-Residence, I know that ensuring the future of the program will continue to significantly enrich the student experience. I am thrilled that we can honor him in this way.”

Dr. Michael Zeldin Alumni-in-Residence Program Endowment Committee Members included Bradley Cohen MAJE ’10, Lisa Langer MAJE/MAJCS ’94, Ellen Lefkowitz MAJE/MAJCS ’99, Cynthia Reich MAJE ’84, Julie Vanek MAJE/MAJCS ’88, and Joy Wasserman MAJE ’81.

Margolis, who also serves as Co-Chair of the School of Education Alumni Association, said, “This campaign, which is a combined effort from all our School of Education alumni, not only honors our teacher and mentor, Dr. Michael Zeldin, but shows the power of our community. Our alumni are deeply dedicated to the school, its teachers, and ensuring student access to our incredible alumni community.”

Dr. Stern added, “One of the unique strengths of HUC-JIR’s M.A. programs in education is the leadership and dedication of our talented alumni. Their commitment in mobilizing to pay it forward and advance the professional learning of the next generation is truly remarkable. It is a testament to the care and rigor that Dr. Michael Zeldin brought to their experiences at HUC-JIR that motivates them to continue to give back.”

Dr. Michael Zeldin stepped down from his position as Senior National Director in June 2016 and continues to serve the College-Institute as Professor of Jewish Education at the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at the Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles.

If you’d like to make a gift to the Dr. Michael Zeldin Alumni-in-Residence Program Endowment Campaign, please click here.


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