Student Spotlight: Meet Pines School of Graduate Studies Student Chelsea Simon

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Chelsea Simon is a third-year Ph.D. student with the Pines School of Graduate Studies. She began her academic journey with a Masters in Divinity earned in Kansas City.

She writes:

Fulfilling a middle school dream, I moved to Cincinnati from New York in 2015 to pursue a Ph.D. in Second Temple Jewish History at HUC-JIR. This is a "second career" - a welcome change from several years spent in the finance and investment sector.

My interfaith background and family provided my unique perspective and range of knowledge in religion and spirituality. Navigating the 2008 financial crisis allowed me to affirm my interest in researching the Jewish-Christian relationship and their development as separate faith groups. A love for history motivated me to seek my Ph.D.

HUC-JIR held not only the promise of an excellent education, but a connection to family. A few generations-great-uncle took courses at HUC-JIR in his pursuit of becoming a cantor, and eventually made his mark as hazzan at the Eden Street Synagogue in Baltimore, MD. He and other family members, including my great-grandparents, immigrated to Cincinnati from Eastern Europe.

At HUC-JIR and UC, you can find me studying, archiving as a Research Associate at the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, or working on a Nabatean and Nelson Glueck exhibit for the Cincinnati Art Museum (UC/HUC-JIR). Besides my learning and research, I like to play clarinet and saxophone, trace my Cincinnati family's genealogical trail, visit museums and historic houses, dance, cook Middle Eastern and Ashkenazi food, read, and tell stories about my family and NYC. My favorite historical places in Cincinnati are the Harriet Beecher Stowe and William Howard Taft Houses.

Would you like to speak with Chelsea and other HUC-JIR students? Let us know! And learn more about our Pines School of Graduate Studies 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