Connecting as a Community with Meaning and Purpose - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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Connecting as a Community with Meaning and Purpose

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Monday, September 17, 2018

Members of the Alumni Leadership Council

 Left to right: Rabbi Alan Litwak, Rachel Margolis, MAJE/MAJCS, Dr. John Kampen, and Rabbi Melinda Panken.

As I write this, 5779 has just begun, with all the promise that a new year brings to a people: a new perspective, a shared sense of determination to be our best selves, and excitement regarding all that we can achieve. Yet the Yamim Nora’im are not a stand-alone event. We have the month of Elul to reflect and prepare - our minds, our bodies, our spirits. I’ve always found it powerful when the community joins together to admit our wrong-doings - none of us are perfect, yet we strive to make the world better, to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.

So too with HUC-JIR alumni - we stand on the edge of a number of changes within our community. While we still mourn the loss of Rabbi Aaron Panken, we stand together, anxious to develop a relationship with a new president, and see how best we can help support her/his vision for our beloved College. The Alumni Leadership Council is the unified body of alumni who have experienced different chapters in the same book of HUC-JIR experiences and education.

The Alumni Leadership Council (ALC) is comprised of the chairs of each Alumni Association, and leaders of our working groups - communications, recruitment, continued learning, and resource development. Our monthly meetings include sharing key issues and ideas among Alumni Associations, developing initiatives in partnership with the College-Institute administration, and providing feedback and ideas on College-Institute updates.

It is an honor to serve as the Alumni Leadership Council Chair, as I get to collaborate with a team of alumni from various HUC-JIR programs and campuses. In all of our work, we carefully consider cultural markers and experiences of students and alumni from each school, in order to further our mission and structure in service to all HUC-JIR alumni. Our collaborative process is guided by the idea that we are stronger together – our myriad experiences at HUC share a common language, similar coursework, and, ultimately, put us in a position to enrich the world around us.

The ALC is guided by a number of goals - at the core of our work is connecting alumni with one another and the College-Institute, building recognition of HUC-JIR in the broader community in order to recruit the best future leaders, and provide deep learning for our alumni community. Just as many of us will stand with our communities throughout the month of September, the ALC stands together poised to enhance our own community - with a strong voice that spans a wide network, and united in our passion for Judaism.

As we move forward towards new changes with open hearts and minds, let us always remember those whose efforts have brought us to these new and exciting times. Their strength gives us strength. Their passion for Reform Judaism drives us as we work to make a difference in the world.

I hope you’ll consider participating in our sacred work - if you are interested in learning more about the Alumni Leadership Council, please contact me at

In partnership,

Rachel Margolis, RJE
Chair, Alumni Leadership Council

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.