I am delighted to announce the appointment of Dr. Michael Marmur as Vice President for Academic Affairs of the College-Institute, effective July 1, 2009.
As Dean of our Jerusalem School since 1998, Michael has had overall responsibility for the activities of HUC-JIR in Jerusalem, with the mandate to consolidate activities and expand programs in the areas of education and leadership development.
During his decade of leadership, Michael has advanced and diversified the Jerusalem school’s offerings. He has supervised the overhaul of the Year-In-Israel Program for first-year rabbinical, cantorial, and education students from North America, integrated students from the Leo Baeck College in London, England, and the Abraham Geiger Kolleg in Potsdam, Germany, and introduced the highly successful Israel Seminar.
With the establishment of the Blaustein Center for Pastoral Care with the generous support of Betty and Arthur Roswell and the Blaustein Foundation, Michael has launched the innovative Mezorim and Lifetexts (Suggiyot Hayyim) programs, which are introducing the role of chaplain to Israeli society and enriching adult learning opportunities beyond the home of the College-Insitute in Jerusalem to Tel Aviv. He has also overseen the establishment of a Department for Education and Professional Development which offers the M.A. degree in Pluralistic Jewish Education in conjunction with the Melton Center at the Hebrew University. Michael has furthered the Nelson Glueck School of Archaeology’s excavations, publications, and community archaeology programs, and has expanded the resources of The Abramov Library to embrace the establishment of an archive of Progressive Judaism in Israel.
During Michael’s tenure as Dean, the Jerusalem School has emerged as a significant voice in Israel’s cultural and spiritual life, through the expansion of its leadership training programs in partnership with institutions of Israeli Reform Judaism. The Israeli Rabbinical Program has quadrupled in size, and the range and quality of applicants to the program has skyrocketed.
Throughout these accomplishments, Michael has met the challenge of identifying, nurturing, teaching, and preparing young people who are capable of providing modern Israel with a liberal, pluralistic religious-cultural expression of Judaism. His proudest professional achievement has been to help mold a team of excellent men and women who are making a major impact on the future leadership of Progressive Judaism in North America, Israel and the Jewish world. Michael is keen to point out that these achievements have been brought about by the outstanding team of colleagues who constitute one of the most exciting, innovative, and collaborative group of academics and administrators at work in Israel today. Alongside those present when he took up his post, the last years have seen the addition of several extraordinary individuals who have elevated and expanded the academic-professional programs and intellectual-spiritual life of the Jerusalem campus. These persons include Rabbi Naamah Kelman (Associate Dean), Prof. Yehoyada Amir (Director, Israel Rabbinic Program), Dr. David Levine (Sonabend Professor of Talmud and Jewish Law), Mr. Dan Canaan (Administrative Director), Dr. Michal Muszkat-Barkan (Director, Department of Education and Professional Development), Dr. Dalia Marx (Professor of Liturgy and Midrash), Dr. David Mendelsson (Israel Studies), Rabbi Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi (Jewish Thought and Liturgy), Dr. Ruchama Weiss (Director, Mezorim Program), Ms. Nancy Lewitt (Head of Student Life), Cantor Tamar Havilio (Acting Director, Cantorial Program), Ms. Batya Kaplan (Librarian), Rabbi David Wilfond (Regional Director of Admissions), and Ms. Rachel Ullman (Business Office).
Born in London, England, in 1962, Michael was raised in a rabbinical household – his father, Dow Marmur, has had an eminent rabbinic career spanning London, Toronto and Jerusalem. Michael attended the University of Oxford, completing a B.A. degree in Modern History. In 1984 he attended HUC-JIR’s Year-In-Israel Program and decided to make Israel his home. Enrolling at the Hebrew University in an M.A. Program in Ancient History, Michael also became a student in HUC-JIR’s Israeli Rabbinical Program, and was ordained in 1992.
He holds a Ph.D. in Jewish Thought from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and is recognized for his expertise on the thought of Abraham Joshua Heschel. He is an Assistant Professor of Jewish Theology, and has taught courses on topics such as the Theology of Prayer, Reform Jewish Thought, Pluralistic Jewish Education, and Rabbinic Sources Through a Contemporary Prism. Recent publications include "In Search of Heschel", Shofar 26.1 (2007): 9-40; "Happiness Inside the State: Toward a Liberal Theology of Israel", CCAR Journal 54.2 (2007): 84-97; "Heschel's Two Maimonides", Jewish Quarterly Review 98.2 (2008): 230-254; "Progressive Judaism: Choices, Myths and Failures", Manna 100 (2008): 1-4. Michael is currently preparing a book on Heschel's reading of classical Jewish sources, and a number of academic articles are set for publication in the coming months. A former columnist for the Jerusalem Post, he currently authors the “Reform Reflections” blog on the Jerusalem Post website. He has lectured and taught extensively in North America, Israel, and Western and Central Europe.
Following his ordination, Michael worked for six years at the Leo Baeck Education Center in Haifa, where he served as rabbi of Ohel Avraham Congregation, a teacher in the secondary school, and a member of the Executive Team. He has also acted as Chair of the Ideological Committee of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, and as Vice-Chair of the Israel Assembly of Progressive Rabbis.
Michael is married to Sarah Bernstein, who specializes in the field of dialogue between Jewish and Arab women. Michael and Sarah have three children – Miriam, currently serving in the IDF, Nadav, a twelfth-grader, and Gaby, aged 14. His parents, Rabbi Dow and Fredzia Marmur, live part of each year in Jerusalem.
I look forward to working closely with Michael as the new chief academic officer of our institution. His intellectual rigor, scholarship, collegial spirit, and creativity, as well as his passionate commitment to Reform Judaism and his love for the College-Institute and our mission will allow us to build upon the accomplishments of the last decade and continue our striving for ever-greater academic and professional excellence for our faculty and students.