Skip to main content

Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Announces 2009 Ordination, Investiture, Graduate, and Honorary Degree Recipients

Main Content
Wednesday, March 18, 2009

For more information, contact Jean Rosensaft, 212-824-2209 or

Click here to view the national invitation for event details. 

Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D., President of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) has announced the class of 2009, who will be ordained, invested, and graduated this spring in Cincinnati, Los Angeles, and New York. HUC-JIR is the nation's oldest institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism.

Rabbi Ellenson said, “The Class of 2009 emerges from the College-Institute imbued with leadership skills, steeped in knowledge, strengthened by a commitment to service, and dedicated to bringing hope and healing to our troubled world.  As they touch the lives of others through their sacred work as rabbis, cantors, educators, communal professionals, scholars, and pastoral care-givers throughout North America and around the world, they will be a source of inspiration and guidance.”

Rabbi Ellenson also announced that the 2009 Roger E. Joseph Prize will be awarded at the New York Ordination and Investiture Service to Helen Lieberman, Founder of Ikamva Labantu, the South African non-profit organization that works with and assists affiliated community-based organizations serving children, youth, adults, families, seniors, and the disabled. Dr. Arno G. Motulsky, Professor Emeritus, Departments of Medicine and Genome Studies, Unviersity of Washington, will receive the 2009 Dr. Bernard Heller Prize at the Cincinnati Graduation Ceremony.

Rabbi Norman J. Cohen, Provost of HUC-JIR, will deliver the Ordination Address in New York; Rabbi Ellenson will deliver the Ordination Address in Cincinnati; and Rabbi Richard Levy, Director, School of Rabbinical Studies, HUC-JIR/LA, will deliver the Ordination Address in Los Angeles. Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi, Professor of Bible, HUC-JIR/LA, will deliver the Graduation Address in Los Angeles.

HUC-JIR will present the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, to Dov L. Seidman, Chairman and CEO of LRN, who will deliver the Graduation Address in New York; Dr. Scott S. Cowen, President of Tulane University, who will deliver the Graduation Address in Cincinnati;

Dr. Walter Homolka, Executive Director of Abraham Geiger College; Lowell Milken, Chairman and Co-Founder, Milken Family Foundation; Dr. Mohamed Fathi Osman, Scholar in Residence, Omar Ibn al-Khattab Foundation; and Cardinal William Henry Keeler, Archbishop Emeritus of Baltimore.  The Doctor of Humane letters, honoris causa, will be awarded posthumously to Dr. Michael Signer, z”l, Abrams Professor of Jewish Thought and Culture, University of Notre Dame.

Rabbi Lennard R. Thal, Senior Vice President Emeritus, Union for Reform Judaism, will receive the American Jewish Distinguished Service Award. Dr. Roland Chapdelaine, President, Los Angeles Trade Technical College; and Betty Benjamin, Former President, Women of Reform Judaism, will receive the Presidents' Medals.  Madelyn Mishkin Katz, Director of Student Life at HUC-JIR/LA, will receive a Citation in Recognition.

HUC-JIR alumni will be awarded honorary Doctorates of Divinity, Music, Jewish Religious Education, and Jewish Communal Service, as well as the Founders' Medallion, in recognition of their 25 years of distinguished professional service:

Rabbinical Alumni – Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa

Sanford D. Akselrad

James M. Bennett

Brad Lane Bloom

Judith A. Bluestein

Terry Allen Bookman

Gary M. Bretton-


Judith A. Chessin

Jody Ruth Cohen

Steven L. Denker

S. Joan Glazer Farber

Carol Glass

Constance A. Golden

Julie K. Gordon

Arthur Gross-Schaefer

Harley Karz-Wagman

Suzanne D. Kassel

Tracy G. Klirs

Robert Brent Lennick

Gregory S. Marx

Michael Matuson

Ian D. Morris

Stacy K. Offner

Joe Rooks Rapport

Gaylia R. Rooks

Amy R. Scheinerman

Avi M. Schulman

Judy Shanks

Scott L. Shpeen

Steve L. Silver

Keith H. Stern

Elizabeth Weiss Stern

Thomas K.Weiner

Margaret Moers Wenig

Irwin A. Zeplowitz

Yosef Mordecai



Cantorial Alumni – Doctor of Music, honoris causa

Andrew Edison

Boris Kazansky

Rachelle Faith Nelson

Steven Michael Puzarne

Jill Spasser



Communal Service Alumni - Doctor of Jewish Communal Service,
honoris causa


Mark L. Goldstein

Mark David Gurvis

Cheryl J. Kessler, z”l

Zev A. Kessler

Amy Dover Neistein

Steven A. Reitman



Education Alumni - Doctor of Jewish Religious Education,
honoris causa


Gail S. Kahn, RJE

Rabbi Barry M. Lutz, RJE

Cindy Reich, RJE

Lori B. Sagarin, RJE

Wendy Robinson Schwartz, RJE


Graduate Studies Alumni - Founders’ Medallion

Richard S. Hess, Ph.D.

Miriam Dean-Otting, Ph.D.

Steven M. Voth, Ph.D.

The College-Institute will award 175 earned degrees:

  • Ordain 43 rabbis (13 men, 30 women) at Ordination Services in Cincinnati, Los Angeles, and New York;
  • Invest 11 cantors (2 men, 9 women) at Investiture Services in New York;
  • 29 Master of Arts degrees in Hebrew Letters;
  • 20 Master of Arts degrees in Hebrew Literature;
  • 8 Master of Sacred Music degrees;
  • 10 Master of Arts degrees in Jewish Education;
  • 7 Master of Arts degrees in Religious Education;
  • 13 Certificates in Day School Teaching;
  • 12 Master of Arts in Jewish Communal Service degrees;
  • 9 Doctor of Ministry degrees;
  • 7 Doctor of Philosophy degrees;
  • 5 Master of Philosophy degree in Hebraic and Cognate Studies;
  • 1 Doctor of Hebrew Letters degree.

Please see the national invitation for full event details. 

All degrees are granted upon completion of all requirements.


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, 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.