Professor Michael A. Signer, z"l - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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Professor Michael A. Signer, z"l

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Monday, January 12, 2009

The faculty, students, and administration of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion mourn the loss of our beloved friend, teacher, and mentor, Professor Michael A. Signer.Rabbi Signer was Abrams Professor of Jewish Thought and Culture at the University of Notre Dame; an expert in medieval Hebrew and Latin interpretations of and commentaries on the Bible; a leader in Jewish-Catholic dialogue in Israel, Europe, and North America; and an esteemed rabbinical alumnus of HUC-JIR, who served for almost two decades at our Los Angeles campus as Professor of Medieval History and Commentaries and co-chair of the Joint Commission on Inter-religious Affairs of the Reform Movement since 1998.


Rabbi Signer and his wife, Betty, led a delegation of HUC-JIR students to Germany in a an interfaith pilgrimage of memory and reconciliation after the Holocaust.A report on their journey was published in the HUC-JIR Chronicle magazine:


His article on "Catholic-Jewish Relations: HUC-JIR Alumni Perspectives" appeared in the HUC-JIR Chronicle magazine:


At Notre Dame, his areas of teaching were the study of the Bible in the Middle Ages by Jews and Christians;Saint Victor in Paris and its theologians in the twelfth century; and Jewish history in France and Germany 900-1500.His recent areas of research included Medieval and Jewish Christian biblical exegesis; Jewish-Christian Relations from Antiquity to the Middle Ages; and Manuscript Studies.Among his many honors and awards were the Lady Davis Teaching Fellowship, Hebrew University, Jerusalem; and Fellow, Center for Advanced Jewish Studies, University of Pennsylvania.His numerous publications included History and Memory in Judaism and Christianity (Notre Dame, 2001); and Co-editor, Jews and Christians in Twelfth-Century Europe (Notre Dame, 2001).


Introduction: The Transformative Work of Michael A. Signer by Franklin T. Harkins, was published in a Festschrift, a collection of essays written for Rabbi Signer on the occasion of his thirty-fifth anniversary of teaching.


Our heartfelt condolences go to his wife, Betty, and his daughters, Alisa and Hanna.

Read the Eulogy for Michael Signer by Rabbi David Ellenson, President, HUC-JIR


The Professor Michael Signer Memorial Fund for HUC-JIR Social Responsibility Programs in Israel has been established in his memory.Contributions can be sent to:


Office of Development


One West 4th Street

New York, NY 10012



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.