Ruth Messinger, President, AJWS, Delivered the Culmination Address for School of Jewish Communal Service

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

August 5, 2009 – Seven students received the Certificate in Jewish Communal Service at the 40th annual culmination exercises of the School of Jewish Communal Service (SJCS) at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC–JIR) in Los Angeles.  All of the students will be continuing on for their Masters in Jewish Communal Service; with five completing dual degree programs at USC (2 in the MSW program and 3 in the MPA program), one in the HUC-JIR School of Rabbinical Studies, and one in the MARE program at HUC-JIR/NY.

The SJCS, the oldest program of its kind in the country, provides graduate education for students preparing for professional careers in the Jewish community.  The program combines study of Jewish text and traditions, Jewish communal organization and leadership, nonprofit management, fieldwork internships and original research.  Graduates of the SCJS serve in leadership positions in synagogues, educational institutions, and community agencies throughout North America and internationally.

Ruth Messinger, President of American Jewish World Service, who was serving as the Rabbi Louis Bernstein Scholar-in-Residence, also deliver the Culmination Address.  Her address, entitled “Just Leadership: The Jewish Responsibility for Global Change,” challenged the students to envision their Jewish professional leadership as serving the broader needs of the global community.

In his written remarks of congratulations to the students, HUC-JIR President, Rabbi David Ellenson also announced the appointment of Richard Siegel as the next Director of the SJCS.  As Interim Director for the past year and a half, Siegel developed a new strategic plan for the SJCS which outlined a graduate program of increasing excellence and impact, as well as a new division of in-service training for professionals already serving in the Jewish community.

Samantha Pohl, a second year MAJCS/MPA student, presented remarks on behalf of her class on the theme of “Community.”  She observed that, “Among all of us whose hearts move us, each person has a gift to share – whether it is a skill, perspective, or personality trait that enhances our community. The most exciting aspect of the second year class is the diverse backgrounds, interests, and ideals we carry with us. Over the past year, we have used our individual gifts to create a strong collective; while it may not always be perfect, the second years have come together to accomplish great things.”

The School of Jewish Communal Service of HUC-JIR was founded in 1968 to address the need for more highly trained and Jewishly committed professionals in Jewish life. Over the past 40 years, the SJCS has earned a distinguished reputation as a premier center for the education of Jewish professional leaders with a unique interdisciplinary approach combining Jewish studies and nonprofit management.


Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's first 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 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