Barbara Benioff Friedman, the first woman to lead HUC-JIR's Board of Governors in its 135-year-long history, received the Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, at HUC-JIR’s Graduation Ceremonies in New York. The convocation took place at Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York on Thursday, April 29, 2010 at 4 p.m.
Barbara Friedman was inducted as Chair on January 1, 2007. On that occasion, Rabbi Ellenson noted, "We take pride in this historic milestone, as the institution that ordained the first woman rabbi in America, the seminary for the Reform Movement that has advanced egalitarian rights in Jewish life and practice, and the largest women's Jewish studies faculty outside of Israel.”
Barbara Friedman’s tenure as Chair was distinguished by significant advances for the College-Institute. Rabbi Ellenson stated, “I am enormously grateful to Barbara Friedman for her friendship, support, and dedicated leadership as Chair for the past three years. She has been the moving force in the development of a new strategic plan that will sustain our academic excellence, help us achieve financial sustainability, and further strengthen our mission as one, integrated institution. We look forward to her continued involvement in the implementation of our “New Way Forward.” The College-Institute has surely been and will remain blessed by her ongoing commitment and dedication to this institution and our mission."
Barbara Friedman joined the HUC-JIR Board of Governors in 1993, where she has served as Vice Chair, Chair of the Nominating Committee, Chair of the Student Welfare Committee, and a member of the Pension and Benefits and Budget Committees. She is co-chair of the Strategic Planning Committee and of its Implementation Committee.
In 2003, she and her husband, Stephen Friedman, endowed the Barbara and Stephen Friedman Chair in Liturgy, Worship, and Ritual at HUC-JIR to honor its inaugural recipient, Dr. Lawrence A. Hoffman, and his contribution in envisioning the synagogue as the moral and spiritual center for 21st-century Jewry. As the first of its kind at HUC-JIR, the Friedman Chair reflects the College-Institute's commitment to revisioning Jewish faith, thought, and practice by exploring new forms of liturgy, worship, and ritual that are meaningful and inspirational for Jews today.
"We have a responsibility for the future of the Jewish people," stated Barbara Friedman. "In this changing world, HUC-JIR plays an indispensable role by educating liberal professional and spiritual leaders who can transform communities, engage the next generations, and ensure the vitality of our values and heritage. It has been my privilege to work with HUC-JIR's extraordinary President David Ellenson, the administration, faculty, and Board members in strengthening HUC-JIR's academic excellence and financial sustainability."
Barbara Benioff Friedman received the B.A. from the College of Arts and Sciences in 1959 at Cornell University, where she is a Trustee Emerita. She is Vice Chair of the Board of Overseers of the Weill Medical College of Cornell University, Honorary Chair of the Jewish Braille Institute, and Past Chair of CLAL. She has served on the Boards of the Settlement Housing Fund, Jewish Outreach Institute, and Central Synagogue, and was a leader of UJA-Federation of New York, where she chaired the Distribution Committee and Public Policy Committee, and served on the Domestic Cabinet, UJA-Federation Board, and Strategic Planning Committees, and has been involved with the Women's Campaign for over twenty-five years. She taught in the New York City public school system in Harlem when she was first married.
Irwin Engelman succeeded Barbara Friedman as Chairman of the Board of Governors on February 9, 2010.