Founders' Day at HUC-JIR

Friday, February 19, 2010

Each year, Founders' Day programs commemorate the vision of HUC-JIR's founders: Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise and Rabbi Stephen S. Wise.  

New York: Rabbi Lance Sussman will present a lecture at services on March 18 at 10:05 a.m. on "New York State of Mind: Stephen S. Wise and the Founding of the Jewish Institute of Religion" Rabbi Sussman, Ph.D., is Senior Rabbi of Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel in Elkins Park, PA. He has taught American Jewish History at Princeton, Binghamton University and Hunter College. He is the national Chair of the Press of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, a founding member of the Academic Advisory and Executive Board of the American Jewish Archives, and a Trustee of the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies of the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of numerous books and articles including Isaac Leeser and the Making of American Judaism (1995), and an editor of Reform Judaism in America: A Biographical Dictionary and Source Book (1993). 

  Cincinnati: Founders’ Day Services on March 24 at 10:50 a.m. will honor the memory of Dr. Alfred Gottschalk, z”l, Chancellor Emeritus of HUC-JIR.  Dr. Gottschalk’s writings and speeches will be featured as the readings and creative liturgy in the service. Members of his family and friends in the Cincinnati area will be invited as special guests to attend this tribute

Los Angeles: Students and faculty gathered in the Hilborn Synagogue on February 9 for a Shacharit (morning) service in memory and honor of those who created this institution and the Reform Movement.  The community prayed from Isaac Mayer Wise’s prayer book Minhag America, offering prayers in his elegant English and a Hebrew which he revised considerably from the traditional text.  Cantor Evan Kent sang some soaring pieces from the classical Reform repertory (including pieces by Louis Lewandowski and A. W. Binder), accompanied on the organ setting of our synthesizer by Jeffrey Silverman.  The service concluded with the High Holy Day hymn, “All the World Shall Come to Serve Thee,” and even those who had never heard this and other musical pieces, joined in and professed to have been greatly moved by them.  We hope to make this an annual tradition at the Los Angeles campus, perhaps using David Einhorn’s Olat Tamid and other classical prayer books of the Movement’s past.  In addition, the HUC-JIR/LA community gathered for a special case presentation program addressing the issue of gender identity in the Reform Jewish Community. In this way our students - the future religious and communal leaders of the Reform movement - followed in the tradition of our founders, who paved the way for our institution to train leaders who helped to shape our movement. In facing some of the pressing issues in our movement our students continue to shape the Reform Jewish community, much the same way our founders did.  The case presentation included a student representative from the Rabbinical, Education, and Communal Service programs responding to a case study in which they were asked to address the challenges in helping a synagogue family whose transgender child is approaching the age of Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Samantha Orshan (Rabbinical), Courtney Jacobson (Communal Service), and Lauren Luskey (Education) each spoke about their particular professional perspective on the scenario presented and then participated in a community-wide q&a. The program affirmed our commitment to training our students to strive toward shared leadership in the Jewish community and to work together to meet the ever unfolding and challenging needs of the Reform Jewish community.


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 Jacob Rader Marcus Center of 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.