HUC-JIR Presents Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa, to Clifford E. Librach

Friday, May 6, 2011

Rabbi David Ellenson, President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, will award Rabbi Clifford E. Librach with the Doctor of Divinity at Graduation Ceremonies in Cincinnati on Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 7:30 pm at Isaac M. Wise Temple (8329 Ridge Road).  Rabbi Librach will be honored for 25 years of scholarly distinction as an alumnus of HUC-JIR.

The United Jewish Center is proud to call Rabbi Clifford E. Librach its energetic, innovative, and dynamic spiritual leader.  His definition of Reform Judaism as "an attitude rather than a rigid theology" encourages his congregants to explore and deepen their commitment to Judaism and the Jewish people.  He is a healer, a leader, and a well-respected thinker.  

Rabbi Librach is a widely published and respected scholar, appearing in such journals as Commentary and the CCAR Journal.  His introductory essay “Personal Responsibility: The Foundation of Jewish Ethics” in Public Policy and Social Issues, edited by Marshall J. Breger (2004), has won international acclaim.  He has been scholarly and challenging from the pulpit as well – and playful, supportive and engaging with our children.  He has skills and talents beyond his impressive resume: for example, as a puppeteer teaching The Ten Plagues or as a master auctioneer whose enthusiasm and antics raised some $16,000 for us in one evening.

In November 1998, Rabbi Librach was honored by The Forward, the national Jewish weekly, which named him one of America's fifty most influential and dynamic leaders and thinkers. He was the only Reform pulpit rabbi to be so honored.

Rabbi Librach came to the UJC from Temple Sinai of Sharon, MA. As spiritual leader there for eleven years, he demonstrated dramatic leadership and great versatility.  Their new $6 million home was financed and built on the strength of his tireless effort and clearly articulated vision.  His provocative Saturday morning Torah study discussions with adults were often followed by joyous singing and warm, meaningful Shabbat Morning services.

 This is the kind of Rabbi who is not afraid to take a strong stand on a difficult issue in a Friday night sermon, but also the kind of mensch who delights children and adults at Purim, Chanukah, and Simchat Torah.

Prior to his tenure in Massachusetts, Rabbi Librach was rabbi at Moses Montefiore Congregation in Bloomington, IL.  During his six years there, he also compiled an extraordinary record of religious and community leadership.  He served as Adjunct Professor of Jewish Thought at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington.

Clifford E. Librach was born and raised in St. Louis, MO.  He holds a Bachelor's degree (cum laude) in Philosophy and American Studies from Georgetown University and a Juris Doctor degree from New York University, where he was Associate Editor of The Law Review and Research Assistant to Dean Norman Redlich.  His received rabbinic ordination from HUC-JIR in Cincinnati, OH, where he was the student of the late revered scholars Rabbis Chanan Brichto and Jakob J. Petuchowski.  His rabbinic thesis, "Judaism Beyond Autonomy: A Philosophy of Halakha for Liberal Jews" was completed under Petuchowski's tutelage. While in Cincinnati, he taught Professional Ethics at the University of Cincinnati School of Law.

Before Rabbi Librach's ordination, he served as Law Clerk to Chief Justice Robert E. Seiler of the Supreme Court of Missouri and was a litigator with two distinguished law firms, Husch & Eppenberger in St. Louis and Taft, Stettinius & Hollister in Cincinnati.  Rabbi Librach is the author of numerous articles and reviews in the fields of Judaism, Reform Judaism, prayer and rabbinics, published in such journals as Sh'ma, the CCAR Journal, First Things and Commentary.

Rabbi Librach is involved in synagogue activities on all levels. He was recently appointed to a special Committee of the Central Conference of American Rabbis to review its overall program and financial health.  His rabbinic knowledge and expertise bring us a new measure of spirituality and confident leadership. His enthusiasm and passion for Judaism are contagious, as are his decency and caring.

Rabbi Librach and his wife, Miriam, and their children, Giliah (25, now a resident of Israel) and Max (21) are delighted to call the UJC of Danbury their spiritual home. And the UJC is proud to call him Moreinu haRav, our teacher, our leader, our Rabbi.

Click here to view the National Ordination/Investiture/Graduation press release.


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, 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