HUC-JIR Presents Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa, to Ruth Langer

Friday, May 6, 2011

Rabbi David Ellenson, President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, will award Rabbi Ruth Langer 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 Langer will be honored for 25 years of scholarly distinction as an alumna of HUC-JIR.

Rabbi Ruth Langer is Associate Professor of Jewish Studies in the Theology Department at Boston College and Associate Director of  its Center for Christian-Jewish Learning. She received her Ph.D. in Jewish Liturgy in 1994 and her rabbinic ordination in 1986 from Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College.

One cluster of her research interests and publications focuses on questions of the development of Jewish liturgy and ritual. Her book, To Worship God Properly: Tensions between Liturgical Custom and Halakhah in Judaism, published in 1998 (Hebrew Union College Press), examines the interplay between liturgical law and custom in the medieval world, investigating the tensions between rabbinic dictates and the actual practices and understandings of the community. She also co-edited Liturgy in the Life of the Synagogue (Eisenbrauns, 2005) and has published a long list of articles.

As Associate Director of Boston College's Center for Christian-Jewish Learning, she also writes, teaches, and speaks about issues of interreligious dialogue. She also co-edits the e-journal it publishes, Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations.

Langer's forthcoming book, Cursing the Christians?: A History of the Birkat HaMinim (Oxford, 2012) combines these two areas of interest. The birkat haminim (malediction of the sectarians), a prayer that cursed Christians until censors removed the offending language, was a frequent topic in Christian polemics and Jewish apologetics. This book investigates the fascinating history of the changing texts and understandings of this prayer through its transformation into a prayer against evil in general.

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