Rabbi Kenneth E. Ehrlich Appointed Counselor to the President of :Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Rabbi Kenneth E. Ehrlich has been appointed Counselor to the President at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), after completing 31 distinguished years as Dean of its Cincinnati campus. In his new role, Dean Ehrlich will assume responsibility for special academic projects and will help raise the visibility and financial resources of the College-Institute through his work with benefactors, alumni, congregations, and foundations throughout the region. He assumes this new position on September 1, 2011.

Rabbi David Ellenson, HUC-JIR President, stated, “Rabbi Ehrlich has provided devoted leadership on behalf of the development and growth of our Cincinnati campus, its faculty,  and its academic and professional development programs. He has been an ardent advocate on behalf of nurturing constructive relationships with the academic institutions of this city and region, which has led to the formal academic partnership with Xavier University resulting in Xavier’s ‘minor’ in Jewish Studies, and developing partnerships with the University of Cincinnati and the University of Dayton.  He has nurtured the commitment of lay leaders, the corporate community, and friends, through the establishment of the Cincinnati Board of Overseers and creation of the Cincinnati Associates and the Annual Cincinnati Associates Tribute Dinners. His dynamic vision for the campus has yielded capital improvements and additions to the Cincinnati campus, including Mayerson Hall and the Skirball Museum, the Hermann Learning Center (classroom building), and the state-of-the art renovation and expansion of the American Jewish Archives, the world’s premier center for the study, research and publication in the field of American Jewish history, and the Klau Library, the second largest Jewish library in the world. Most recently, he advanced the renovation of the Sisterhood Dormitory to house faculty offices, seminar and conference rooms, offices of the Cincinnati administrative staff, and the Teller Student Lounge. He has welcomed learners of all faiths to the Cincinnati campus through the establishment of the Academy for Adult Interfaith Studies and other academic and cultural outreach programs. Moreover, he has served as a beloved mentor, teacher, and exemplar to his students.”

Rabbi Ehrlich noted, “It has been a privilege to serve as Dean of this campus. I am grateful to  the scholars and teachers on our faculty who have shared with me their knowledge and their wisdom; to our students who have inspired me with their drive to learn and to serve; to our dedicated staff for their good work and their loyalty; and to our many friends, here and throughout the country, who endorse and  support our efforts. Most of all, I am grateful to Rabbi David Ellenson for his vision, his leadership, and his friendship, and I look forward to working closely with him over the next few years as he ensures the success of our efforts on behalf of the financial sustainability and continued academic excellence.”  

He praised his successor, Dr. Jonathan Cohen, Associate Professor of Talmud and Halachic Literature and Director of the HUC-UC Ethics Center, saying “Dr. Jonathan Cohen is a gifted scholar and an accomplished teacher.  He is dedicated to the mission of the College-Institute, and has a clear vision for the future of our Cincinnati campus. The faculty, staff, and students share President Ellenson’s confidence that Dean Cohen will guide our Cincinnati campus from strength to strength.”  

Significant academic achievements during Rabbi Ehrlich’s tenure include the expansion and improvement of the Professional Development curriculum, including the establishment of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) as requirement for all rabbinical students, and accreditation of Cincinnati campus as a CPE training site (only rabbinical seminary in the world with ACPE accreditation); on-site training and supervision in Jewish Education for all 2nd year students; addition of a Liturgical Arts program; the Mayerson Field Work Seminar, providing on-going mentoring of bi-weekly students by congregational rabbis; homiletics courses and sermons in years 3, 4, 5; the “Rabbinic Workshop” in the 2nd year, and the “Senior Seminar” in the 5th year; and required seminars in sexual ethics and professional boundaries, and “Prepare and Enrich” for pre-marital counseling skills. He advanced closer integration of elective courses and seminars between Rabbinical and Graduate Schools; instituted Summer and “intensive” courses that give students greater flexibility in course scheduling; and initiated e-learning courses offered across campuses.  

Recognized as a prominent leader of the Cincinnati community, Rabbi Ehrlich’s communal activities have included Greater Cincinnati Consortium of Colleges and Universities, Committee of Chief Academic Officers; Institutional Review Board of the Jewish Hospital of Cincinnati; Board of Directors of the Center for Respite Care (an organization that provides medical care to homeless men and women in Cincinnati); Steering Committee and Chair of the Diversity Committee of Leadership Cincinnati; Vice-Chair of several fundraising dinners sponsored by Bridges for a Just Community (formerly, National Council of Christians and Jews); “Committee to Restore Fairness” (a  group of corporate, religious, educational and civic leaders who led the successful effort to repeal an anti-gay ordinance in Cincinnati); and Israel Program Committee, Cincinnati Jewish Foundation.

Rabbi Ehrlich received his B.A. from Johns Hopkins University (1969) and was ordained at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati in 1974. He served as Assistant to the Dean, Associate Dean, and Acting Dean at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati (1974-1979); Associate Rabbi, United Hebrew Congregation, St. Louis, Missouri (1979-1983); and Rabbi, Temple Beth Aaron and Scholar in Judaic Studies, Eastern Montana University (now Montana State University in Billings), Billings, Montana (1983-1985). He returned to HUC-JIR in 1985 as Director of the Rabbinical School, Director of Homiletics, and Dean HUC-JIR.

He has written articles, reviews, and review essays on subjects in American Jewish History and Culture, American Jewish Humor, American Jewish Literature, and Homiletics, and is in the process of completing his book on Jewish Preaching and Classical Rhetoric. For the past 25 years, he has conducted High Holy Day services in small congregations and Hillels throughout the country.  An avid fly fisherman, he teaches fly casting, fly tying, and a course on “Fly Fishing in American Literature.”

He and his wife, Mary Silva, are the parents of Chris, a graphic design artist, who lives in Lexington, KY, with his wife Rosemary; Lauren, completing her Ph.D. in Counseling at Virginia Tech. in Blacksburg, VA, where her husband, Michael, is Professor of Architecture, and their two children, Zachery (age 6) and Miles (age 4) are gaining proficiency in reading, arithmetic, spelling, and soccer; and Sara, who just completed her M.S. in nursing at DePaul University in Chicago, and will soon begin work in Emergency Medicine at a Chicago hospital.


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