The Dedication of the Richard J. Scheuer Israel Seminar - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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The Dedication of the Richard J. Scheuer Israel Seminar

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Friday, December 14, 2012

It is with tremendous excitement and gratitude that we announce the naming of our weekly Israel Seminar program for our Year-In-Israel Program for Richard J. Scheuer, former Chairman of the HUC-JIR Board of Governors.  The naming of this Seminar in memory of Richard Scheuer was made possible by a generous endowment gift provided by the Scheuer family: Elizabeth Scheuer and her husband Peter Joseph (members of the HUC-JIR Board of Governors) and Joan Scheuer, Richard's widow, and their daughter Marian Scheuer Sofaer, as well as from a significant donation provided by the Skirball Foundation. 

A dedication ceremony in which the Seminar was formally named in memory of Richard Scheuer was held on November 14, 2012, on the Jerusalem campus in an auditorium filled with students, Israeli guests, and a delegation of the HUC-JIR Board of Governors Israel Committee, co-chaired by Governors David Harman of Jerusalem and John Golden of New York.  The ceremony was marked by a brief clip of a film on Mr. Scheuer’s life, and speeches by President David Ellenson and Jerusalem Dean Rabbi Naamah Kelman, who shared warm memories of Richard with the audience. However, the real "showstopper" of the ceremony was Esther Herlitz, former Israeli diplomat and member of our Jerusalem Board of Overseers.  Ms. Herlitz was introduced by David Harman, and she proceeded to describe how she initially met the Scheuer family in the 1960s when Richard’s brother James, a Congressman from New York, first brought the family to Israel.  She related in depth and with humor how her meeting and friendship with Richard led to his ever-increasing involvement in Israel.

The Richard J. Scheuer Israel Seminar is a weekly day-long seminar, initiated during the tenure of Rabbi Michael Marmur as Dean of the Jerusalem campus.  It constitutes the centerpiece of the HUC-JIR Year-In-Israel Program for entering students as they embark on the educational journey that will lead to their careers as rabbis, cantors, and educators among the Jewish people.  The Seminar investigates the multiple voices in Israeli society and the complex search for solidarity and mutual responsibility among Jews living in both Israel and the Diaspora.  It does so by exploring the changing nature of Israeli society from its pre-state emphasis on the molding of the new Jew to the contemporary reality of competing ideational-cultural voices. Programming involves lectures, site visits, visiting speakers, film, literature, and music. 

Richard J. Scheuer was a man marked by great intellect, generosity, and humility who shunned honors during his lifetime.  He served not only as Chair of the HUC-JIR Board of Governors, but as Chair of its Israel Committee, and, in partnership with President Alfred Gottschalk, was the chief architect of the HUC-JIR/Jerusalem campus, working closely with architect Moshe Safdie throughout its design and construction.  An unparalleled lover of Israel, Richard Scheuer loved the Jerusalem School, its visual connection to the Old City, and the Year-In-Israel Program for bringing North American matriculating students to Jerusalem. He believed that infusing the Year-In-Israel Program with the history and archaeology of the Jewish people in the land of Israel at the same time as students learned about Israel as a contemporary society would enhance their understanding of the Jewish people. He celebrated each of the Jerusalem School’s successes and cheered on the College-Institute year after year throughout his lifetime. It is therefore particularly fitting and an honor for the College-Institute that his name will now be associated permanently with our Jerusalem campus.

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 leaders to serve 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, museums, 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.