Esther Herlitz Steps Down from HUC-JIR/Jerusalem Board of Overseers

Monday, June 25, 2012

Esther Herlitz has stepped down from the HUC-JIR/Jerusalem Board of Overseers after 25 years of devoted service.

Esther Herlitz is a remarkable "mini-history" of Israel and the Jewish people. Born 90 years ago in Berlin in Germany; she was raised in a family with deep connections to Reform Judaism. Herlitz made aliyah to Mandate Palestine in 1933. She attended high school in Jerusalem, and studied at a teachers seminary and the Foreign Service school.

In 1948, she began working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She served as consul to New York between 1955 and 1958. It was during these years that she made her lifelong connection to the Schueur family. She proudly recalls escorting Richard and Jim Scheuer to Israel for their first trip. That trip changed Dick's life and his love for the Jerusalem began there.

Herlitz served as ambassador to Denmark from 1966 until 1971, as well as on several missions to the United Nations. She was director of public relations for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the 1960s.

Herlitz was also a member of Tel Aviv City Council, and chaired its culture committee between 1960 and 1964. In 1972 she founded the Centre for Volunteer Services, and the following year was elected to the Knesset. She lost her seat in the 1977 elections, but returned to the Knesset on 14 August 1979;she lost her seat again in the 1981 elections.

Between 1977 and 1981 she served as secretary of the Tel Aviv branch of Na'amat, and was also on the organisation's central committee. She is board member and volunteer on a rich variety of cultural organizations.

She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by HUC-JIR in Jerusalem in 1999.

Her passionate devotion to the Jewish people worldwide, to a democratic and pluralistic Israel, and to building the bridges between has not wavered. She is a pioneering force and a true role model for women today, when she had none!  We are beyond grateful to Esther Herlitz; on her shoulders, the Jerusalem campus has stood taller.


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 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