Sara S. Lee Receives Honorary Degree at HUC-JIR Graduation

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sara S. Lee, Director Emerita of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education; Project Leader of the Mandel Initiative for Visionary Leadership; and Adjunct Professor Emerita of Jewish Education at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, received the Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, at HUC-JIR’s Graduation Ceremony in Los Angeles.

The convocation — at which Professor Lee gave the address —took place on Monday, May 14, 2012 at 3 p.m. at the College-Institute’s Jack H. Skirball Campus, 3077 University Avenue.

A gifted educator and nationally recognized authority in her field, Professor Lee was honored for more than two decades of work placing her alma mater at the forefront of Jewish education. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in social relations from Radcliffe College, she earned a master’s degree in Jewish Education from HUC-JIR in 1977. She also has a master’s degree in education from the University of Southern California.

A nurturing mentor for her students and disciples, she led the Rhea Hirsch School of Education from 1980-2007 and encouraged future Jewish educators to strengthen Jewish education in their synagogues throughout the Reform Movement.

Professor Lee’s academic areas of specialty are curriculum, organizational and sociological phenomena, and educational leadership as they relate to Jewish education. She has edited or co-edited three books related to these topics: A Congregation of Learners, Touching the Future: Mentoring and the Jewish Professional, and Communities of Learning: A Vision for the Jewish Future. She also is interested in interreligious education and has authored, with Mary C. Boys, Christians and Jews in Dialogue: Learning in the Presence of the Other.

During Professor Lee’s years as an educator, she has received accolades too numerous to mention. Among them is the President’s Award for Distinguished Leadership of Jewish Education in the Diaspora, awarded by the President of the State of Israel and the Education Department of the Jewish Agency for Israel. She also received the Samuel Rothberg Prize in Jewish Education by The Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a Doctor of Hebrew Letters, honoris causa, from The Jewish Theological Seminary.


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