Stephen A. Kaufman, Ph.D., Awarded Honorary Doctorate from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Monday, June 25, 2012

Rabbi David Ellenson, President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) awardedDr. Stephen A. Kaufman, Professor Emeritus of Bible and Cognate Literature at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati, the Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, in recognition of his contributions to scholarship and mentorship of generations of rabbinical students and graduate students. The presentation was made on June 3 at HUC-JIR’s Graduation Ceremonies on the Cincinnati campus.

Rabbi Ellenson stated, “Dr. Stephen Kaufman is a renowned academician, whose gifts as a professor have inspired generations of our students and whose prolific writings have enriched the world of scholarship.  His research in the intricate world of ancient Semitic languages, epigraphy, Targumic studies, and bi-lingual lexicography have made him an authority in his field.”

He studied at Columbia College and the Jewish Theological Seminary (196203), received his B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Minnesota (1966), and received his Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literature from Yale University (1970).  He studied at Hebrew University in Jerusalem (1970-71). His fields of specialization are Ancient Semitic Languages, North-West Semitic Epigraphy, Biblical Studies, Targumic (and other Jewish Aramaic) Studies, Syriac, and Bilingual Lexicography.

Prior to joining the HUC-JIR faculty in 1976, he taught at the University of Chicago (1971-76) and Haifa University (1974-76).  

Dr. Kaufman is the editor-in-chief and principal investigator of The Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon (1990- present), and its editor (1986-90).  He was the Sectional Editor, Ancient Near East, of the Journal of the American Oriental Society (1988-92) and Editor of the Society of Biblical Literature Aramaic Series (1979-86).  He has served on the Editorial Boards of MAARAV, vols. 1-3, Heberw Studies (1986-88), and Journal for Aramaic Studies (2002-present).

His extensive publications include The Akkadian Influences on Aramaic (1974), The Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon: Test Entry and Format Manual (1987), An Aramaic Bibliography: Part 1 (with J. A. Fitzmyer, 1992), A Key-Word-in-Context Concordance to Targum Neofiti I (with M. Sokoloff, 1993), Jacob of Sarug’s Homily on the Judgment of Solomon (2008), Jacob of Sarug’s Homilies on Elijah (2009), and Jacob of Sarug’s Homilies on Elisha (2011).


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