Welcoming the New Academic Year

Friday, September 7, 2012

Students across HUC-JIR’s stateside campuses are beginning their studies or returning from their summer internships, chaplaincy training, and infield social responsibility projects with energy, vision, and anticipation for the 2012-2013 academic year. 

As we conclude the first two weeks of classes at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati, we are delighted to recognize a wonderful group of new students who are taking their first steps with us towards a life of leadership, learning, and teaching.

This year, new orientation programs for rabbinical and graduate students offered members of our greater community ample opportunity to extend a warm Cincinnati welcome to the class. Students also enjoyed visiting local landmarks and starting to explore the rich heritage of the Reform Movement in Cincinnati and the array of amenities and services offered throughout our community. Our orientations concluded with a traditional, festive summer barbecue that attracted students, faculty, staff, and members of their families.

The opening of our school year was marked by an academic Convocation. Our community joined together as we celebrated the start of another session of learning, recognized a member of our staff, and honored Professor Lowell McCoy and Rabbi Ezra Spicehandler. We were delighted to welcome back our distinguished alumnus Rabbi Richard A. Block, President Elect of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, who delivered an engaging and challenging keynote address to our community.

This academic year promises to be one of innovation and renewal, and of growing partnerships and collaborations with academic institutions and Jewish agencies. On September 9, we look forward to celebrating the opening of the internationally acclaimed "A Blessing To One Another: Pope John Paul II & the Jewish People" exhibition at the Skirball Museum. Soon, our students will spread throughout the Midwest and South to lead Jewish congregations towards 5773. We wish them and our entire campus community a year of growth and blessings.

The fall semester at the Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles is in full swing, coming off a very busy summer. In the Rhea Hirsch School of Education, the graduation of ten DeLeT (Day School Leadership through Teaching) Fellows marked the program’s tenth anniversary. Ten students received Graduate Certificate degrees from our School of Jewish Nonprofit Management in a ceremony that featured an address by Larry S. Moses, Senior Philanthropic Advisor and President Emeritus of the Wexner Foundation and SJNM’s 2012 Rabbi Louis Bernstein Scholar-in-Residence.

We have had the pleasure of welcoming Lynn Kaye, our new Assistant Professor of Rabbinics; Rabbi Larry Scheindlin, Visiting Assistant Professor of Jewish Education;  Eileen Horowitz, DeLeT Education Director; and Dr. Roxie Esterle, DeLeT Academic Coordinator.

The campus itself is alive with art, featuring two Fall exhibitions. Greeting all comers to the Skirball Campus is the provocative outdoor/indoor sculpture installation by artist Marlene Louchheim titled “Commitments,” which will open on campus, with an artist’s presentation, on October 28 at 4pm. The Mercaz also features the group exhibit titled “Deeply Rooted,” offering meditations on the metaphor of the tree in our tradition.

At HUC-JIR/New York, the school kicked off a year-long celebration of “JIR at 90,” marking ninety years since the founding of the Jewish Institute of Religion by Rabbi Stephen S. Wise and the Free Synagogue.  In the spirit of our founders, the school began with an Orientation program that welcomed our new rabbinical, cantorial, and education students to our West Fourth Street home, while also engaging them immediately with Jewish life in the New York metropolitan area.  Students attended campus High Holy Day workshops, visited the Museum of Jewish Heritage, and attended Shabbat services and dinner at the Village Temple in Greenwich Village.

The Kallah, a three-day retreat in upstate New York, immediately followed, bringing together our faculty and new and returning students to begin the year by building relationships through study, prayer, and other activities aimed at creating a vibrant community.  Kallah focused on the theme of Gender and Judaism, and beautiful services were led by New York faculty and students through our Worship Working Group. There, we welcomed Dr. Judith Plaskow, our Rabbi Sally J. Priesand Visiting Professor of Jewish Women's Studies for the 2012-13 academic year.  

Back on campus, we rolled out the New York Entrepreneurial Grants Competition in a Goldner-Panken Symposium featuring Rabbi Michael Friedman, Associate Rabbi at Central Synagogue, and Steve Gruber, Managing Partner of Oak Hill Capital Partners and member of the Eastern Region Board of Overseers. "The campus is especially energized as we begin this academic year celebrating the ninetieth anniversary of the Jewish Institute of Religion," explains Rabbi Shirley Idelson, Dean. "In the spirit of our JIR founders, we started the year renewing our community of scholarship and prayer, while also addressing contemporary needs of the Jewish community, and tackling some hard issues."  

The week concluded with a celebratory barbecue on the roof of One West Fourth Street overlooking the Manhattan skyline.

May this be a year of wellbeing, fulfillment, and achievement to all!


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