Inauguration of the Rabbi David Ellenson Chair in Jewish Religious Thought

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Rabbi David Ellenson Chair in Jewish Religious Thought was inaugurated with Rabbi Rachel Adler, Ph.D., during the Board of Governors Shacharit Service on February 11, 2013 at the Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles.

Rabbi David Ellenson, President, stated, "I am deeply touched that the College-Institute has established this Chair and grateful to Leona Aronoff-Sadacca, a member of the Western Region Board of Overseers, and other individual benefactors and friends for their generosity in supporting this wonderful honor.  It is altogether fitting that the inaugural recipient of this Chair is Rabbi Rachel Adler, Ph.D., a world-renown scholar and pioneering feminist theologian. Dr. Adler’s expertise in the areas of Jewish feminist theology and ethics, Judaism and gender; women, religion, and sexuality; and theologies of pain, suffering and loss enriches the studies of our students and the thought leadership of the Reform Movement.”

Rabbi Rachel Adler, Ph.D.,Professor of Modern Jewish Thought and Feminist Studies at HUC-JIR/Jack H. Skirball Campus/Los Angeles is recognized as one of the first theologians to integrate feminist perspectives and concerns into the interpretation of Jewish texts and the renewal of Jewish law and ethics. Her essay “The Jew Who Wasn’t There” (1971) is generally considered the first piece of Jewish feminist theology. She is the author of Engendering Judaism (1999), for which she was awarded the first National Jewish Book Award for Jewish Thought ever presented to a female theologian.

Professor Adler was a contributor and on the editorial board of The Torah: A Women’s Commentary (URJ Press, 2007) and wrote on the book of Leviticus for the 2009 weekly commentary “Reform Voices of Torah.” Her current articles are to be found in Chapters of the Heart, edited by Sue Levi Elwell and Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer; Making A Difference: Essays on the Bible and Judaism in Honor of Tamara Cohn Eskenazi, edited by David J.A. Clines, Kent Harold Richards, and Jacob L. Wright; CCAR Journal (Fall 2012); Judaism and Health: A Handbook of Practical, Professional, and Scholarly Resources, edited by Michele Prince; AJS Perspectives; and The Jewish Political Tradition (Volume 3), edited by Michael Walzer, Menachem Lorberbaum, et al. She is currently working on an article on J.B. Soloveitchik’s conflicted view of Jewish women and an article on the feminism of Eliezer Berkovits. Professor Adler serves on the editorial boards of Tikkun and Nashim.

Dr. Adler received her Ph.D. in Religion and Social Ethics from the University of Southern California with a joint certificate in Judaica from HUC-JIR, M.A. in English Literature from Northwestern University, and Masters degree in Social Work from the University of Minnesota. She was ordained as a rabbi by HUC-JIR in 2012.

Dr. Adler inaugurates the Rabbi David Ellenson Chair in Jewish Religious Thought, which was established in tribute to Rabbi David Ellenson, N ‘77, Ph.D., HUC-JIR President, with a lead gift from Leona Aronoff-Sadacca, a member of the Western Region Board of Overseers, and the generous participation of other individual benefactors.


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