Rabbi Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi, Ph.D. Appointed National Director of Admissions and Recruitment and President’s Scholar at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Monday, February 25, 2013

Rabbi Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi, Ph.D. has been appointed National Director of Recruitment and Admissions and President’s Scholar at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion as of July 1, 2013.

Dr. Michael Marmur, Vice President for Academic Affairs, stated, “Rabbi Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi, Ph.D., is in the first rank of Reform thinkers and possesses a rare combination of intellectual and organizational talents. She is exactly the kind of person we want out in the field inspiring the finest women and men of their generation to apply to our various programs. Bringing Dr. Sabath onto our team strengthens our planning for the future of professional Jewish leadership and gives powerful expression to what the College-Institute is all about – seriousness of purpose and the pursuit of excellence coupled with the pursuit of meaning. Special mention should be made of the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati, whose partnership has been of transformative significance in allowing us to maximize our recruitment efforts for the benefit of all our programs and campuses.”

Rabbi Sabath's appointment is made possible by The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati, which has established ground-breaking programs to connect HUC-JIR to the community with a transformative five-year, $5.225 million grant. This significant investment enables HUC-JIR to enhance its rabbinical student curriculum and to focus more of its resources on serving the Cincinnati Jewish community. This grant funding is being used to create a new Cincinnati-based Office of Recruitment and Community Engagement, which will function both to increase rabbinical student enrollment in Cincinnati by approximately 50% over the next five years, and to serve as a clearinghouse for the deployment of HUC-JIR’s resources to serve local Jewish needs. A portion of the grant supports the development of the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati Fellows Program – an advanced service learning curriculum that will dispatch rabbinical students to help build capacity and serve community needs through paid internships at local Jewish institutions.

Rabbi David Ellenson, HUC-JIR President, noted, “We are enormously grateful to The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati for its visionary commitment to sustain Jewish leadership and learning by ensuring the vitality of our institution and the larger Cincinnati Jewish community. This grant will have an extraordinary impact on our Cincinnati campus, our entire institution, and on the next generations of Jewish leaders for the Reform Movement and the Jewish people throughout North America, Israel, and around the world.”

Dr. Sabath is a Senior Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute, where she has also served as Vice President and Director of Rabbinic Leadership Programs. Concurrently, she has taught for over a decade at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem. She currently writes a regular column in the Jerusalem Post and the Times of Israel.

Ordained at HUC-JIR in New York in 1995, Rabbi Sabath earned a doctorate in Jewish Philosophy from the Jewish Theological Seminary, where she wrote her dissertation on the covenant theology of Eugene Borowitz. For nearly two decades, she has directed national and international leadership study programs for rabbis and lay leaders of all denominations at the Hartman Institute and previously at CLAL: The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. She is a Wexner Foundation graduate alumna and served Congregation Shirat HaYam on Nantucket Island seasonally for twelve years.

The co-author of two books, Preparing Your Heart for the High Holidays and Striving Toward Virtue, Rabbi Sabath has published numerous articles on Jewish peoplehood, theology, Israel, and gender. She is currently writing a book on the thought of David Hartman, Yitz Greenberg and Eugene Borowitz. She speaks throughout North America and Israel. A native of Minnesota, she is an alumna of URJ camp OSRUI, a former NFTY National Vice President, and a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Before beginning her rabbinical training, she served as a program director at the San Francisco Hillel.

For the last twelve years, she has lived outside Jerusalem with her husband Rabbi Ofer Sabath Beit-Halachmi, ordained at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem in 2005, who served as the spiritual leader of Kehillat Tzur Hadassah for the last eight years. They have three children: Tehillah, Yedidya and Ben-Yishai.

Deborah Shapiro Abelson will continue to serve as National Director of Recruitment and Admissions until the end of June 2013, and will continue as a valued part of the Recruitment and Admissions team based on HUC-JIR’s Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles.


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