Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso Receives Honorary Doctorate from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Rabbi David Ellenson, President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), awarded Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso with the Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, on Sunday, June 9, 2013 at the Graduation Ceremonies of HUC-JIR’s Cincinnati campus. 

Rabbi Ellenson stated, "Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso has played a pioneering leadership role in the Reconstructionist Movement.  She has nurtured the religious imagination of children through her gifted writing, while strengthening the spiritual lives of her congregation for nearly four decades."

Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso serves as Senior Rabbi of Congregation Beth-El Zedeck, Indianapolis.  Rabbi Sasso is active in the arts, civic and interfaith communities, and has written and lectured on women and spirituality and the discovery of the religious imagination in children. Rabbi Sasso received her B.A. magna cum laude and M.A. from Temple University. She was ordained from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 1974 and received her Doctor of Divinity after 25 years in the rabbinate. She is the recipient of a Doctorate of Ministry from Christian Theological Seminary, an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities from DePauw University, an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Butler University,an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Christian Theological Seminary, and an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Franklin College.

Rabbi Sasso is the author of the nationally acclaimed children’s books: God’s Paintbrush, In God’s Name, But God Remembered: Stories of Women from Creation to the Promised Land, Noah’s Wife: The Story of Naamah, God In Between, For Heaven’s Sake, God’s Paintbrush: A Celebration Kit, God Said Amen, Cain and Abel: Finding the Fruits of Peace, Adam and Eve’s First Sunset, Abuelita’s Secret Matzahs, Butterflies Under Our Hats, The Shema in the Mezuzah.

She is the 2004 recipient of the Helen Keating Ott Award for Outstanding Contribution to Children’s Literature and the 2005 Sugarman Family Award for Jewish Children’s Literature.  She is also co-editor of Nurturing Child and Adolescent Spirituality: Perspectives from the World’s Religious Traditions and editor of Urban Tapestry, Indianapolis Stories. Her newest book is God’s Echo: Exploring Scripture with Midrash.

Rabbi Sasso is the past chairperson and continues to serve on the advisory board of Spirit and Place, an annual festival in Indiana celebrating the Arts, Religion and Humanities. Rabbi Sasso has served on numerous boards in the civic and Jewish communities. She has been President of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, the Indianapolis Board of Rabbis and Gleaners Food Bank. Rabbi Sasso presently serves on the Board of Advisors of Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis, and the International Journal of Children’s Spirituality Editorial Board. She is a member of the Advisory Board of the Interfaith Hunger Initiative and a member of the Lake Family Institute Advisory Board. She is on the Rabbinic Advisory Committee for the Jewish Fund for Justice. 

Rabbi Sasso lectures in Religion and Judaism at Butler University and Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis.  She has been honored as one of the “Influential Women in Indiana” by the Indianapolis Business Journal and was featured among “Indy’s Most Influential Clergy” by NUVO News Weekly. She is the recipient of the “Sagamore of the Wabash”, the highest civilian honor awarded by the Governor of the State of Indiana. Rabbi Sasso was the first woman ordained from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and the first to serve a Conservative congregation together with her husband, Rabbi Dennis C. Sasso.

Click here to view the National Graduation and Ordination press release.


Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is the nation'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