Hebrew Union College (HUC) was founded in 1875 by Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise. Located in Cincinnati, it was the first institution of higher Jewish education in North America. HUC also played a pivotal role in the continued growth of Rabbi Wise’s Reform movement. Wise saw the great need for American rabbis, which led to the founding of the college. His vision was to create a progressive Jewish seminary in America. In 1950, Hebrew Union College merged with the Jewish Institute of Religion in New York, an organization committed to helping and educating all Jews. Over the past 140 years, HUC-JIR has been the hub of Reform Jewish higher education, spreading to an additional three campuses in New York, Los Angeles, and Jerusalem. HUC-JIR will have forever left its mark, not only on Cincinnati history, but American Jewish history.
The centennial anniversary of Hebrew Union College in 1975 brought about several celebrations and gifts to the institution. Many of the objects donated at that time are housed in the Cincinnati Skirball Museum’s collection, and are used on special occasions for the college community. One such object is a brilliant red Torah cover, or mantle
, a cloth that covers the Torah scroll to both protect and beautify it. This mantle was a gift from the faculty and students in 1975 in commemoration of theone hundredth anniversary of HUC. The mantle is red velvet with gold and bronze embroidery. The HUC logo is featured, along with the Centennial dates. The Hebrew says: Hatom Torah Belimudae
: "Seal the instruction among my disciples" (Isa. 8:16) and Haboker Or
: "The morning's light" (Gen. 44:3). This mantle was used, along with the Weinberg Torah which was featured in the January 2015 Object of the Month
, at the Inauguration of HUC-JIR’s new president, Rabbi Aaron D. Panken in June of last year.
This remarkable piece of American Jewish history is fitting for the month of May, when we celebrate Jewish American Heritage and the people who have helped weave the fabric of American history, culture, and society. Visit www.jahm.us
for more information about Jewish American Heritage Month.