From the Dean - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
Skip to main content

From the Dean

Main Content

Welcome Home to Jerusalem…the eternal capital of the Jewish People, wherever they are…and at its heart is situated the magnificent campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

When our first building, designed by architect Heinz Rau, was built in the early 1960’s with its back toward the Old City, then under Jordanian rule, it was considered dangerous to be situated there. But President Nelson Glueck envisioned a Jerusalem reconnected one day and placed us at the threshold of that dream. In 1967, the reunification of Jerusalem became a reality, and HUC-JIR expanded, both in programs and facilities. Today, our glistening campus, designed by architect Moshe Safdie, is an exquisite oasis of buildings, courtyards, and gardens, with five leadership training programs and thousands of Israelis and visitors from abroad coming to a broad range of activities, including lectures, symposia, and special events.

You are invited to enter through our archways and gates:

The Gate of Torah:  

Each year, we welcome the incoming class of first-year students in our stateside rabbinical, cantorial, education, and joint Masters in Jewish nonprofit management programs to a year of Hebrew immersion and study of the foundational courses in Bible, Rabbinics, and Liturgy, the Richard J. Scheuer Israel Seminar, and courses in Israeli and Zionist Studies. In addition to the formal courses, our students explore the Land of Israel, her history, archeology, and culture. The Israeli Rabbinical Program has ordained over 80 students since the 1980's; they are creating the blossoming Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism. Formal courses, field work, and worship build the professional, spiritual, and academic capacities of our students in this four-year program. Our joint program with the Hebrew University's Melton Centre offers a unique MA in Pluralistic Jewish Education. Now recruiting the fourth cohort, we are training master teachers and leading Israeli educators to think and work in the language of pluralism.

The Gate of Tefillah (Worship):

Our Murstein Synagogue is open to the public, particularly visiting Reform congregations and other visitors on Shabbat. Over the High Holy Days we welcome tourists and local residents for an inspiring Yom Kippur Service overlooking the walls of the Old City, with the inspiring voices of our cantorial, rabbinical, and education students. All of our students in all our programs begin their weekly studies with a prayer service or creative "tefillah/reflection." For some of our Israelis this can be challenging, as they search for new expressions in liturgy appropriate to Israeli culture.

The Gate of Rachamim (Compassion):

The Blaustein Center for Spiritual Counseling and Care is a pioneering effort to establish Spiritual Care in Israel. The Blaustein Center’s two programs, now in their fourth cohorts, attract professionals in the helping professions. Physicians, nurses, therapists, and rabbis are trained in our Mezorim (Balms) program, built on the foundations of Clinical Pastoral Education, while teachers and educators enroll in Sugiyot Chaim (Lifetexts) to gain insight and practical techniques for transforming text study into psycho-dynamic group study.

The Gate of Tikvah (Hope):

Increasingly, we are attracting our own younger generation of Israelis who have grown up in the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism for young leadership training and outreach activities. Our Tenufa program brings these young emerging leaders in their 20s  to study, share practices, and meet leading professionals in the area of social change, as they take their first professional steps. Some of the Tenufa graduates come back to campus to run outreach activities, so that the next generation will discover us in Jerusalem.

The Gate of Yetzirah (Creativity):

Our Jerusalem-based faculty has enriched the Jewish bookshelf with research, books, and anthologies in a myriad of subjects, from Modern Jewish Thought, Rabbinic Literature, and Liturgy, to Modern Jewish History and Jewish Education. They participate in conferences all over the world to share their work, insight, and path-breaking scholarship. Book launches and conferences are sponsored on campus to promote and disseminate this work. In addition, we offer forums and other public programs in areas of concern, including the annual Abramov Lecture on Religion and State.

The Gate of Madah (Inquiry):

The Abramov Library houses over 40,000 books and periodicals for all our students, as well as many local scholars and students. It is our pleasure to open our library doors to all. The Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archeology continues to research and publish the results of decades of excavations at Tel Dan and elsewhere. Our popular archaeology lecture series attracts many regulars. In addition, our Skirball Museum of Biblical Archaeology tells the story of our digs at Tel Dan and Tel Gezer (by appointment only).

The Gate of Shalom:

It is our hope and prayer that our campus should serve as  an oasis of peace and engagement -- for interfaith gatherings and meetings of disparate groups, and as a home for large cross-sections of Israeli society as well as world Jewry. We are the home in Israel for all the leading Reform organizations: NFTY, the Israel Religious Action Center, the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, and the World Union for Progressive Judaism. Living together on one campus, we model cooperation and synergy. This is indeed the home of Reform Jewry worldwide. Come visit us!