Updates from the Taube Family Campus in Jerusalem

HUC-JIR in Solidarity with Israel

Prioritizing Well-being in Challenging Times

Caring for our community during war.

Faculty, students, and staff on the Taube Family Campus in Jerusalem are working hard to sustain our campus community. Our priority has been the physical, mental, and spiritual well-being of our students and our entire HUC-JIR Jerusalem family during this difficult time of war.

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Updates on the Crisis in Israel

Our priority has been the physical, mental, and spiritual well-being of our students and our entire HUC-JIR Jerusalem family during this difficult time of war.

  • The Year-in-Israel (YII) Program resumed full in-person learning with the start of the second semester.
  • The Israel Rabbinical Program (IRP) has resumed with a modified hybrid schedule.
  • Rikma began at the end of December in accordance with Hebrew University’s adjusted calendar. Students are meeting for supplemental sessions as well as volunteer opportunities in the meantime.
  • Sugiyot Chayim has resumed a full-time schedule.
  • Teachers’ Lounge remains paused until further notice.

Updated 1/22/24

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HUC Connect Inside Israel graphic

Faculty Provide Insight and Support to Communities Across the World

HUC-JIR faculty leaders have been providing expertise, resources, and insights to communities across the globe.

HUC-JIR Faculty on the Israel-Hamas War

1/25 The Times of Israel

Sarah Bunin Benor, Ph.D., Vice Provost and Professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies reflects on her experience as part of HUC-JIR’s delegation to Israel.
Read more.

1/11 Jewish Journal

Steven Windmueller, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of Jewish Communal Service, unpacks what has transpired since Oct. 7 to define the nature and scope of changes unfolding over these past three months.
Read more.

1/10 eJewish Philanthropy

Steven Windmueller, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of Jewish Communal Service, writes, “Since Oct. 7, Jewish professionals have been called upon to demonstrate a different type of leadership as we continue to grapple with our own personal responses to the events unfolding in Israel.” Read as he describes 10 principles for leadership in a post-Oct. 7 world.
Read more.

12/11 eJewish Philanthropy

Emeritus Professor Steven Windmueller, Ph.D. questions if the past offers us any insight into the mindset of those who remain undeterred in their vocal opposition to Israel and the present war.
Read more.

12/1 HUC-JIR

Dr. Sivan Zakai, the Sara S. Lee Associate Professor of Jewish Education, and a thought leader in Jewish education with expertise in Israel education, has emerged as a “go-to” expert for those working to balance their own emotions while simultaneously addressing the needs of the children in their lives.
Read more.

11/30 HUC-JIR

Dr. Ruhama Weiss, Director of the Blaustein Center in Jerusalem, hosted a webinar entitled “Coping with Trauma in a Violent Reality” that drew more than 1,200 attendees from over a dozen countries.
Read more.

11/21 Times of Israel

Emeritus Professor Steven Windmueller unpacks the November 14th Solidarity Rally for Israel.
Read more.

11/20 PJ Library

Sivan Zakai, Ph.D., Sara S. Lee Associate Professor of Jewish Education, shares a 3-step process about how to approach children’s big questions and why listening to children’s questions is often more important than giving children specific answers to those questions. Dr. Zakai is a social scientist who studies Jewish children’s ideas and beliefs about Israel and has studied children’s big and difficult questions during every Israel-Gaza war since 2012.
Read more.

11/19 Times of Israel

Emeritus Professor Steven Windmueller’s latest Times of Israel Blog discusses Jewish political behavior since the outbreak of the war.
Read more.

11/16 Jerusalem Post

In what is believed to be the first visit to Israel by the head of an American academic institution since the war began, President Rehfeld visited Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and met with BGU president Prof. Daniel Chamovitz who described it as “a poignant demonstration of solidarity.”
Read more.

11/15 Jewish Journal

Emeritus Professor Steven Windmueller discusses where the US could be in support of Israel if in the future there is another crisis demanding American support for Israel and Jews.
Read more.

11/13 JNS

President Rehfeld had a wonderful visit with Daniel Chamovitz, President of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. “I think it’s particularly important for presidents of universities around the world to show solidarity by coming, by visiting, by messaging…” said Rehfeld.
Read more.

11/9 HUC-JIR

From activism to emergency aid: a movement pivots to meet the moment in Israel. A pro-democracy movement became a buzzing volunteer hub with Professor Michal Muszkat-Barkan’s leadership and our ongoing commitment to civil society and pluralism.
Read more.

10/30 HUC Connect

During this moment of trauma and heightened concern, Jewish children are grappling with how to process the terrible things happening in the world and need support from the adults in their lives. Dr. Sivan Zakai, Sara S. Lee Associate Professor of Jewish Education, Rabbi Rebecca Milder ’07, and Rabbi Rebecca Rosenthal speak with Dr. Joshua Holo, Vice President of Academic Resources, to contemplate what it looks like to support Jewish children and families, review “best practices,” and discuss the ways in which Jewish institutions and organizations are contributing to these efforts. Watch the recording.

10/20 Jewish Journal

Lisa Ansell, lecturer of Modern Hebrew, suggests that in addition to donating, we learn Hebrew to send letters of support to Israeli soldiers and surviving families. She writes, “What a powerful message it would send to our brothers and sisters fighting for our very existence if they were to receive letters and channels of communication in Hebrew… from across the world.” Read more.

10/20 Jewish Journal

Emeritus Professor Steven Windmueller, Ph.D. published this Op-Ed on the importance of supporting one another, particularly the younger generation, on how to make the case for Israel. Read more.

10/18 The iCenter

Lesley Litman, Ed.D., Director of the Executive M.A. Program in Jewish Education, emphasizes the importance of categorizing and naming children’s questions during times of uncertainty and fear to help us respond more effectively. Read more.

10/18 HUC-JIR

Ruhama Weiss, Associate Professor of Talmud and Spiritual Care, describes how she and the Blaustein Center are supporting students and alumni through conversations, workshops, and more. Read more.

10/18 JNS

Emeritus Professor Steven Windmueller, says that the first instance of a sitting U.S. president visiting Israel during wartime indicates overwhelming American support for Israel, but that it remains to be seen what the short and long-term effects might be. Read more.

10/13 CNN

Michal Muszkat-Barkan, Ph.D., Head of Education and Professional Development Department, has been an active leader in the protests for democracy in Israel. She is now working to help people who have been impacted by the attacks, their families, and soldiers. Read more.

10/12 NPR

Sivan Zakai, Ph.D., Sara S. Lee Associate Professor of Jewish Education, was interviewed in this episode of NPR’s Life Kit on how to talk to children about the violence in Israel and Gaza.
Read more.

10/11 Jewish Journal

On college campuses, “Students are struggling this week as they uncomfortably enter class and are seated next to these individuals whose silence has been felt and heard,” Emeritus Professor Steven Windmueller, Ph.D. writes in a piece in the Jewish Journal.
Read more.

10/11 eJewish Philanthropy

Dr. Betsy Stone, retired psychologist and adjunct lecturer at HUC-JIR, shares general principles of difficult conversations which are helpful in discussing the tragic events of this past week in Israel with children. Read more.

10/11 Jewish Journal

Sivan Zakai, Ph.D., Sara S. Lee Associate Professor of Jewish Education, writes to guide educators, clergy, and parents about how to speak to children about current events in Israel, “Children need adult guidance in helping them understand both the context and the consequences of violent current events. Yet adults who offer that guidance must do so without undermining the magic of childhood.” Read more.

10/11 NPR

Sivan Zakai, Ph.D., Sara S. Lee Associate Professor of Jewish Education, spoke with NPR about how to talk with children about the current situation in Israel. “It’s important for parents and guardians to know that it’s OK if they don’t have all the answers… Children have a beautiful ability — one that adults sometimes lack — to look head on in the face of violence and still believe in the bottom of their hearts in the future possibility of peace and of coexistence and of resolution to this conflict.” Read more.

eJewish Philanthropy

Emeritus Professor Steven Windmueller shares his thoughts on the events continuing to unfold in Israel. Read more.

10/9 Kveller

The unfolding tragedy in Israel is hard to comprehend, but every child deserves an age-appropriate and honest conversation. Sivan Zakai, Ph.D., Sara S. Lee Associate Professor of Jewish Education, shares how parents can talk with their children about the current situation in Israel. Read more.

10/8 Times of Israel

Emeritus Professor Steven Windmueller writes, “In this moment, we are reminded of the Talmudic notion that ‘all Israel is responsible one for other.’ We find ourselves returning to the core principles of this partnership.” Read more.

1/5 eJewish Philanthropy

Rabbi Daniel A. Weiner ’91 of Temple De Hirsch Sinai in Seattle writes about the importance of reassessing our educational vision and curricula and bringing Israel more integrally into the lives of young Jews.
Read more.

From the HUC-JIR Community

1/4 Facebook

Fourth-year rabbinical student CJ Mays participated in a trip to Israel as a Leffel Rabbinic Student Fellow with AIPAC. Read his post to learn about the powerful experience.
Read more.

12/6 URJ

Rachel Margolis, RJE ’07 writes, “Instead of turning inward and only speaking with those we know align with our own ideas, it is now more critical than ever to keep dialogue open – especially with those we may disagree with.” She offers a guide with some frameworks and shared agreements for structured group conversation.
Read more.

11/27 eJewish Philanthropy

Rabbi Eve Rudin Kleinman, RJE ’00, director of education, youth and families at Larchmont Temple in Westchester, NY writes that Jewish educators “must equip ourselves with the reflection tools and emotional support for what is taking place now. We must also advance — through think tanks, research, trips to Israel and professional development programs — a post-Oct. 7 approach to Jewish identity formation.”
Read more.

11/15 JNS

Third-year rabbinical student and March for Israel attendee Tori Greene said, “It felt like an important opportunity for me to speak up against antisemitism and call for the hostages to return home. I knew it was going to be something historic. Forever, I will be able to say, ‘I was there.’”
Read more.

11/15 Torah to the People podcast

On Torah To the People, a podcast by Temple Israel (Memphis), Rabbi Jeff Dreifus ’17 and fourth-year Israel Rabbinical Program student Josh Scharff discuss Josh’s formative years in St. Louis and at Yale University, what led him to want to be an Israeli Reform rabbi, how he experienced the October 7 attacks from Tel Aviv, the implications of this war for Israel’s future, how this moment is experienced in the Jewish diaspora, and the roots of the anti-Israel and antisemitic response on college campuses and the American political left.
Read more.

11/9 Lilith

Jean Bloch Rosensaft, Director of the Heller Museum, writes that the Jerusalem Biennale, postponed in Israel due to the war, opened several exhibitions internationally in the home cities of its artists and curators, including at the Heller Museum in partnership with the Jewish Art Salon and American Sephardi Federation.
Read more.

11/8 HUC-JIR

Jewish communities across the world have come together to mourn, pray, and support one another while standing in solidarity with Israel. HUC-JIR alumni have been leaders in this time of processing and response.
Read more.

10/26 eJewish Philanthropy

Rabbi Liz P.G. Hirsch ’15, Executive Director of Women of Reform Judaism, describes the importance of strategic, long-term partnerships in grant-making and supporting Israel right now. Read more.

10/25 JTA

JTA News reports on how clergy have gone about conducting weddings in the shadow of the deadliest attack on Jewish people since the Holocaust. HUC-JIR alumni Rabbi Leora Frankel ’12 of Larchmont Temple, Cantor Dana S. Anesi, D.Min. ’80, ’10, director of fieldwork at HUC-JIR, Rabbi Craig Axler ’03 and Rabbi Amanda K. Weiss ’14, ’23 of Temple Isaiah, and Rabbi Karen Perolman ’10 of Temple B’nai Jeshurun share their experiences. Read more.

10/25 Lilith Magazine

Rabbi Jen Gubitz ’12 shares a powerful poem. It begins:
I’m sitting on Noah’s ark.
He let me board early.
After the animals come on safely,
I bring my loved ones
into the rooms of my heart
as the sky pours out her tears. Read more.

10/24 Live Happy Now Podcast

Rabbi Matt Derrenbacher ’23 is a guest on the Live Happy Now podcast, discussing finding happiness in hard times right now. Read more.

10/24 Times of Israel

Noah Efron writes, “At a time like this, I need other people to help me think straight.” These people are Rabbis Angela Buchdahl ’99, ’01 of Central Synagogue, Sharon Brous of IKAR, and Rachel Timoner ’09 of Congregation Beth Elohim.” Read more.

10/18 Jewish Insider

Rabbi Angela Buchdahl ’99, ’01, senior rabbi at Central Synagogue, Rabbi Rachel Timoner ’09, senior rabbi at Congregation Beth Elohim; and Rabbi Rick Jacobs ’82, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, are a few of the several Jewish leaders quoted in this piece highlighting unity amongst Jewish institutions in support of Israel. Read more.

10/16 Student Blog

Israel Rabbinical Program student Josh Scharff shares thoughts about a few conceptions and paradigms that Israelis and Jews around the world have held that have been turned upside down over the last week. Read more.

10/14 Times of Israel

The work of Rabbi Josh Franklin ’10, 13, Cantor Debra Stein ’86, and Rabbi Dan Geffen ’12, ’14 are highlighted in this piece about a rally in solidarity with Israel at the Jewish Center of the Hamptons. Read more.

10/12 The Forward

Topeka’s Jewish community dates back to the mid-19th century, but today it is largely confined to Temple Beth Sholom-Topeka led by Rabbi Samuel Stern ’21. As “one of many congregations across the country that are trying to help their members grapple with the tragedy” they expected a bigger Friday night crowd and hired extra security. Read more.

10/11 WLWT

Third-year Ph.D. student Christopher Beecher is interviewed by WLWT about the war in Israel. He says, “You’re filled with all these different emotions at the same time — sadness, frustration, anger, of course, despair.” Read more.

10/9 JTA

Rabbinical students of US seminaries recount their experiences in Israel over the last few days, including second-year HUC-JIR rabbinical student Shayna Dollinger. Read more.

Faculty Experts