COVID-19 – Planning and Preparedness - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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COVID-19 – Planning and Preparedness

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

The safety and wellbeing of our students, faculty, and staff are extremely important to us. Our senior management team is assessing the situation daily as it affects the HUC-JIR community by monitoring guidelines and recommendations from local, state and federal health officials.  We will continue to update the community as this evolving situation develops.



Status (As of April 21, 2020)

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, HUC will be taking the following steps to support our community and public health.

HUC Community: Suggestion Box

As we navigate this unprecidented moment and create new plans for our future, we welcome your ideas and input. Please submit your suggestions here

Students, Faculty, and Staff: Campus Closures and Town Hall Forum

Our campuses are closed through the end of May. If you require access to your campus, please be in touch with your dean and campus facilities manager. If you require online access to your campus library or reference assistance, please be in touch with your campus librarian. To address concerns in a transparent manner as one community, we are holding Town Hall Forums. We will use this Forum also to share news from all four campuses. To help us use this time most effectively, please email your questions or concerns to our team, in advance, at Please check your email for Zoom and call-in information.

Students and Faculty: Classes

Classes will continue to meet by Zoom through the end of the semester. Please direct your questions to your dean or program/school director. On March 23 and 31, all classes for all programs will be canceled, with the exception of the EMA and D.Min. Programs. These Pre-Pesach Microbreaks will give you the chance to catch your breath and catch up on your work. The semester will be extended by two days with the addition of classes on May 4 and 5, to make up for the cancellation of classes on March 23 and 31. Please stay tuned to adjustments to syllabi and assignments that will be made by faculty. Finals will now take place on May 13-14 instead of May 11-12. Students are advised to be in touch with their professors regarding revised deadlines for their final projects. The revised grade deadline for candidates for Graduation or Ordination has been moved from April 10 to April 24, to give students more time to complete their assignments and faculty more time to grade that work. The 2020-2021 Class Schedule will be available for viewing on April 13. Registration will open the following week. 

Staff: Working from Home and Revised Emergency Leave Policy

HUC-JIR continues to take precautions and actions to ensure the well-being of our faculty, staff and students following the protocols from health experts, the CDC and federal and state agencies. To that end, we are issuing a revised Emergency Leave Policy to reflect recent developments, as well as the recently enacted Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) Federal legislation, to ensure you have the support you need. This revised policy supersedes and replaces the Emergency Leave Policy issued on March 12, 2020 in its entirety effective April 1, 2020.  This policy applies to leave taken between April 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020, in accordance with the FFCRA.  We recognize that the provisions of the FFCRA are complex and we encourage you to speak with your supervisor if you have questions. Please see these links to the Department of Labor’s FFCRA notice and a FAQ.

Alumni: AlumniLearn Offerings

These are challenging times for each of us – personally, institutionally, and communally – but we can look to our HUC community of colleagues and friends for mutual support and reassurance. We invite you to join us for AlumniLearn sessions during this difficult moment. Please check your email for additional information. If you have any questions, contact us at

HUC Community: Graduation and Ordination

Unfortunately, due to current CDC recommendations, we have made the decision to postpone our in-person Graduation and Ordination Ceremonies. Both must be celebrated in an appropriate manner, and we will hold a ceremony in person as soon as it is safe and feasible to do so. Provost Weiss has been charged with appointing a Task Force of students and faculty to establish alternatives, and we plan to make a final decision by the end of Passover.  In the meantime, please hold the dates and times of your original Ordination and Graduation Ceremonies as scheduled.  This will allow the Task Force to retain the option of convening some kind of virtual ceremony at that time, should that be a path they want to pursue as part of an alternative approach.

HUC Supporters: Make Your Gift Online

Thank you for supporting HUC. While our campuses are closed, we ask you to make gifts online or by wire transfer:

HUC Community, Alumni, Supporters, and Friends: Online Learning Opportunities

We invite you to learn and connect with us. Please register today for upcoming virtual learning opportunities (and share with your friends and family!):


Support on Campus

We are here to offer support to all those experiencing concern:

  • Cincinnati: Rabbi Jonathan Hecht, Ph.D., Rabbi Julie Schwartz, Rabbi Jan Katzew, Rabbi Richard Sarason
  • Jerusalem: Rabbi Naamah Kelman, Rabbi Josh Herman, Nancy Lewitt
  • Los Angeles: Dr. Madelyn Katz
  • New York: Rabbi Nancy Wiener, D.Min.

Emergency Management Team

Reporting to the President

Chaired by Elizabeth M. Squadron, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and External Relations

Campus and Academic Leadership

Rabbi Andrea Weiss*, Ph.D., Provost
Rabbi David Adelson*, D.Min., Dean of the New York Campus
Rabbi Jonathan Hecht*, Ph.D., Dean of the Cincinnati Campus
Dr. Joshua Holo*, Dean of the Skirball Campus, Los Angeles
Rabbi Naamah Kelman*, Dean of the Taube Family Campus, Jerusalem
Rabbi Julie S. Schwartz, Associate Dean 

Academic Program Directors

Rabbi Talia Avnon-Benveniste, Director, Israel Rabbinical Program
Yoram Bitton, Director of Libraries 
Cantor Richard Cohn, Director, Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music 
Rabbi Lisa Grant, Ph.D, Director, Rabbinical Program, New York
Leah Hochman, Ph.D., Director, Louchheim School for Judaic Studies
Rabbi Jan Katzew, Ph.D., Director, Rabbinical Program, Cincinnati
Lesley Litman, Ph.D., Director, Executive M.A. Program in Jewish Education
Erik Ludwig, Ph.D., Director, Zelikow School of Jewish Nonprofit Management
David S. Mendelsson, Ph.D., Director, Year-In-Israel Program
Rabbi Richard Sarason, Ph.D., Director, Pines School of Graduate Studies
Miriam Heller Stern, Ph.D., Director, School of Education 
Rabbi Dvora E. Weisberg, Ph.D., Director, Rabbinical Program, Los Angeles
Rabbi Gary Zola, Ph.D., Executive Director, American Jewish Archives

Senior Administrative Leadership

Rabbi Adam Allenberg*, Senior Director of Admissions and Recruitment
Lissie Diringer*, Vice President of Institutional Advancement
Amy Goldberg*, Chief Financial Officer (as of May 4)
Michelle Slocum*, Controller 
Elizabeth M. Squadron*, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and External Relations

Additional Crisis Management Leadership

John Bruggeman, Director of Information Technology
Dganit Jenshil, Chief Operating Officer of the Taube Family Campus, Jerusalem                
Andrea Kann, Executive Secretary to the Board of Governors
Rabbi Elliott Kleinman, Chief Engagement Officer
Einav Lahav, Chief Financial Officer of the Taube Family Campus, Jerusalem
Jean Bloch Rosensaft, Assistant Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs
Nicole Vandestienne, Executive Administrator, Office of the President

*Members of the President's Cabinet



Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates leaders to serve 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 Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, museums, 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.