Andrew Rehfeld, Ph.D. to Be Inaugurated as 10th President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

September 24, 2019

October 27th Inauguration in Cincinnati – Historic Birthplace of Reform Judaism and Huc-Jir, Established in 1875

Andrew Rehfeld, Ph.D., will be inaugurated as the 10th President in the 144-year history of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), the academic and professional leadership center of Reform Judaism, on Sunday, October 27, 2019, at 10:30 am at Cincinnati’s landmark Isaac M. Wise / K.K. B’nai Yeshurun / Plum Street Temple. The Inauguration will be attended by the international leaders of the Reform Movement, dignitaries from international academic institutions and organizations, communal and civic leaders of Cincinnati, alumni, faculty, and students.

A distinguished academic, President Rehfeld brings distinctive intellectual, spiritual, and professional qualities to lead the College-Institute’s mission to transform the Jewish community and the broader world. His passion for teaching and scholarship, as well as exemplary leadership skills, have set him apart as a dynamic visionary and community builder. His deep personal commitment to Reform Judaism and Jewish values, profound understanding of the impact of nonprofit Jewish institutions, and entrepreneurial spirit of innovation will lead HUC-JIR to greater excellence.

Dr. Rehfeld has bridged both the academic and Jewish worlds as Assistant Professor of Political Science (2001 to 2007) and Associate Professor of Political Science (2007 to 2019) at Washington University in St. Louis and as President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis (2012 to 2019). A tenured Professor of Political Thought at HUC-JIR, he contributes an unusual combination of teaching and scholarship, experience in Jewish nonprofit administration, and volunteer community leadership to the College-Institute.

President Rehfeld earned a Ph.D. in Political Science (2000) and a Master of Public Policy (1994) from the University of Chicago, and a B.A., Phi Beta Kappa, in the Philosophy Honors Program at the University of Rochester (1989). The author of The Concept of Constituency (Cambridge University Press, 2005) and numerous articles, Dr. Rehfeld’s research focuses on contemporary democratic theory with related interests in the history of political thought and the philosophy of the social sciences. He has published on the political uses of the Hebrew Bible and has taught yearly courses on Zionism and Jewish Political Thought at Washington University in St. Louis.

Dr. Rehfeld stated, “I am thrilled by the opportunity to work collaboratively with a dynamic professional team of deans, program directors, academic administrators, and faculty across all four campuses to shape the future of professional Jewish leadership by inspiring, educating, and learning from a new generation of students.  These are challenging times that HUC-JIR, as a multi-faceted institution of higher education, is well suited to address.  I can only hope to live up to the historic legacy of transformational leadership that characterized those who held this position before me, from Isaac Mayer Wise and Stephen S. Wise to David Ellenson and Aaron Panken.  I am honored to serve as the President of HUC-JIR.”

As HUC-JIR President, Dr. Rehfeld leads the four-campus international institution of Jewish higher education and seminary for Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR’s campuses in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York provide the academic and professional training programs for the Reform Movement’s rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offer graduate programs for scholars of all faiths.

HUC-JIR’s 4,000 active alumni serve over one million members of the Reform Movement, nearly 900 North American congregations, and more than 1,200 congregations worldwide, representing the largest Jewish denomination in North America, and the growing Progressive Movement in Israel and around the world. HUC-JIR alumni also hold leadership positions in Jewish educational, communal, cultural, and social service institutions, in hospital and military chaplaincies, in Jewish summer camping and Israel youth and engagement programs, and as faculty and Hillel directors at colleges and universities.

Read more about Andrew Rehfeld, Ph.D.
Contact: Jean Rosensaft, 212-824-2209;

About Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Hebrew Union College was established in 1875 in Cincinnati by Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, the founder of American Reform Judaism, and is the first institution of higher Jewish education in America. Rabbi Panken’s predecessors include Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise (1875-1900); Acting President Rabbi Moses Mielziner (1900-1903); Acting President Rabbi Gotthard Deutsch (1903); Rabbi Kaufman Kohler (1903-1921); and Rabbi Julian Morgenstern (1921-1947), who rescued scholars and students from Nazi Europe. The Jewish Institute of Religion was founded in 1922 in New York by Rabbi Stephen S. Wise (1922-1948), a pioneer of the American Zionist Movement and a social justice activist.  The merger of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion took place in 1948, headed by Dr. Nelson Glueck (1947-1971), a renowned biblical archaeologist who established HUC-JIR’s campuses in Los Angeles (1954) and Jerusalem (1963). He was succeeded by Dr. Alfred Gottschalk (1971-1996); Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman (1996-2000); Acting President Norman J. Cohen (2000-2001); Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D. (2001-2013), who also served as Interim President (2014-15) and now serves as Chancellor Emeritus; and Rabbi Aaron Panken, Ph.D. (2014-18).

Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is the nation’s premier institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism.  HUC-JIR educates leaders for service to American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars of all faiths.  With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR’s scholarly resources comprise its 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 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 history, identity, art, and archaeology, and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding.