ADA Version of Chronicle #59 – Fall 2001
HEBREW UNION COLLEGE – JEWISH INSTITUTE OF RELIGION/2001 ISSUE 59
Dr. David Ellenson: 8th President of HUC-JIR
Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert Praises HUC-JIR Year-in-Israel Students
No Would-Be Jewish Leader Should Avoid Sharing Israel’s Joys and Sorrows
ESSAYS ON JUDAISM AND TIME, IN CELEBRATION OF HUC-JIR’S 125TH ANNIVERSARY
The Sabbath: A Taste of the Timeless
Dr. Norman J. Cohen
Time and the Sacred
Dr. Richard S. Sarason
Alter and Heschel on Time
Rabbi Michael Marmur
A Century and More: Hebrew Poetry and the Swift Chariot
Dr. William Cutter
Meet the Newest Members of HUC-JIR’s Faculty
Recruiting Reform Leaders of Tomorrow
HUC-JIR’S NEWEST CENTERS FOR TRAINING, OUTREACH, AND RESEARCH
Psychodynamics and Pastoral Counseling: The Blaustein Center for Pastoral Counseling
The Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health
Teaching Tolerance: The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education
Teaching Students How to Transform Their Synagogues: The Synagogue 2000 Approach
HUC-JIR and Faculty Publications
New… the HUC-JIR Website: www.huc.edu, HUCNews and HUC-NY Update:
The HUC-JIR website is being redesigned to offer up-to-date information on our academic and professional programs, community educational and cultural offerings, research centers, and more…You will find directories for faculty and administration, the national calendar of events, news postings, online exhibitions, and the complete HUC-JIR academic catalog plus links to our Reform Movement partners.
If you would like to be the first to receive HUC-JIR’s news, please subscribe to our new e-mail news service, HUCNews, by e-mailing your address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The Chronicle is published by the National Office of Public Affairs.
Editor: Jean Bloch Rosensaft
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Photo credits: Ariel Jerozolimski, Richard Lobell, Marvin Steindler
Archaeology Links Jerusalem and Cincinnati
Dr. Ira and Judith Gall, founding benefactors, at the dedication of The Archaeology Center at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati. The Archaeology Center is a multi-purpose facility housing an artifact study collection representing the material culture of ancient Canaan and Israel. The study of archaeology is an important component in the historical investigation of ancient Israelite culture and its Near Eastern context and, as such, an integral part of the Biblical Studies program of the Rabbinical and Graduate School curricula at HUC-JIR.
Isadore E. Millstone and first-year rabbinical student Amy Feder, both from St. Louis, in the Archaeological Garden at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem, a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Isadore E. Millstone.
Dr. David Ellenson, 8th President of HUC-JIR
The Board of Governors of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) has unanimously elected Dr. David Ellenson to serve as the new President. The announcement was made by Burton Lehman, Chair of HUC-JIR’s Board of Governors.
As President, Dr. Ellenson serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the College-Institute – the four-campus, international university which is the academic and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. Dr. Ellenson, who was ordained at HUC-JIR in 1977, is the 8th President in its 125 yearlong history, and succeeds Dr. Norman J. Cohen, Acting President and Provost.
“We are proud that Dr. Ellenson has accepted our invitation and welcome his presidency with great enthusiasm,” stated Mr. Lehman. “Dr. Ellenson is a distinguished rabbi and scholar, dedicated teacher, and committed leader of the Reform Movement. Associated with HUC-JIR for nearly 30 years, Dr. Ellenson is a beloved teacher and mentor to generations of HUC-JIR students. He is internationally recognized for his publications and research in the area of Jewish religious thought, ethics, and modern Jewish history. His exemplary leadership and passionate commitment to Reform Judaism and the Jewish people worldwide will inspire HUC-JIR’s growth in the 21st century. In selecting this eminent rabbi and scholar as President for this institution, we are proud to demonstrate the excellence of HUC-JIR’s intellectual and religious mission.”
“I am greatly honored to be called to serve as the President of HUC-JIR and pledge to advance the definition and fulfillment of its sacred mission. The College-Institute is a precious intellectual and religious resource for the ongoing life of the Reform Movement and the Jewish people. I hope to inspire others to aid in the cooperative task of building and sustaining this institution as a source for good and blessing in the world,” stated Dr. Ellenson.
Dr. Ellenson is the I.H. and Anna Grancell Professor of Jewish Religious Thought at HUC-JIR in Los Angeles. A member of HUC-JIR’s faculty since 1979, he has served as Lecturer, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor of Jewish Religious Thought. From 1981-1997, he also held the post of Director of the Jerome H. Louchheim School of Judaic Studies. Dr. Ellenson received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1981 and was ordained a rabbi at HUC-JIR’s New York School in 1977. He holds masters degrees from Columbia, HUC-JIR, and the University of Virginia. He received his bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary in Virginia in 1969.
Dr. Ellenson is a Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute of Jerusalem and a Fellow and Lecturer in the Institute of Advanced Studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He has served as Visiting Professor of History at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, Lady Davis Visiting Professor of Humanities in the Department of Jewish Thought at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Visiting Professor in the Center for Jewish Studies and a member of the Near Eastern Languages and Cultures Department at the University of California, Los Angeles (198697), and Blaustein Scholar at the Jerusalem Pardes Institute for Jewish Studies. He regularly serves as a faculty member of the Wexner Heritage Foundation.
Dr. Ellenson has published and lectured extensively on diverse topics in modern Jewish history, ethics, and thought. He is the author of Tradition in Transition: Orthodoxy, Halakhah and the Boundaries of Modern Jewish Identity (1989), Rabbi Esriel Hildesheimer and the Creation of a Modern Jewish Orthodoxy (1990) (nominated for the National Jewish Book Council’s Award for outstanding book in Jewish History, 1990), and Between Tradition and Culture: The Dialectics of Jewish Religion and Identity in the Modern World (1994).
His work describes the writings of Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, and Reconstructionist leaders in Europe, the United States, and Israel during the last two centuries and employs a sociological approach to illuminate the history and development of modern Jewish religious denominationalism. His application of this method has allowed him to emphasize the interplay between Jewish religious tradition and modern society in unique ways, and has prompted him to write and lecture on topics ranging from early Reform and Orthodoxy in 19th century Germany and conversion to Judaism at the beginning of the 1900s to the problems of medical ethics in present-day America.
Along with Dr. Stanley Chyet, Dr. Ellenson co-edited Bits of Honey: Essays for Samson H. Levey (1993), and is the author of the commentary entitled “How the Modern Prayerbook Evolved” in the acclaimed Five Volume Series on the Jewish Prayerbook, Minhag Ami – My People’s Prayerbook edited by Dr. Lawrence Hoffman. He is currently writing The Way Into the Varieties of Jewishness (Jewish Lights) and is at work on another book-length collection of his essays for HUC Press.
He has written over 200 articles and reviews in diverse academic and religious journals and books, including The Hebrew Union College Annual, The Journal of American Academy of Religion, Religious Studies Review, The Year Book of the Leo Baeck Institute, Journal of Religion, Modern Judaism, The Jewish Book Annual, The CCAR Journal, Conservative Judaism, The Reconstructionist, and Tradition. His academic lectures have been delivered at such institutions as Charles University in Prague, Ben Gurion and Bar Ilan Universities in Israel, Haverford College, Harvard, Yale, Brown, and the Jewish Theological Seminary.
Dr. Ellenson is a member of several professional and academic societies, including the Association for Jewish Studies, the American Academy of Religion, the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, the Southern California Board of Rabbis, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis. He has served as a pulpit rabbi in Port Washington, New York, and Keene, New Hampshire, and has worked at several summer camps of the Reform and Conservative movements.
Born in Brookline, Massachusetts, in 1947, Dr. Ellenson was raised in Newport News, Virginia. He is married to Rabbi Jacqueline Koch Ellenson, ordained at HUC-JIR in New York in 1983 and Rabbinical Chaplain at the Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles. They are the parents of Ruth (married to Robert Guffey-Ellenson), Micah, Hannah, Naomi, and Raphael.
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As I write these words to you, we have sustained the tragic loss of innocent lives through abominable acts of terrorism. Words fail to convey the devastation that overwhelms all of us. In the face of terror and destruction, we look for consolation and hope from our faith and heritage. We rededicate ourselves to the continuity of our Jewish values that uphold the sanctity of human life, as well as the preciousness of family and community.
One of the most remarkable books in Jewish tradition, which affirms our hopes for the future, is entitled Iggeret Rav Sherira Gaon (The Letter of Rabbi Sherira Gaon). Written in the tenth century by the head of the leading rabbinic academy in Babylonia, this epistle outlined the shalshelet ha-kabbalah (the chain of tradition) that marked the Jewish people from time immemorial. In the pages of this work, Rav Sherira details the names and places of each link (huliyah) in that chain, and he indicates precisely who had preserved and extended Judaism throughout history up until his own day.
While present-day historians debate the precise claims put forth by Rav Sherira from a critical perspective, the most noteworthy lesson I derive from this Jewish classic is that this Babylonian sage did not view himself or his academy in an isolated fashion. Instead, he regarded himself and his institution as integral parts of a religious-intellectual tradition that extended back to Sinai. The roots provided by the great Jewish academies of the past anchored Rav Sherira and his school in the present.
At the same time, Rav Sherira did not allow the weight of the past to prevent either himself or his academy from avoiding their contemporary responsibility to meet the challenges of their age. Rav Sherira understood that he and his disciples were required to add their own voices and understandings to Jewish tradition if Judaism was to remain vital. In so doing, he knew that he stood in a line of great Torah scholars who had graced and creatively led our people before him. He knew from their examples that Judaism had to display a fidelity toward the past if it was to be deemed authentic. However, Rav Sherira recognized, as had his predecessors, that it was equally imperative that Judaism be vibrant and responsive to the needs of the present moment.
We today are called upon to the follow the example set by Rav Sherira. Like the medieval Babylonian sage, we must comprehend the task of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion as twofold. We are called upon no less than our progenitors to be anchored in the past of our people. However, while we constantly strive to preserve the legacy of the past, we must not shirk our responsibility to translate its values into guideposts for the future.
Our aim at HUC-JIR is to make our seminary a fitting successor to an ethos of applied Jewish learning embodied by scholars such as Rav Sherira. The College-Institute is committed to the study of Torah. At the same time, HUC-JIR is open to modern-day religious trends and intellectual currents. This dual commitment permits the faculty and the students trained within the walls of our four campuses to translate a knowledge of the Jewish past into a modern idiom that will address Jews today. Meaningful models for Jewish life thereby emerge and our hope is that these patterns will direct Jews in the present and illuminate our people and all humanity as Jews and non-Jews move toward the future.
This issue of the Chronicle celebrates our faculty both old and new. We promote and nurture the mission of the College-Institute through our teachers and their initiatives. This journal therefore displays their work and describes their promise. We highlight our many new centers of applied learning and scholarship and the initiatives these centers have advanced. Indeed, these per- sons and programs demonstrate that HUC-JIR regards with the utmost seriousness its obligation to serve as a present-day link in a venerable chain of Jewish tradi- tion. We trust that the College-Institute will prove a worthy successor to the sages and institutions that have preceded us, and we hope that what is described in these pages illustrates that Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion remains ever responsive to the challenges of the day.
The challenges we face are particularly evi- dent in Israel’s struggle for peace. Our Jerusalem School symbolizes our unflagging commitment to the Jewish State and the enduring links that bind the Jewish people throughout the world. We are proud of our Jerusalem campus, its students and faculty, academic programs and resources, and community outreach. We express our solidarity with the 63 stateside first-year students spending their Year-in-Israel during these trying days. As you will read in Evan Moffic’s moving piece in this issue, the involvement of our students with the Jewish people, in Israel and elsewhere, is a necessary element of their preparation for Jewish leadership roles. While mindful of the safety and security concerns that are necessary to protect our students and faculty as they pursue their educational goals, we affirm that the continuation of our Israel programs demonstrates our fidelity to the State of Israel and the Jewish people.
Ours is surely an age that is distinct from that of Rav Sherira. However, his spirit and that of his academy remain vital, and the College-Institute constantly strives to preserve and advance the legacy bequeathed us by the Baylonian sage and his school. It is a model of a living Judaism that HUC-JIR and its staff and students champion today.
I hope you enjoy the pages of this edition of the Chronicle, and that the descriptions contained within its covers inspire you to join us as partners in the millennial-old enterprise of the Jewish people. We can surely inspire the present and I am confident that we can together move positively and creatively into the future.
L’shanah tovah tikateivu v’teihateimu – may you and your loved ones as well as all Israel, the United States, and all the world be written and inscribed for a year of peace, safety, health, and goodness.
Rabbi David Ellenson
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OLMERT COMMENDS REFORM STUDENTS ON VISIT
By Haim Shapiro
Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert visited HUC-JIR’s Jerusalem School and met with Rabbi Ellenson, Burton Lehman, Chairman of HUC-JIR’s Board of Governors, and rabbinical, cantorial, and education students in the Year-in-Israel Program.
Jerusalem (August 15)
Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert, who in June announced he was severing all ties with the US Reform Movement after it canceled its youth trips to Israel this summer, yesterday visited Hebrew Union College and met with HUC-JIR president Rabbi David Ellenson and a group of Reform rabbinical students from the US.
The mayor told the students and Burton Lehman, the chairman of the HUC-JIR board of governors who is accompanying Ellenson, how important it is that they came at this time, despite the security situation. Their decision is good for the sense of Jewish unity, Olmert said.
Ellenson, a scholar specializing in modern Jewish history, said later that he is concerned the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora is weakening. At HUC-JIR, he said, the year in Israel is seen as a crucial part of the training for Jewish leadership.
“The education in Israel is more than language. I really believe they must have exposure to the reality of restored Jewish sovereignty in their homeland,” Ellenson said.
Ellenson noted that while more Jews are apathetic to Israel, those who do identify with the Jewish state see this as the prime facet of their Jewishness.
Thus, he said, while far more Jews are drawn to his lectures on modern Jewish thinking than to his lectures on Israel, those who come to the latter are far more involved.
Speaking about American Jewry as a whole, Ellenson said one no longer sees ethnic rivalry between Jews originating from Germany and those whose families came from Eastern Europe, which in the past was often distinguished by loyalty to either the Reform or Conservative movements. American Jews today, he said, are far more likely to affiliate with a synagogue on the basis of other factors, such as the rabbi.
There is, he said, a trend toward disaffiliation and indifference to Jewish tradition, while on the other hand a trend toward greater Jewish literacy and increased observance all along the religious spectrum. “HUC-JIR and the Reform Movement have to understand and confront this postdenominational age and identify with the more committed elements in the Jewish population, and at the same time claim the most disaffected elements,” Ellenson said.
Reprinted with permission from the Jerusalem Post
Join a unique learning experience Israel Kallah and Beit Midrash 2002: January 2-16, 2002.
Explore communality and individuality in Jewish life and thought through classroom study, workshops, meetings with spiritual leaders, and visits to religious and secular communities. Based at Kibbutz Yahel and HUC-JIR/Jerusalem, jointly sponsored by HUC-JIR’s Liberal Yeshivah in Jerusalem and the UAHC, and led by Dr. Michael Chernick, Professor of Rabbinic Literature, HUC-JIR/NY and Rabbi Pamela Wax, Assistant Director of the UAHC Department of Adult Jewish Growth, the faculty includes Dr. Miri Varon on Israeli literature, Rabbi Sidney Slivko on Talmud, Professor Amira Meir on Bible, and Rabbi Moshe Silberschein on Midrash, as well as Professor Paul Liptz, Rabbi Michael Marmur, Jerusalem School dean, and Rabbi Gary Tishkoff, Director of the Liberal Yeshivah.
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NO WOULD-BE JEWISH LEADER SHOULD AVOID SHARING ISRAEL’S JOYS AND SORROWS
By Evan Moffic
Jerusalem – Few American Jews are visiting Israel this summer. While federations and synagogues have made extraordinary efforts to organize solidarity missions, many American Jews see images of terrorism and violence and conclude that now is not the best time to spend a summer vacation in Israel.
As a first year rabbinical student at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, I am required to spend this year studying at the school’s Jerusalem campus. Before leaving Milwaukee for Israel, I was anxious about my own safety as well as the peace of mind of my family and friends.
My grandfather persistently said that the program in Jerusalem would be canceled. Friends suggested deferring for a year and finding a job in the United States.
I considered various options, but knew all the time in my heart that I would board the plane on June 19 for Israel. It’s not that I am not scared. It would be foolhardy to pretend that all is well and good in the Middle East. Yet, I am compelled to face the challenge of learning and growing as part of a Jewish society living through uncertain and difficult times.
Writing to students in the first year rabbinical class, the dean of the Jerusalem campus of HUC-JIR said, “Solidarity is itself a part of the process by which we grow, and through which we may become leaders of the Jewish community.”
Reading his letter and talking with my classmates and those students who preceded us strengthened my commitment to leaving behind safe and familiar environs. I became firmer in my conviction that no Jewish leader could or should avoid sharing in the joys and sorrows faced by the people of Israel.
Lest I sound courageous and self-righteous, I must admit that day-to-day life is not overly dangerous or scary. In my neighborhood, men and women walk their dogs, children run through the streets, and parks and buses are filled with people.
My classmates and I talk about learning Hebrew and finding the best restaurants and coffeehouses and do not dwell on security issues. None of us, as far as I can tell, wants to become isolated from the richness and unparalleled excitement of Jewish life in Jerusalem.
Perhaps even more challenging than living in Israel is confronting the moral questions faced by Israelis and all Jews who support the state of Israel, but who are increasingly frustrated by narrow-minded hatred and a lack of commitment, among both Israelis and Palestinians, to building a just and lasting peace.
While walking back to my apartment from class, I have been confronted by groups of Jews supporting the expulsion of Palestinians from East Jerusalem and, without waiting for a response, demanding to know if I was with or against them. A couple of taxi drivers have asked me why Americans love Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat so much and are meeting with him rather than figuring out a good way to kill him.
It is nearly impossible to imagine what Israeli families who lost a son or daughter in the army or in a terrorist attack feel. Equally difficult is putting oneself in the shoes of young Palestinian men and women prevented from making a decent living and worshipping at their holy sights because of border closings, and constantly encountering suspicious looks because of the language in which they are conversing.
Jewish thinker and social activist Leibel Fein recently wrote an opinion article entitled “A Lack of Hope and Glory.” An emerging crisis of vigilantism is taking hold among Palestinians and Israelis, argues Fein, increasing the likelihood that radicals on both sides will use dramatic acts of terrorism to accelerate the downward spiral toward war.
Yet my conversations with neighbors, teachers, and some young Israelis, along with my faith in our tradition’s promise of peace with justice, have led me to think that many Israelis would welcome Palestinian voices of sanity and moderation with a willingness to undertake far-reaching concessions in both territory and ideology.
What is required now are unequivocal commitments from the United States, Israel and the Palestinian Authority to condemn, stop and prevent violence from destroying our common dreams.
Evan Moffic, a graduate of Stanford University, is a first-year rabbinical student at the HUC-JIR/Jerusalem.
Reprinted with permission from The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle
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A Taste of the Timeless
In celebration of HUC-JIR’s 125th Anniversary, members of the administration and faculty explore the significance of time in Judaism. These essays are illustrated with works of Jewish ceremonial art from “Living in the Moment: Contemporary Artists Celebrate Jewish Time”.
“When God began to create heaven and earth…God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw the light was good, and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light ‘Day,’ and the darkness, God called ‘Night.’ And there was evening and there was morning, one day.” [Genesis 1:1-5]
With the alternation of light and darkness, the notion of “time” was born, and each of the first six days of creation witnessed both evening and morning. On the sixth day Adam was created and, according to the midrashic tradition, in the seventh hour he was placed in the Garden of Eden, escorted by the ministering angels who danced and sang before him.(1) However, by the tenth hour, he already had sinned, eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. In the eleventh hour he was brought to judgment and in the twelfth and final hour he was about to be put to death for his sin. As surely as the day would turn to night, as it had on the first six days of Creation, so Adam would not experience the dawn of a new day. He would die at the onset of the darkness.
But at that very moment, the Sabbath day arrived and became Adam’s advocate, saying to the Holy One, “During the six days of Creation no one suffered punishment. Will You begin with me? Is this my holiness? Is this my blessing? Is this my rest?” And thus Adam was saved from destruction by the Sabbath’s plea.(2) As the Sabbath began, the sky miraculously remained bright as the noonday sun. Adam never experienced the darkness of the night and its terror; the light never waned, lasting thirty-six hours: throughout the hours of the day preceding the Sabbath, through the hours of the night which should have been dark, and continuing through the Sabbath day itself.(3) The Sabbath, the day solely of light, Yom she-kulo ‘or, a taste of the world to come, me-ein olam ha-ba, enabled Adam to survive in the world outside the Garden of Eden, from which he was expelled. Experiencing the light of the Sabbath, which is thought by the rabbis to embody one-sixtieth of the world to come,(4) Adam — every person — was able to taste of the wholeness and redemption of the messianic, even for a brief moment amidst the darkness outside of Paradise.
But his experience of the redemptive light of the Sabbath would not last. For at its close, the sun began to set. Adam saw the darkness creeping in upon him and felt its cold breath. Frightened that the darkness would engulf him and that he was about to die, he cried out to the Holy One, “Surely the darkness will bruise me” (Psalm 139:11).(5) And what did the Holy One do? God caused Adam to find two stones, which he rubbed together until sparks of fire emanated from them. Warmed by the light he had created, Adam recited the blessing that is part of Havdalah,(6) “Blessed are you…who creates the light of the fire.”(7)
Adam acknowledged God as the force that enabled him to recreate light, to extend the light of the Sabbath, thus illuminating his world. Adam understood that on his journey outside the Garden, the Sabbath’s light would allow him to experience sacred time in which the ordeals and imperfections of life would become more bearable. He also learned that it was incumbent upon him to kindle the light of the Sabbath, the day about which God did not say, “And there was evening, and there was morning,” the day solely of light, a moment of eternity. And each week as he enjoyed the Sabbath, which is called a “delight” (Isaiah 58:13), he anticipated his return to the Paradise of his youth.
- Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer, chapter 18
- Midrash on Psalms 92:3
- Midrash on Psalms 92:4
- B.T. Berakhot 57b
- The verb yeshupenu in Psalm 139:11 is interpreted as “he will bruise me” based upon the similar word in Genesis 3:16, in which the serpent is said to bruise, teshupenu, the human’s heel. It is almost as if Adam fears that the serpent will attack him in the darkness of the night.
- Literally “separation,” the service at the close of the Sabbath or a festival
- Based upon Midrash on Psalms 92:4
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TIME AND THE SACRED
Dr. Richard S. Sarason,
Professor of Rabbinic Literature and Thought, HUC-JIR/Cincinnati
In the matter of time, both our ancient Israelite ancestors and their near eastern contemporaries were empiricists. The idea of a cosmic order is rooted in the observed cyclical regularities of sunrise and sunset, the climatic-agricultural seasons of the year, the phases of the moon, and the motions of the celestial bodies. Periodicity is the order of nature. The recurring celestial phenomena and their terrestrial effects spell out the various cycles of the calendar: the solar year with its four seasons, the lunar month and week (each period of the moon lasting approximately seven days), the solar day. Surely these experienced regularities and the symmetries they embody are part of a larger order, our ancestors reasoned: they must be the work of a divine Intelligence, a beneficent Creator who regulates with forethought the environmental conditions under which humankind can thrive: “God made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows when to set” (Psalm 104:19).
And yet there is sufficient experience of disorder and unpredictability in nature as well—floods, droughts, earthquakes, lightning strikes, solar and lunar eclipses— so that order could not be taken for granted. Particularly is this so in the semi-arable land of Israel, where uncertainties about weather and rainfall constantly affected the viability of Israelite agriculture and the very lives of those who depended upon it. The experience and threat of disorder, of eruptions of the chaotic within the larger context of order, called forth a human ritual and cultic response—perhaps God needs human assistance to maintain the cosmic order? Perhaps by our own rule-governed and periodic activity (coupled with obedience to divine commandments), we can influence the outcomes? The idea of human “partnership with God in maintaining the work of creation” primally had a straightforward, instrumental meaning.
The Israelite cultic calendar thus enacts—and maintains—the cosmic calendar and its order. The sacred times at which human ritual activity is prescribed are precisely those times of transition that mark the passage from one experienced cosmic status to another: dawn, high noon, and dusk articulating the day; the quadrants of the sun articulating the seasons; and the phases of the moon articulating the week and month. Just as the social rites of passage ( brit milah, puberty rituals, weddings, funerals) enact the different moments of transition in a human life cycle, the cultic calendar continually enacts the transitions in the cosmic cycle, in the ever-renewing life of the world.
“Sacred time” is about boundaries and passages—from one weekly cycle to the next, from one agricultural cycle to the next. For it is at these moments of passage that we are most aware of our dependence on the Power outside us. These transitional times are fraught with anticipation and danger: What will the next week bring? Will there be adequate rain to sustain crops, herds, and human life in the next rainy season? Will there be enough dew to sustain planting during the next dry season? Will the spring grain harvests and the birthings of the flocks and herds be plentiful? When we have done our work and the rest is out of our hands, can we nonetheless add our energies and intentions to the natural and divine processes? To this day, traditional Jewish liturgy prescribes prayers and scriptural recitations for protection and salvation at these times of turning ( Havdalah verses at the end of the Sabbath, Hoshanot litanies on Sukkot, prayers for rain on Shemini Atseret and for dew on Pesach).
It is no accident that the calendar has been the source of much conflict historically among Jewish groups: at stake literally is the accurate correspondence between human and divine action, between human/conventional and divine/ontological time. The biblical calendars are basically lunar-solar: the months follow the phases of the moon while every year must begin in the spring. But there have been other calendrical systems in the history of Judaism. Most notable is the elegantly symmetrical solar calendar advocated in the late Second Commonwealth period by the groups behind the Book of Jubilees, the Enoch literature, and the Qumran scrolls. This 364-day calendar is divided into four periods of thirteen weeks (ninety-one days) each; in this calendar the Sabbaths always fall on the same monthly dates, and the festivals on the same day of the week. The rabbinic calendar, on the other hand, follows the biblical lunar-solar pattern and has 354 days. The intercalation of the months was initially an arcane and closely guarded process, sometimes subject to political controversy. Similarly, the sighting of the new moon which marked the beginning of the new year in the autumn was carefully monitored by rabbinical authorities; the New Year began according to rabbinical decree, no matter what others might interpret what they saw in the heavens (cf. M. Rosh HaShanah 2:9; Y. Rosh HaShanah 1:3, 57b).
While we are better informed today about the material bases of the celestial and terrestrial orders than were our ancestors, as humans we remain aware of our smallness and finitude in the face of the cosmos. At sunrise and sunset and the changing of the seasons, we feel a sense of awe and wonderment at the grandeur, mystery, and overwhelming power of the world around us. We may still recite with the Psalmist, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the sky proclaims God’s handiwork” (Ps. 19:1).
Earlier generations of Reform and liberal Jews, reading in the signs of their times the dawning of a messianic-like age of social amelioration and universal brotherhood, gave greater attention to the sweep of history, to time’s forward, linear march. We today, looking back on both the advances and barbarities of the past century, while no less committed to the ideal of social betterment, may be less sanguine about human nature and the inevitability of progress. But we still live our daily lives within the cycles and rhythms dictated by the natural order and its calendar. By marking those times with Jewish ritual, by pausing to encounter the sacred and reflect on our creatureliness, we reenact our people’s paths and fill our lives with meaning that transcends both the passing scene and our fleeting place in it. For us no less than for our ancestors, time is the vessel of holiness. For time, well and mindfully spent, is the most precious gift we have.
For further reading:
Theodor H. Gaster, Festivals of the Jewish Year: A Modern Interpretation and Guide (New York: William Sloane Associates, 1953)
Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1962)
Jacob Neusner, Between Time and Eternity: The Essentials of Judaism (Encino, CA: Dickenson, 1975)
——-, The Enchantments of Judaism: Rites of Transformation From Birth Through Death (New York: Basic, 1987)
Shemaryahu Talmon, “Calendars and Mishmarot,” in Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. Lawrence H. Schiffman and James C. VanderKam (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000) 1:108-17
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Alter and Heschel on Jewish Time
Rabbi Michael Marmur
Few Hasidic masters have taught or learnt at Hebrew Union College during the last 125 years. Perhaps the man who came closest to this description was Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972). Heschel brought his Polish Hasidic sensibilities with him from Europe, and he presented them in a radical humanitarian form for an American public hungry for spiritual depth. He may not have been a Hasidic master, but he cannot be understood without recourse to his Hasidic heritage.
Perhaps the greatest influence on the young Heschel was the spiritual legacy of Rabbi Judah Aryeh Leib Alter (1847-1905), the Gerer Rebbe. In tribute to Heschel and his brief but significant time at HUC (1939-1945), I want to relate to a teaching of Judah Aryeh in his extraordinary work, Sefat Emet, and to track the idea as it was preserved and transformed by Heschel. The subject is one which featured centrally in much of Heschel’s work: the relationship between the dimension of time and the dimension of space.
In a source dated 1899, Alter describes the relationship between humanity and time in this way:
“Human beings transcend time. The passage of time depends on the deeds of humankind. Time is purified according to the purity of human deeds; humanity gives both time and space their essence.” ( Hayyei Sarah)
Alter adopts here a radically humanistic approach. Both space and time are mediated through the prism of human consciousness and influenced by the moral force of human deeds. To be sure, not every person can have this impact on the metaphysical order:
“There are souls who need support from the dimensions of time and space. And yet there are souls which illuminate time and space…the lives of the righteous transcend time.” For Alter, the zaddik, the holy and pious hero, stands beyond time.
Abraham Joshua Heschel put time at the very heart of his theological enterprise. In his classic work, The Sabbath, Heschel reflects that the apparent permanence of space is an illusion. That which matters most cannot be embodied in space, but it can be sensed in time. “It is the dimension of time wherein man meets God…”
For Alter, whose thoughts and approach to life Heschel imbibed with his mother’s milk, human beings can defy
time, and mold it. For Heschel, on the other hand, the relationship between space, time and “man” (Heschel’s term) is quite different: “Technical civilization…is man’s triumph over space. Yet time remains impervious. We can overcome distance but can neither recapture the past nor dig out the future. Man transcends space, and time transcends man.” It is important to note that in this formulation, we cannot rule time. Yet in the Sefat Emet, written by the father of Heschel’s childhood tutor, the message is quite different: certain human beings can indeed influence time.
Why did Heschel alter the message of Alter? What had changed in the world to make the idea that mankind could control time impossible for Heshel? In a reversal of expectations, the nineteenth-century traditionalist puts humanity at the center, whilst the twentieth-century modernist stresses that time transcends us: we cannot own or manipulate it.
For Heschel, the Sabbath is the perpetual symbol of humankind’s less-than-ultimate control:
“To gain control of the world of space is certainly one of our tasks. The danger begins when in gaining power in the realm of space we forfeit all aspirations in the realm of time. There is a realm of time where the goal is not to have but to be, not to own but to give, not to control but to share, not to subdue but to be in accord. Life goes wrong when the control of space, the acquisitions of things in space, becomes our sole concern.”
Heschel lived through the events of the first half of the twentieth century, in which men had believed that they could create a Thousand Year Reich. He believed that keeping the Sabbath was not only a ritual act: it was a statement of humanity’s proper place in the world.
At the dawn of the twentieth century, the Gerer Rebbe had looked with optimism at an almost unbridled human potential. Scarred by war and loss, Heschel kept faith with humanity, but held that we must acknowledge our submission to the passage of time, as we acknowledge the very presence of God who searches for us.
The style of Judaism reflected and refined at HUC-JIR over the last 125 years is far away from Polish piety, but it has in common this same ambivalence towards human potential. We believe that humanity can make its mark on time, but we are alarmed at the idea of an all-powerful Superman, cut loose from the moorings of morality and the great anchor of time.
The story of the Jew in modernity is the story of this tension between the belief in human potential and the dread of human self-deification. Consciousness of time is not simply a mark of punctuality or an emblem of history. It is a safeguard for humanity.
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A CENTURY AND MORE: Hebrew Poetry and the Swift Chariot
by Dr. William Cutter
[Page 9 Missing]
This compressed history of ours—from the pre-historic ape to the techno man, to the reversal that the stopwatch is invented before chess—could probably only be believable in a poem. Just as the full strain of time’s attack on each of us might itself best exist in the poetic heterocosm:
Does not sit still,
And I can’t quite capture his lines.
I draw one while the wrinkles in his face multiply While I dip my pen
His lips twist and his hair becomes white
His bluing skin peels from his bones. And he disappears.
The old man is gone,
So what is to become of me.
Each of these poems exploits at least one glaring reference to ancient text: The portrait painter utters the very lines that jump from Reuven’s self-concerned mind when he finds that the abused Joseph is missing from the pit. “Hayeled einenu, va’ani ana ani ba,” The boy is gone, what will happen to me. (Reuven is the older brother responsible for his brother’s well-being). Relying heavily on the gorgeous sound of that line in Hebrew, the poet not only appropriates a verse intended for a situation of the moment and powerful enough for a larger existential question, but he signals that the ancient lives within the present. “Likrat,” even more elabo- rately mixes the ancient world with the present, and the port reminds us that the epoch (in Hebrew “Idan”) was full of sun – an “Eden” indeed, which was perhaps not a garden, but an entire forest, not inhabited so much by peo- ple as by primates. But something happened, it began to get colder, and the apes have mur- mured their way towards clothing, stopwatches and chess – the tools of civilization that is mod- ern life as we came to know it from the Middle Ages to the present.
Modernity already?! Old age already!?
Va-ani, ana ani ba? What of us? And what of us?
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HUC-JIR is privileged to welcome these newest members of the faculty, distinguished for their scholarship, dedication to teaching, and commitment to building a learning community.
Rabbi David Aaron, Professor of Bible – Cincinnati
- Ph.D., 1991, Brandeis University, History of Biblical Interpretation
- Ordination, 1983, HUC-JIR
- Author, Biblical Ambiguities: Metaphor, Semantics, and a Theory of Gradiant Meaning (2001) and editor of Establish Yourself a Teacher, Choose Yourself a Study Partner: Essays in Memory of Marvin Fox (1998)
“In teaching Bible and post-biblical interpretive literature from the time of the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Middle Ages to rabbinical and graduate students at HUC-JIR, I am able to make a contribution in a place where it is meaningful. A seminary is one of the few contexts in which one is able to look at each original source at a high level.”
Dr. Rachel Adler, Associate Professor of Jewish Religious Thought and Feminist Studies — Los Angeles
- Ph.D., 1997, University of Southern California
- One of the first theologians to integrate feminist perspectives and concerns into the interpretation of Jewish texts and the renewal of Jewish law and ethics
- Author, Engendering Judaism: An Inclusive Theology and Ethics (1998), winner of National Jewish Book Award of Jewish Thought, 2000
“Teaching at HUC-JIR is an investment in the future of the Reform Movement. My students internalize what they learn as a way of shaping themselves. I bring a heightened consciousness of the role of gender as a variable in everything we study, from Judaism and gender, feminist hermeneutics applied to traditional Jewish narrative and legal texts, modern Jewish thought, social ethics, and Hebrew Bible.”
Dr. Carole B. Balin, Assistant Professor of Jewish History – New York
- Ph.D., 1998, Columbia University, History • Ordination, 1991, HUC-JIR
- Author, To Reveal Our Hearts: Jewish Women Writers in Tsarist Russia (2000)
“My job combines my two forms of training, as a rabbi and historian. In many ways I serve as rabbi as well as teacher to my students.”
Dr. Jonathan Cohen, Assistant Professor of Talmud and Halachic Literature; Director of the HUC-UC Center for the Study of Ethics and Contemporary Moral Problems – Cincinnati
- Ph.D., 1999, University of Liverpool, Uses and Functions of Restitution in Jewish Law and English Law
- Ll.B., University of Kent at Canterbury, Law School
- Supervises the only M.A. and Ph.D. programs in the U.S. that focus on Jewish law and ethics
“The development of joint courses on aspects of Jewish and Anglo-American restitution offered to HUC-JIR and University of Cincinnati College of Law students benefits HUC-JIR students and generates new possibilities for both teaching and scholarly work in the areas of Jewish law and ethics.”
Dr. Nili Fox, Assistant Professor of Bible – Cincinnati
- Ph.D., 1997, University of Pennsylvania, Biblical Studies
- Director, The Archaeology Center, HUC-JIR/Cincinnati
- Author, In the Service of the King: Officialdom in Ancient Israel and Judah (2000)
“In history courses, I use archaeological evidence as well as non-biblical texts to aid in our tentative reconstructions of Israelite history and, in bible courses, I examine the content of biblical texts by utilizing socio-historical, literary, linguistic, and comparative approaches.”
Dr. Sharon Gillerman, Assistant Professor of Jewish History – Los Angeles
- Ph.D., 1996, University of California at Los Angeles, Modern Jewish and European History
- Dissertation, “Between Public and Private: Family, Community and Jewish Identity in Weimar Berlin”
- Forthcoming book on “A Muscular Macher: The Career of a Jewish Strongman in Post-World War I Europe and America”
“In teaching modern Jewish history at HUCJIR, I focus on problems of identity in the modern world. I truly enjoy giving students an additional, historical framework for thinking about issues that Jews have not only faced in the past, but are confronting today.”
Dr. Lisa D. Grant, Assistant Professor of Jewish Education – New York
- Ph.D., 2000, Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Jewish Education
- Assists Jo Kay in the development of M.A. program in Jewish Education at HUC-JIR/New York
- Previous professional work in marketing, planning, and quality and resource management for 100,000 person health care organization
“My interests embrace adult education, religious development, and the roles ritual and Israel play in American Jewish life. I’m committed to participating in the professional training of our rabbis, cantors, and educators, beyond a purely academic approach to Judaism.”
Dr. Alyssa M. Gray, Assistant Professor of Codes and Responsa Literature – New York
- Ph.D., 1999, Jewish Theological Seminary of America
- Ll.M., 1994, Hebrew University Faculty of Law
- J.D., 1987, Columbia University School of Law
“I specialize in Talmud and post-Talmudic halakhic literature, and appreciate teaching at HUC-JIR because of the sense of openness and experimentation amongst the faculty and students. Unlike a secular university where everything is academic, here people really care whether what they study lives.”
Dr. David Kaufman, Assistant Professor of Contemporary American Jewish Studies – Los Angeles
- Ph.D., 1994, Brandeis University, American Jewish History
- Author, Shul with a Pool: The “Synagogue Center” in American Jewish History (1999)
- Has served as guest curator for The Jewish Museum of Maryland, Baltimore, MD, for an exhibition on the synagogue history of that community
“I study American Judaism, so to be here in the heart of the Reform Movement at HUC-JIR is remarkable both professionally and personally.”
Dr. Adriane Leveen, Assistant Professor of Bible – Los Angeles
- Ph.D., 2000, University of California at Berkeley, Hebrew Bible
- M.S.W., 1983, Columbia University
- Previously a psychotherapist
“I appreciate the unique blend of serious academic and religious study in HUC-JIR’s liberal, progressive, egalitarian environment. I find the combination of objective study of the ancient texts along with a contemporary commitment to, and engagement with, the text, very appealing.”
Dr. Adam Rubin, Assistant Professor of Jewish History – Los Angeles
- • Ph.D., 1999, University of California at Los Angeles, Modern Jewish History
- • Specialist in the history of Jewish culture and politics in Eastern Europe and preState Palestine
- • Forthcoming book on “The Politics of Tradition: Nationalism, Nostalgia, and the Reinvention of the Jewish Past”
“There’s a problem in academia of being isolated from life. Teaching in a seminary is a way of bringing together the practical concerns and needs of the Jewish people and my passionate interest in the Jewish past. At HUC-JIR, the students’ interests are intertwined with their personal commitment, and that makes for a wonderfully interesting class atmosphere.”
Dr. Dvora E. Weisberg, Assistant Professor of Rabbinical Literature – Los Angeles
- Ph.D., 1994, Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Talmud and Rabbinics
- Dissertation on “Tradition and Transformation: The Appropriation of Festival Law in Bavli Betsa”
- Director of HUC-JIR’s Beit Midrash in Los Angeles
“This is a wonderful opportunity to be able to work with future Jewish professionals. I find the students very excited about learning, very approachable and enthusiastic. Both the Reform Movement and HUC-JIR are interested in trying new things and doing some very interesting programming right now.”
Rabbi Andrea Weiss, Instructor in Bible
- Ph.D. candidate, University of Pennsylvania, Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near East
- Ordination, 1993, HUC-JIR
- Dissertation on “Metaphor in the Narratives of the Book of Samuel”
“At HUC-JIR I have the opportunity to teach students for whom Bible is really central to their work and essential to their religious life. It is fulfilling for me to be a mentor to my students in their professional and spiritual development and to serve as a resource for the Reform Movement and Jewish community.”
Dr. Wendy Zierler, Assistant Professor of Modern Jewish Literature and Feminist Studies – New York
- Ph.D., 1995, Princeton University
- Dissertation on “Border Crossings: Jewish Women Writers and the Immigrant Experience in Israel and the USA”
- Forthcoming book on “And Rachel Stole the Idols: The Emergence of Modern Hebrew Women’s Writing”
“HUC-JIR is a place where my teaching will have an impact on future leaders of Jewish communities. I am eager to see the study of modern Jewish literature integrated in a real, meaningful sense into the curriculum and into students’ understanding of their written tradition; I believe that the best of modern Jewish literature is deeply connected and responsive to classical sources and is as significant as philosophy and history to a sense of the nature of purpose of Judaism in the modern, or postmodern, world.”
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RECRUITING REFORM LEADERS OF TOMORROW
These congregations have sent the most rabbinical, cantorial, and education students to HUC-JIR in the past 10 years:*
Temple Israel, Minneapolis, MN – 10 students
Temple Emmanu-El, Dallas, TX – 8 students
Temple Israel, Boston, MA – 8 students
B’nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim, Glenview, IL – 7 students
Congregation Shalom, Milwaukee, WI – 6 students
Temple Emanu-El, Westfield, NJ – 6 students
Temple Sinai, Denver, CO – 6 students
Congregation Emanu El, Houston, TX – 6 students
*data from students’ applications
Successful student recruitment has never been more important to the College-Institute and the Reform Movement. There is an urgent need for more professional leaders trained by HUC-JIR – from the synagogue to the Jewish community center, from the Federation to the social service agency, from the university to the chaplaincy setting, from the Jewish summer camp to the elder care facility.
There has been a nearly 30% increase in the number of Reform congregations within one generation — from 706 synagogues in 1970 to 906 congregations flourishing today in regions throughout North America. At the same time, there has been an explosive growth of Jewish educational institutions and communal organizations. Graduates of HUC-JIR’s academic and professional programs provide the necessary leadership to ensure a vibrant Jewish future. And recruiters show the Reform leaders of tomorrow the path to take today.
Alumni who love their work are some of HUC-JIR’s most effective recruiters. Rabbis, cantors, educators and Jewish communal professionals who lead productive and fulfilling Jewish lives encourage young people and second career adults to access HUC-JIR’s educational resources, guaranteeing a bright future for Reform Judaism.
Chronicle talked with leaders from congregations that have sent students to HUC-JIR about the characteristics of effective recruiters. Rabbis Joseph Edelheit of Temple Israel in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Mark S. Shapiro, Emeritus, of B’nai Jeshurun Beth Elohim in Glenview, Illinois, Charles A. Kroloff of Temple Emanu-El in Westfield, New Jersey, Robert Levine of Congregation Rodeph Sholom in New York City, and Ronald M. Shapiro of Congregation Shalom in Milwaukee, Wisconsin described recruiting techniques that have been the most successful throughout their careers.
How do you identify prospective recruits?
Edelheit: I’m looking for people who have passion. I think that enthusiasm and a willingness to take risks with that passion are the most tangible behavioral representations of the persons with whom I’ve worked that will go to HUC-JIR.
M. Shapiro: I like people who get along with other people, not just the good Hebrew students. I tend to be more drawn to kids who love being Jewish, and can make a connection with other people. I like to find people who think being Jewish is important, but who don’t approach it with a sort of solemnity.
Kroloff: Sometimes it’s obvious. Like a young man who wrote thoughtful poetry that had strong Jewish themes, or a young woman who was very active in our youth group, a leader in Hillel. People who like to study Jewish text or philosophy, people who are sensitive to others, interested in Jewish studies, have a commitment to Judaism and the Jewish people. There’s a spiritual quality to the individuals, somebody who is in search of life’s meaning. I do want to emphasize the importance of second career recruits. They have special problems that I try to help them think through both in terms of family and what kind of work they will find for themselves when they’re ordained. I tell them the opportunities in the rabbinate are greater than they’ve ever been: full-time, part-time, hospitals, military, federations and academics. In each of these areas there are more opportunities than ever before.
R. Shapiro: I always stress the importance of the North American Federation of Temple Youth in recruiting. I always tell NFTY members that they are part of a great group nationally and internationally. I have always thought it’s been important for our congregation to have an orientation towards the young. NFTY is a great focus for leadership.
What kinds of recruitment activities do you and your congregations participate in?
Kroloff: I talk about the joysof becoming a rabbi at every opportunity, confirmation class, appropriate times on Shabbat, classes, individual meetings with people when I think it is appropriate. And indirectly, by encouraging trips to Israel for teenagers and college students, Jewish camping and Jewish day school education. I think it’s the contact with like-minded Jewish youth of the same age group who take Judaism seriously and I think it’s also the joy of the informality of Jewish living at a good Jewish camp.
M. Shapiro: The most significant thing is being a happy rabbi, enjoying one’s work and doing it well. People take notice and think, ‘you know, I can do that.’ One of the things that was effective was making sure that kids go to Reform Jewish camps. Camp is humanizing — being able to be with rabbis who sit under trees and teach in their shirts, finding a rabbi who plays a mean third base. During the confirmation blessing, if there was a youngster who seemed to have a special interest or flair for Judaism, I would say that it may seem your future is to be a teacher or a rabbi. Those are the kinds of personal seeds I would drop at a very emotional time for kids.
Edelheit: Those that I have helped have been very specific and based on the relationship I had with the individual. I spend a lot of time giving mock interviews and being very pointed about the personalities involved. I think that it is also a congregation’s duty to create an environment in which HUC-JIR is an ever present, accessible goal. HUC-JIR has to be present in the congregation as the place where we send our kids, where we hope our young adults will think about spending the rest of their lives.
Levine: Our congregation hosts events, distributes Jewish reading materials, and pursues close relationships with prospective recruits. The percentage of our kids drawn to HUC-JIR is just enormous. The first step is just encouraging kids to continue after bar/bat mitzvah. We try very hard to go to the Religious Action Center every year. We go to the weekend program at HUC-JIR, and Camps Eisner and Kutz. We sponsor our own Israel summer program, tied in with NFTY. The next thing we do is trying to stay in touch over the college years. Rodeph sends letters to kids from the clergy, holiday packages, haggadot, groggers, the story of Purim, sermons, and Jewish periodicals. Around college homecoming events like Thanksgiving, we have college night. The clergy invite kids out to dinner and visit college towns. As we see kids with aptitude who have interest we make sure we’re in continuous personal contact.
R. Shapiro: We encourage HUC-JIR alumni and professors to engage our congregation in discussion and at services. Almost every year over the last 20 years our scholar-in-residence has come from HUC-JIR. We often try to dovetail a scholar with a meeting with our students. We also keep in touch with HUC-JIR graduates who are from the congregation, as well as HUC-JIR alumni who are married to congregants. Bringing Jewish professionals into our congregation encourages youth and those considering second-careers as Jewish professionals to think about HUC-JIR.
Do you keep in contact with students recruited from your congregation?
M. Shapiro: The sisterhood honored all of the professional Jews who had grown up in the congregation and invited them back for a special program. Fourteen of them came because they still felt close to the congregation and because I kept up a close relationship with them. Once you have a few people who have gone to HUC-JIR, you are able to talk about them a great deal and introduce them to younger kids, have them come back and speak. That’s a ball that keeps rolling.
Kroloff: I maintain close contact starting with their first sign of interest, via email, having lunch, visiting them at college. Then, I continue that contact through HUC-JIR, frequently visiting with them. Once they are ordained, I try to be their advisor. Many of us have doubts as we undertake this journey. I like to be there for them. I will be their friend and advisor, someone they can turn to with questions. And, frankly, I also turn to them. They have a perspective on the rabbinate that will be different from mine. I like to celebrate their high points and I like to be there in joy as well as in difficulty.
Edelheit: I sustained contact with the vast majority of them. I have installed many and some have worked for me as associates. Someone who makes a choice about the rabbinate will always look up to the rav with whom and from whom they got their most formidable mentoring.
R. Shapiro: We just sent a letter to all the HUC-JIR grads and others who have become involved in Jewish religious life to come to our Thanksgiving service and participate in a panel discussion about why they chose their profession and how they see their work as a positive in the Jewish community and what they see for the future of the Jewish community.
What characteristics make for a successful recruiter?
Edelheit: I have made myself accessible regarding every single element of what the rabbinate and Jewish professional life is about. I have not painted only the best side if it. I’ve been completely open about the challenges. Therefore, I guess I would have to say to the degree that a person is willing to recruit, they have to be completely honest about what the rabbinate, the cantorate, or Jewish professional life is going to be about. Delivering a superficial line is a disservice. Trying to pretend that the process of getting in is perfect, that the educational process is perfect, that there is anything but a real human dimension, is to be totally disingenuous.
M. Shapiro: I used to think you should never try to convince someone to be a rabbi because it’s a difficult career. As in most everything else, you learn by watching a role model. Recruiters have to be fulfilled rabbis – rabbis who just keep a sense of joy in being a rabbi and love it – and very good youth advisors and youth group leaders.
Kroloff: A rabbi that has a wellbalanced life makes an excellent recruiter just by virtue of the life he or she leads. If the student sees a rabbi who takes time to coach little league or goes to a daughter’s ballet rehearsal or enjoys a walk in the park, this rabbinic wellness is going to be encouraging. I think it’s the responsibility of every rabbi to recruit because the future of Jewish life is dependent on us having enough rabbis and Jewish professionals. So, every one of us has to be out there looking for these wonderful people to serve the Jewish people.
The Golden Family Alumni Recruitment Initiative is a year-old program that provides recruitment training for Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion alumni. A generous grant from the Golden family has enabled the New York School to establish annual seminars where alumni and current HUC-JIR students and administration learn from each other, trading recruitment techniques and brainstorming new strategies.
“The Reform Movement is growing faster than ever before, and so must our recruitment effort,” said John Golden, describing why his family funded the recruiting initiative. “The College-Institute’s alumni are closest to Jewish communal life and they are our best representatives.”
In September 2000, the New York School hosted 27 Eastern Region alumni for the first Golden recruitment seminar. Rabbis cantors, educators and Jewish communal professionals discussed how, where and who to recruit for all of the College-Institute’s programs. HUC-JIR faculty, national and local administrators, students and lay leaders led presentations and discussed the shortage of Jewish professionals for the Reform Movement. They explored tips for successful recruitment, new programmatic initiatives and admissions requirements at each professional school, application and admissions statistics and processes, current Eastern Region and National recruitment activities and the creative use of alumni in identifying, referring and recruiting prospective students.
“The highlight of the day were the presentations from the students because the alumni were so pleased at how enthusiastic the students were about their time here at HUC,” said Cantor Ellen Dreskin, Associate Dean of the New York School. “The alumni left feeling very positively about what’s going on in the school and confident that they could recommend HUC-JIR to their best and their brightest.”
Together with the New York School Dean, Rabbi Aaron Panken, Dreskin organized the September seminar with the goal to educate alumni about the “current atmosphere and riches of the school,” she said. “In some cases we’re educating alumni who have been out of the school for 20 or 30 years so that they can recognize potential candidates in their own communities, and so they can also visit college campuses in their own cities.”
For those who participate in the Golden recruitment initiative, their recruitment efforts continue after the seminar ends. Rabbi Amy Schwartzman of Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church, Virginia, worked on increasing the HUC-JIR enrollment of members from her congregation. In a letter to Dreskin, Schwartzman described how she invited high school students with “great potential to be Jewish leaders” to her home to talk about the possibility of pursuing a professional Jewish career. With her congregation’s Assistant Rabbi Marcus L. Burstein, and Cantor Michael A. Shochet, Rabbi Schwartzman also pursued a second group of recruits – college students and people considering second careers – inviting them to private lunches where they discussed a career as a Jewish professional.
When Dreskin receives recruitment news like Schwartzman’s, she distributes it to all of the other participants from September’s program. By creating a cadre of actively recruiting alumni, those who participate in the Golden Family Alumni Recruitment will continue to support each other with new ideas and enthusiasm for success stories.
In the coming year, the New York School will expand the Golden Initiative and offer two new seminars, October 24 and November 7, to new alumni participants. The seminars will continue to target congregational alumni and alumni who work at colleges and other institutions.
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PSYCHODYNAMICS AND PASTORAL COUNSELING
The Blaustein Center for Pastoral Counseling provides HUC-JIR’s students with new opportunities for professional development and spiritual growth
“Congregants lead increasingly complicated lives,” says Betty Roswell, a clinical social worker in Bridgewater Township, NJ. “They turn to clergy for help in dealing with a myriad of personal, family, and spiritual issues, among them the illness and death of loved ones. Our clergy and educators need the skills and understanding to support their congregants effectively.”
To answer these needs, HUC-JIR/New York has launched the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Center for Pastoral Counseling, established with a $2.5 million endowment in memory of Roswell’s beloved parents. Rabbinical students in New York are now required to study psychodynamics and pastoral counseling through the Center, organized in partnership with the CCAR and the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health. In addition, all rabbinical students must complete supervised clinical training, including a year of congregational work and a year-long pastoral counseling internship.
“It is critical that our spiritual leaders are able to listen and advise, respect confidentiality and boundaries, and gauge their own limitations,” says Dr. Nancy Wiener, clinical director of the Blaustein Center and field work coordinator. “Through the Blaustein Center, HUC-JIR students will have greater opportunities to develop their identity as rabbis – gaining insights into the expectations, demands, limitations, and power that come with the title and role.”
Field work placements are designed to help students acquire skills that are unique to the rabbinate, among them counseling, teaching, preaching, group dynamics, leading services, and ritual responsibilities. “Students receive hands-on experience in a highly supervised setting as well as opportunities for individual and group reflection to gain greater understanding of their goals as rabbis,” Dr. Wiener explains. During their second-year Jewish education course, rabbinical students are required to teach in a religious school. As part of their third-year counseling class, their field work includes placements in hospitals, bereavement groups, and clinics. Students spend at least one year in a congregational setting, with supervised pulpit responsibility; their second year of field work, a choice of congregation, hospital, nursing home, or organization (including the UAHC), depends on, and helps define, their future career goals. The goal is to integrate practical experiences and academic study. “If students are asked to counsel the ill and dying and their families at the same time as they study Jewish theology in class, their own beliefs will be challenged and will become more refined,” Dr. Wiener says.
At HUC-JIR/Los Angeles, the newly established Sexual Orientation Issues in Congregations and Community Initiative assists students in working within the Jewish gay and lesbian communities. The newly endowed Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health (see page 16) offers a national think tank for theological and philosophical discourse on Judaism and health.
HUC-JIR/Cincinnati offers students the opportunity to participate in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), a national experiential education program that teaches pastoral care in healthcare settings (see page 20); and the Mayerson Mentoring Program, in which students serving as the sole rabbi for small congregations are mentored by rabbis in the field. Students visit their mentors’ congregations and the mentors visit the students’ pulpits, a supervision process which supports students’ growth as spiritual and educational leaders while building strong relationships between ordained rabbis and their future colleagues.
The new curriculum also requires three supervisory sessions per semester; biweekly small-group sessions facilitated by rabbis with advanced degrees in counseling, and six to eight sessions on professional issues ranging from ethics and boundaries to time management and working with boards. In addition, a Senior Seminar Practicum explores practical professional issues such as budgets, pensions, and clergy teamwork. And prior to graduation, seniors are matched with mentors with whom they will be able to consult during the first years of their careers.
Through these professional development programs, HUC-JIR prepares future rabbis to balance the complex demands of career and personal life. Students are conditioned to integrate their studies, field work, and personal lives into a coherent whole, “so when congregants question the meaning of their own lives,” says Dr. Wiener, “their rabbi is able to be a source of counsel and support. It is only after grappling with these issues oneself that a rabbi will be able to truly help others achieve a meaningful Jewish life.”
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The Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health
Eight years ago, Irving Kalsman was visited by commented on the “many passionate, intelligent people connected” with HUC-JIR rabbinical student Judith Schindler while he was a patient at a local hospital. Her visit had such a positive effect on him that he and his family decided to establish the Lee and Irving Kalsman Scholarship Fund to foster chaplaincy training at the College-Institute. Subsequently the family sponsored a major national conference on Judaism and healing, and – ultimately – endowed the Lee and Irving Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health.
Twenty-three years ago, Dr. William Cutter, Professor of Education and Hebrew Literature, underwent bypass surgery. The hospital chaplain, Rabbi Meier, had such a significant impact on him that Dr. Cutter devoted a year to accompanying Rabbi Meier on his rounds. He turned that experience into a training opportunity for his own HUC-JIR students, and from there an important elective course was developed at HUC-JIR/Los Angeles.
Dr. Cutter, Director of the Kalsman Institute on Judaism Health, speaks of the “ripple effect” reflected in these events. Indeed he believes that every person involved with Judaism and health has an exponential power on the people they comfort or teach. Look at the effect two seemingly modest experiences had on Mr. Kalsman and Dr. Cutter: courses have been constructed, thousands of patients have been visited, and fifteen conferences or colloquia are planned for the next several years. Rabbi Cutter believes that we function like Gideon’s army: making the sounds of an army much larger than it actually is.
HUC-JIR’s Kalsman Institute at HUC-JIR/Los Angeles has just that goal and that strategy. By hosting meetings and symposia, sponsoring seminars and conferences, and serving as a think-tank for issues on Judaism and healing, Cutter stated that “we are going to try to be the force that brings different elements [the numerous factions working in the field of health] together.” In addition to reaching people already involved in the health field, the Institute wants to reach those committed to looking at Jewish perspectives on health, while attracting people of all faiths who are interested in healing work.
Along with New York and Cincinnati, it also is reaching out to HUC-JIR students and alumni of all programs to educate them in hospital chaplaincy and pastoral care. Providing research tools and access to literature, the Kalsman Institute offers opportunities to learn about and discuss topics that have not been dealt with sufficiently in the past and new topics such as genetics, alternative medicine, arts and illness, and problems facing people with disabilities.
Almost 80 partners – physicians, nurses, artists, rabbis, publishers, and professors, among others of diverse faiths – have committed to work with the Kalsman Institute to promote the Institute’s visions and develop new models of training for health care. Lisa Kodmur, Assistant Director of the Kalsman Institute, commented on the “many passionate, intelligent people connected” with the Institute. Seventy-five people from the health world and Jewish community came to Los Angeles in March to strategize and create a national agenda.
The first national conference, in April 2000, was designed to initiate conversations among rabbis and other clergy, Jewish communal professionals, doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, and congregational leaders. Exploring current health issues with a focus on Judaism and health, the conference was “dedicated to dialogue about the issues that bring religion and health together: spirituality, mind-body approaches to health, and the place of religious leadership in setting social policy,” according to Dr. Cutter. The conference (and the Institute) demonstrate how medical professionals and clergy recognize the significance of interaction between their fields, as well as how congregants show a serious interest in healing issues. Future conferences and projects include working with the following partners:
- The Union of American Hebrew Congregation’s Department of Family Concerns on involving congregations with healing institutions and strengthening programs within the synagogue;
- The University of Southern California and the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office on dealing with disabilities;
- The University of California at Los Angeles’ Medical Center’s Department of Spiritual Care on training HUC-JIR and University of Judaism students to become chaplains, and introducing Jewish approaches to health (Dr. Cutter is teaching one of these classes);
- Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin, the JCC of Greater Baltimore, and nurses nationwide in developing a congregational and community nursing initiative; and
- Fordham University Law School on cosponsoring a conference “Religious Values and Legal Dilemmas in Bioethics” (January 28-29, 2002).
The plan is to influence the spread of these programs across the country.
The Kalsman Institute brings together the “very ancient tradition” of Judaism with a “contemporary need” for better health care to integrate intellectual, ethical, theological, and spiritual aspects of Judaism with caring and healing of the sick. Since the automatic connection between religion and health no longer exists, the Institute wants to bring it to the forefront of individuals’ and congregations’ minds. A chaplain’s knowledge of Jewish literature and values when visiting the sick will help patients deal with ethical issues and health issues from a Jewish perspective. In addition, with enhanced staffing, the Institute will be able to work more directly on HUC-JIR students’ professional needs, while at the same time assisting the UAHC in raising awareness within Reform congregations. The Kalsman Institute staff also includes Dr. Jay Abarbanel, lay leader and former Professor of Anthropology at the University of Southern California.
Augmenting the College-Institute’s 20-plus years of offering classes on bikkur cholim (visiting the sick), the Institute will offer lectures for students and alumni and provide chaplaincy training. The expansion of rabbinical studies at HUC-JIR/Los Angeles into a four year stateside ordaining program is leading to the transformation of its supervised field work program and related courses.
To address the health and spiritual crises in America, the Kalsman Institute stimulates the intellect and advocates for the psychological, emotional, spiritual, and religious sides to healing. In the words of Kodmur, the goal of integrating Judaism and healing is to make people “whole.”
The Kalsman Institute complements other HUC-JIR programs that train students and encourage faculty to become engaged with the health agenda: HUC-JIR/New York’s Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Center for Pastoral Counseling in New York [see page 14] and Doctor of Ministry Program, run in conjunction with the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health, which develops pastoral counseling skills of clergy of all faiths; and HUCJIR/Cincinnati’s Clinical Pastoral Education program [see page 15; and Chronicle, Spring 1991, number 51, page 10].
In Cincinnati, rabbinical students enroll in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), a national system of experiential education that teaches pastoral care in healthcare settings. With the support of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, this program trains rabbinical students in CPE at the Jewish Hospital and other healthcare institutions. Cincinnati rabbinical students are currently required to serve a minimum of 400 hours in CPE as part of their ordination requirements. The Cincinnati School is working toward earning accreditation in CPE which will give the College-Institute the opportunity to place and supervise students in various clinical settings, including their congregational pulpit internships.
Rabbi Ruth Alpers, Stein Director of Human Relations and Pastoral Counseling at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati, who is working toward becoming a CPE supervisor, noted that the “primary goal of CPE is the professional development of our students training to become clergy. Each individual is working on himor herself, clarifying personal theology and religious boundaries.” She hopes to expand the program to offer CPE to HUC-JIR alumni.
To ensure that the College-Institute’s field programs on all campuses are consistent in their training goals and requirements,a national Clinical Education Advisory Committee has been meeting regularly to review and develop institution-wide learning objectives and supervision standards.
A Life-Changing Student Internship
Suzanne Singer, rabbinical student, HUC-JIR/LA ‘03
This summer, I participated in a life-changing experience, training as a chaplain through UCLA Hospital’s Clinical Pastoral Education program (CPE). Twelve seminary students, both Christians and Jews, spent five to six days a week helping patients and their families cope with trauma and crisis. The work was exhausting, both physically and emotionally, and it involved the witnessing of an inordinate amount of suffering: parents having to take their baby off of life support; cancer patients reacting adversely to chemotherapy; a three-year-old boy, hooked up to several IV’s and monitors, praying that God will give him a new heart.
My most heart-wrenching case was a twenty-six-year-old man who had a horrific car accident. It took the rescue team forty-five minutes to extricate him from the car. He is now a quadriplegic on a lifelong respirator; one of his legs was amputated. He is fully conscious though he cannot utter sounds; his food comes to him via a tube. His mother, understandably, wants to keep him alive at all costs. She is a very devout Catholic and believes that a miracle will cure her son. He mouths words to the effect that he wants to find a doctor who will “fix” him. Meantime, the doctors want to give him a pacemaker as his heart has flat-lined several times.
People ask me how I can deal with such situations. In one e-mail, a friend writes:
I have never understood where clergy get their understanding and strength to deal with what could often be looked at as betrayal by God. It is the most amazing thing that people find strength and solace from God instead of being angry. And where you find your own strength to face these people and their plights on a daily basis, trying to give them some kind of comfort and hope.
For me, God’s presence is felt in the relationships between people. When people connect through love, and compassion, and concern, that is God providing solace. I do not believe in a God in heaven to whom we plead for help or for miracles. I believe that we call on the God within ourselves and within each other to awaken the strength and courage that is at the kernel of our souls. As a chaplain, when you help another human being, you are given a gift; that gift is the ability to reach out of yourself, to touch another, tapping the life force that unites all humanity.
So there are many life-affirming moments when a patient has cried his eyes out, but ends the visit with a smile because you have really been there for him at a time of acute need. Or when the wife of a patient hugs you, letting you know that you have brought light into the life of a dying man. Or when you’re simply able to share a smile with the family of a comatose patient, affirming their need for relief in the midst of sorrow.
At the same time, there are many moments when the task can be overwhelming, when you cannot witness one more experience of pain. The beauty of the CPE program is the enormous support one receives from the staff as well as from one’s peers. Our days are scheduled in such a way that we have ample opportunity to process our experiences and the concomitant emotions. Each of us has weekly, hour-long sessions with a supervisor where reflection and self-examination take place. Additionally, we meet in groups several times a week to review and discuss cases. It is amazing how quickly members of a group will bond when confronted with crisis. The result is a sense of safety and a feeling of trust that enables us to be very open with each other as well as affirming of each other. I now have new friends, some of whom will be with me for many years.
The people I admire the most are the doctors and nurses who are around so much relentless pain day in and day out. My clinical pastoral experiences have given me a different perspective on my life and made me aware of all that I take for granted. Certainly, I will always have a new appreciation for the morning prayer: Barukh atah Adonai, eloheinu melekh haolam, asher yatzar et adam b’chochmah, u’vara vo nekavim nekavim, chalulim chalulim. Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has formed man in wisdom, and created in him a system of ducts and tubes.
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The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati memorializes the Holocaust in order to combat injustice and prejudice today
Nearly sixty years after spending her 18th birthday in a Nazi concentration camp, Anna Ornstein will share her story with visitors to the Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education (CHHE) at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati.
“It’s very important to share the experiences we had,” Ornstein said. “We have to be able to speak to children.”
Liberated by Russian troops from camp Parschnitz in the former Czech Republic, Ornstein is one of the many Holocaust survivors who are working with the CHHE on a project called Mapping Our Tears. This interactive video-documentary exhibition, opening on November 10th, will document the experiences of 50 Holocaust survivors and liberators in the greater Cincinnati tristate community. Mapping Our Tears and a myriad of other projects involving Holocaust education reflect the breadth of creativity and outreach undertaken by the Center’s director, Dr. Racelle E. Weiman.
The CHHE was inaugurated in September 2000 and has achieved prominence in Cincinnati. Weiman defined the Center’s mission: “To honor and dignify every human voice and every Jewish life. Every life is valuable and the dignity of each human experience has to be celebrated.” Devoted to Holocaust education, the Center has introduced Holocaust history to new and diverse audiences and provided training to educators and classes for students.
Highlights of the CHHE’s first year include workshops with 1000 students attending the Cincinnati Opera’s performances of Brundibar, a children’s opera composed at Terezin; lectures at Jewish, Christian, and secular venues during Holocaust Awareness Week; and presentation of the exhibition “Rebirth After the Holocaust: The Bergen Belsen Displaced Persons Camp, 19451950” at the Cincinnati Museum Center.
Weiman explains that the CHHE, jointly sponsored by HUC-JIR and the Combined Generations of the Holocaust of Greater Cincinnati, is in a unique position to ask questions and address concerns. “We have a special mandate because we are in a theological institution,” she said. “We can question God and faith after the Holocaust and the role of religion in human and civil rights.”
She wants the Center to educate and promote “courage and moral fiber” by learning from the Holocaust experience. “These are specifically issues that have to do with confronting yourself,” Weiman said. “It’s a question of ethics, morality, faith, and spirit.”
Ornstein echoed the CHHE’s mission. “To teach the Holocaust means to teach about morality and responsibility,” she said. “The challenge in spreading Holocaust awareness today is to communicate with groups, such as children, who may not have yet been sufficiently included in the educational process,” she added. High School students are being trained as docents for Mapping our Tears and other exhibits.
Weiman, too, wants the CHHE to reach out to traditionally unengaged groups. “Both Jews and people of other faiths and ethnicities need to be able to feel that they can ask questions,” she said. “We’ve had students from the Urban League with whom I’ve spoken about prejudice, how education gives you a voice. They were absolutely amazed. They realized prejudice has nothing to do with the color of your skin, but what’s in the heart of the perpetrator.”
“We talk about resistance, we talk about courage, expression of art, music, and righteousness. Whoever comes to the Center gets drawn in by an aspect that challenges them. There is a universal appeal because prejudice is a universal problem.”
Weiman would like to form a partnership with the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, which is scheduled to open in Cincinnati in two years. “The presence of the NURFC will strengthen education about the African-American and Jewish experiences of prejudice,” she noted.
This Spring’s outbreak of racial violence in Cincinnati has demonstrated the special role that the CHHE can play in building a more tolerant society.
Jerome Manigan, an adult literacy education teacher in Cincinnati and a CHHE board member, thinks the Center can help build a bridge between Jews and African-Americans. Manigan said he would like to see relations between Jews and African-Americans return to the “greater alliance” they shared during the civil rights movement. In May 2000, Manigan took his 20-student class, the bulk of whom are African-American, to the Center.
“As an educator, I wanted to be able to talk more in depth with my students about major world events, and certainly the Holocaust was a major world event, just as slavery,” he remarked.
According to Manigan, much of slavery’s written history is unavailable. The CHHE gave his students access, which they would not normally have, to primary source material about human victimization during the Holocaust, enabling them to “understand the evil of man’s inhumanity to men,” he said.
“It was a thought provoking experience for them to be able to view artwork that was produced by children who were confined to concentration camps,” Manigan said. “It allowed them to expand their humanity and their compassion.”
The Center has also reached out to Cincinnati youth through its internship program. Since opening its door, 10 interns have worked at the CHHE on projects such as Mapping Our Tears, developing educational curriculum, and assisting the Center’s administration. A newly established fund, created by Holocaust survivor Esther Lucky on the occasion of her 80th birthday, provides a scholarship stipend for college interns.
Sally Kuitz, a 19-year-old junior at Indiana University, has interned at the Center since May, working on youth leadership, publicity, and Mapping Our Tears. Kuitz, who is related to Holocaust survivors through her mother, documents testimony from survivors and liberators of the Holocaust. Kuitz works hands-on with survivors and liberators and the personal artifacts that are part of their experiences during the Holocaust.
“It’s hard not to get emotional,” she said. “If I look at a picture I think ‘that could have been a person who was related to me.’”
Though it can be emotionally draining work, Kuitz said she is committed to the CHHE’s projects because of personal experiences. In 1999, Kuitz visited a concentration camp in Poland. After seeing the camp, Kuitz said she feels privileged to talk to the survivors and liberators.
Kuitz said her work at the CHHE has deepened her understanding of the Holocaust. She added that visitors to the Center have received the exhibitions well and been “supportive and enthusiastic” of the survivors and their stories.
“To be able to listen to them, it’s not a burden, but a responsibility,” she said.
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TEACHING STUDENTS HOW TO TRANSFORM THEIR SYNAGOGUES: The Synagogue 2000 Approach
“The call for spirituality is a response to this age of freedom, where even the healthiest adults want to know that their lives have shape, that some values are eternal, that intellectual pursuit of ultimate questions is not in vain. It is the conviction that where once-mandated communities like extended families and long-term neighborhoods have largely collapsed, communities of choice called synagogues can be centers of vision, hope, insight, and care.”
Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, Professor of Liturgy, HUC-JIR/NY and co-founder of Synagogue 2000
Imagine a synagogue that is revitalized, personal, engaging even to marginal members, and genuinely welcoming; a synagogue with scores of support and study groups called Jewish Journey groups; a synagogue where everyone (not just the social action committee) can make a difference in the community. Synagogue 2000 is helping synagogues across the country become such communities of meaning, spirituality, and connectedness.
This innovative program, based at HUC-JIR/New York, was co-founded by Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, Professor of Liturgy at HUC-JIR/NY and Dr. Ron Wolfson, Professor of Education, University of
Judaism. Synagogue 2000 revisions synagogue life by wedding together a genuinely Jewish vision and a change management process; then providing demonstration conferences, curricula for synagogue study teams, and change management consultants. It provides regular leadership meetings and seminars on such topics as sacred space, membership policies, and creating a healing community. Synagogue 2000 is increasingly being integrated into HUC-JIR’s curriculum, so that future professional leaders of congregations can become catalysts for positive change in Reform communities.
Rabbi Hoffman conducts a year-long course on Synagogue 2000 which teaches 3rd year cantorial and 4th year rabbinical students the philosophy behind S2K (as Synagogue 2000 is popularly known) and its path breaking approach toward realizing its goals.
Rabbi Hoffman prepares students to implement the ideals of Synagogue 2000 as leaders of their congregations. The first semester of his course focuses on practice and theory: the sociology of current American religion, general systems theory, and examples of successful religious organization along S2K models. The second semester turns to the theoretical and practical use of ritual, in particular, within the synagogue setting. Students participated in a one-day summer retreat with Rabbi Hoffman and their unanimous request for a third semester resulted in the expansion of the course.
Rabbi Hoffman transforms the class into his ideal synagogue setting. At the beginning of class (as at his proposed synagogue board meetings), students “check-in” and share news about their lives, building a caring community within a class which studies and prays together. Rabbi Hoffman emphasizes the importance of empowering laity (and students), rather than using a corporate model of hierarchical leadership. As a professor, he plays the role of the rabbi within a congregation. Rather than lecturing, he leads class discussions – setting an example for a rabbi dealing with a board. He promotes a flexible class which allows for changes in curriculum.
Students laud his efforts and the class, and explained how they intend to implement these processes into their future congregations – congregations that will be interested in transformation. Rabbi Robert Nosanchuk (‘01) called the class a “learning lab for the [Synagogue 2000] curriculum.” Students praised the experience of rabbinical and cantorial students learning together. Cantor Kari Siegel-Eglash (‘01) noted how “incredibly valuable the interaction was between rabbinical and cantorial students,” something that Nosanchuk observed that they can extend to their synagogue lives. For applying what they learn in class, the students emphasized the importance of the details. Rabbi Philip Rice (‘01) focused on the details for creating a friendlier environment in the synagogue by using a welcoming vocabulary, and placing signage that makes navigating within the building easier. He remarked that Synagogue 2000 is “really working. It’s not just theory.” Cantor Rosalie Will Boxt (‘01) emphasized the process of taking people from where they are to where they want to go, stating that “each person needs to grow at his or her own level.”
Synagogue 2000 speaks of a guiding acronym: “PISGAH” (literally, mountain summit), the initials which represent six areas where innovation is required – Prayer, Institutional Infrastructural Deepening, Study, Good Deeds, Ambience, and Healing. Reform, Conservative, and traditional congregations all across North America are currently implementing this unique cross-denominational approach to revitalizing the synagogue.
The class and the program are working. To become involved or for additional information, please contact Harriet Lewis at (212) 824-2228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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HUC-JIR and Faculty Publications Fall 2000-Fall 2001
Dr. David H. Aaron, Biblical Ambiguities: Metaphor, Semantics and Divine Imagery (Brill). A study on how language influences interpretation of biblical texts.
Dr. Glenda Abramson, ed., Modern Jewish Mythologies (HUC Press). Eleven essays on myth in Jewish life.
Gary Ahlskog, (senior editor), Ann Akers, Rabbi Zahara Davidowitz-Farkas, Vivienne Joyce, and Alida Margolin contributed to a new textbook, entitled The Guide to Pastoral Counseling and Care (Psychosocial Press).
Dr. Isa Aron, Becoming a Congregation of Learners: Learning as a Key to Revitalizing Congregational Life (Jewish Lights). A guide to transforming synagogues through education.
Dr. Carole Balin, To Reveal Our Hearts: Jewish Women Writers in Tsarist Russia (HUC Press). A study of dozens of Jewish women writers of late 19th-early 20th century Tsarist Russia which highlights five of the most prolific and contextualizes their works.
Professor Shaul Bar, A Letter That Has Not Been Read: Dreams in the Hebrew Bible (HUC Press). A religious, historical, and literary analysis of dreams and visions in the Bible.
Dr. Martin Cohen, The Martyr (republished by the University of New Mexico Press; the original was published in 1973). A biography of Luis de Carvajal the Younger, a 16th-century cryptoJew in Latin America.
Dr. Norman Cohen, The Way Into Torah (Jewish Lights). The first of a 14-volume adult education series, this volume explores the origins and development of the Torah.
Dr. Reuven Firestone, Children of Abraham: An Introduction to Judaism for Muslims (Ktav and American Jewish Committee). An introduction to Jewish religion, history, and thought; a complementary volume to Children of Abraham: An Introduction to Islam for Jews by Khalid Duran.
Dr. Nili S. Fox, In the Service of the King: Officialdom in Ancient Israel and Judah (HUC Press). An exploration of the titles conferred on ancient officials and functionaries serving in the royal courts.
Dr. Edward Goldman, ed., Hebrew Union College Annual, Vol. 70-71. A special double volume in honor of HUC-JIR’s 125th anniversary and HUCA’s 75th anniversary which includes 18 articles and an introduction by Rabbi David Ellenson.
Dr. Alfred Gottschalk and Allon Gal, ed., Beyond Survival and Philanthropy: American Jewry and Israel (HUC Press). Israeli and American scholars, educators, journalists, and communal leaders address the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora.
Dr. Lawrence A. Hofffman, The Way Into Jewish Prayer (Jewish Lights). This volume provides a history of prayer, an explanation of the Jewish relationship to God, and a guide to praying.
Dr. Lawrence A. Hoffman, ed., My People’s Prayer Book: Seder K’riat Hatorah (The Torah Service), Vol. 4 (Jewish Lights). This 4th volume, part of an 8-volume series that provides commentary on traditional liturgy, explores the Torah service.
Dr. Mark Kligman edited the 2,500 entries on terms related to music and worship in North American traditions in the book Worship Music: A Concise Dictionary, ed. Ed Foley (Liturgical Press of America), including entries by Cantors Israel Goldstein, Benjie Ellen Schiller, Daniel Rosenfeld, Steven Weiss, Ilene Keys, Andrew Bernard, Sheila Case and David Lefkowitz.
Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, Jewish Spirituality: A Brief Introduction for Christians (Jewish Lights). An introduction which includes Talmud, midrash, and mystical and biblical stories.
Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, The Way Into Jewish Mystical Tradition (Jewish Lights). An anthology of primary Kabbalistic and Hassidic sources.
Rabbi Richard Levy, ed. and translator, On Wings of Light, the Hillel Siddur for Kabbalat Shabbat and Shabbat Evening (Ktav and Hillel).
Dr. Michael A. Meyer, Judaism Within Modernity: Essays on Jewish History and Religion (Wayne State University Press). Essays exploring Jewish historiography, Germany Jewry’s influence on American Jewry, the European Reform Movement, and Judaism in the United States.
Dr. Michael A. Meyer and W. Gunther Plaut, The Reform Judaism Reader (UAHC Press). Tracing the history of Reform Judaism from its origins to the present.
Rabbi Rachel S. Mikva, ed., Broken Tablets: Restoring the Ten Commandments and Ourselves (Jewish Lights). A collection of essays by Dr. Eugene B. Borowitz, Rabbi Laura Geller, Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, Rabbi Peter S. Knobel, Rabbi Lawrence Kushner (who also wrote the introduction), Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman, Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf. Rabbi Mikva will donate the book’s proceeds to the HUC-JIR/NY Soup Kitchen.
Dr. Carol Ochs, Our Lives as Torah: Finding God in Our Own Stories (Jossey-Bass). Personal stories showing how to recognize God in one’s life.
Dr. Carol Ochs, An Egalitarian Omer Calendar (Kolot, The Center for Jewish Women’s and Gender Studies). An omer counter with Hebrew blessings and stories of Jewish women.
Dr. Mark Washofsky, Jewish Living: A Guide to Contemporary Reform Practice (UAHC Press). A guide to incorporating Reform Jewish practice into everyday life.
Professor Stephanie Waxman, A Helping Handbook – When a Loved One is Critically Ill (Marco Press). A handbook based on Professor Waxman’s experience with her father, Stanley J. Waxman, teacher of Speech and Communications at HUC-JIR/LA for 30 years.
Dr. Nancy Wiener, Beyond Breaking the Glass: A Spiritual Guide to Your Jewish Wedding (CCAR Press). This guide helps prepare couples for traditional Jewish weddings, as well as interfaith marriages and same-sex unions.
Herbert C. Zafren, ed., and Laurel S. Wolfson, managing ed., Studies in Bibliography and Booklore, Vol. 21 (HUC-JIR Klau Library, Cincinnati). The oldest scholarly journal in English devoted to the study of Judaica and Hebraica books and bibliography, this volume includes articles on Hebrew printing and censorship in Altona, Germany and a study on a fragmentary Torah scroll from the Chinese-Jewish community in Kaifeng. For a complimentary copy, please contact email@example.com or SBB Subscriptions, Klau Library, HUC-JIR, 3101 Clifton Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45220-2488.
Dr. Michael Zeldin, ed., Journal of Jewish Education. Issue devoted to theme of “The Maturation of Research in Jewish Education.”
Dr. Gary P. Zola, ed., Dr. Fred Krome, managing ed., The American Jewish Archives Journal (The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives).
Volume LI, Nos.1&2.
The history of the American Jewish experience explored through articles on a colonial Jewish merchant, Nathan Simon, Rabbi Solomon Goldman’s involvement with the Zionist Organization of America during the period leading to the creation of Israel, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian houses for Jewish clients.
Volume LII, Nos. 1&2
This issue features an essay by Rabbi David Ellenson entitled “A Jewish Legal Authority Addresses Jewish-Christian Dialogue: Two Responsa of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein.”
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John Bergreen, beloved son of Adele and Morris Bergreen.
Morris Bergreen, treasured member of the Board of Governors for more than three decades, member of the Executive Committee, Chair of the Library, Museum and Archives Committee, and President of the Skirball Foundation.
Rabbi Alan D. Bregman, esteemed alum- nus of the Cincinnati School, Coordinator of Adult Jewish Living and Learning, and Director of Alumni Relations, HUC-JIR.
John Levine, beloved son of Aaron Levine, a member of the New York Board of Overseers.
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Lucie and Paul Peter Porges: Style and Humor
HUC-JIR Museum – New York:
September 13, 2001 – June 28, 2002
In 1938, two 12-year-old Jewish children, Lucie Eisenstab and Paul Peter Porges, fled Vienna and ultimately reached safety in Switzerland. They later settled in New York, where they embarked on extraordinary careers: Lucie as associate fashion designer at Pauline Trigère for four decades; PPP as the popular cartoonist whose work appeared regularly in The New Yorker, Mad Magazine, and The Saturday Evening Post. An exhibition about fashion, cartooning, and survival. Presented in cooperation with the Jewish Museum Vienna.
Ora Lerman: I Gave You My Song
HUC-JIR Museum – New York:
September 13 – December 16, 2001
A memorial retrospective of the celebrated artist, Ora Lerman, the daughter of Eastern European Jews who settled in Campbellsville, Kentucky. Lerman’s works combine childhood fantasies with adult musings on life.
Living in the Moment: Contemporary Artists Celebrate Jewish Time
HUC-JIR Museum – New York:
The ongoing presentation of innovative works of Jewish ceremonial art created by internationally recognized artists. These unique and limited edition works, as well as special artist commissions, are available for acquisition, so that they can enter into the lives of families and communities.
The Kindertransport Journey: Memory into History
HUC-JIR Museum – New York:
September 13, 2001 – January 4, 2002
In 1938, immediately after the “Kristallnacht” pogrom of November 9th-10th in the German Reich, the Jews of Britain initiated the unique rescue of ten thousand unaccompanied children from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland to safety in Britain prior to the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939. Photographs, letters, and artifacts illustrate the dislocation, personal bravery, and individual odysseys of these child-witnesses to history. Presented in cooperation with The Kindertransport Association.
Susan Malloy: Seasons
HUC-JIR Museum – New York:
September 13, 2001 – January 4, 2002
Susan Malloy, a life-long painter, finds inspiration in the seasonal aspects of nature. Her works distill a sense of place, the essence of the season, and the universality of forms and patterns in the landscape, to achieve a deep, spiritual resonance.
The Isidore Breslau (’28) Collection
Klau Library – New York
November 5, 2001 – June 28, 2002
Rare and unusual scrolls, including an Esther Scroll by Salvatore Sangiovi, Mantua, 1608, and a late 19th century Ecclesiastes Scroll of Dutch provenance.
Mapping our Tears
Skirball Museum – Cincinnati:
November 11, 2001 – June 28, 2002
Testimony and historical artifacts, presented through innovative and interactive video technology, present the extraordinary stories of Holocaust survivors and liberators from the Cincinnati area.
Ruth Weisberg: The Open Door Haggadah
Skirball Museum – Cincinnati:
December 15, 2001 – February 15, 2002;
HUC-JIR Museum – New York:
February 28 – June 28, 2002
Ruth Weisberg’s exquisite drawings for the Reform Movement’s new Haggadah express the spiritual and narrative dimensions of traditional and innovative Jewish text. Presented in conjunction with the publication of The Open Door, A New Haggadah, edited by Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell (CCAR Press).
Yaacov Chefetz: There They Will Try to Change Your Name
HUC-JIR Museum – New York:
January 10 – February 24, 2002
Israeli artist Yaacov Chefetz explores the evolution and psychology of Israeli identity, from the optimistic Zionism of the pioneer-builders of the fledgling state to the current angst of a country struggling to secure peace and stability in a volatile region.
Presented with the support of the New York-Israel Cultural Cooperation Commission.
Skirball Museum – Cincinnati
Museum Hours: Mondays through Thursdays, 11 am – 4 pm
Sundays, 2 pm – 5 pm
Group tours and information: 513-221-1875, ext. 358
Klau Library – New York
Hours: Mondays through Thursdays, 9am-5pm
HUC-JIR Museum – New York
Museum Hours: Mondays through Thursdays, 9 am – 6 pm
Fridays, 9 am – 3 pm, Selected Sundays, 10 am – 2 pm:
September 16; October 14, 28; November 11;
December 2, 16, January 27, February 24; March 17; April 14, 28.
Group Tours and Information: 212-824-2205
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