The Chronicle #61- Fall 2003

ADA Version of Chronicle #61 – Fall 2003


The Women Faculty of HUC-JIR


President’s Message

Founders’ Day Album

An Unfolding Revolution… A New Generation of Israeli Reform Rabbinical Students are Poised to Change the Map of Israeli Religious Life

The Women Faculty of HUC-JIR

Cutting-Edge Scholarship

Barbara and Stephen Friedman Chair in Liturgy, Worship, and Ritual Inaugurated

To Collect, Preserve, and Provide Access to the Total Record of Jewish Thought and Experience: The Klau Library in Cincinnati

Lighting the Way to a More Ethical World: The HUC-UC Center for the Study of Ethics and Contemporary Moral Problems

New Directions for Jewish Education: The Rhea Hirsch School of Education

Biblical Ambiguities: Metaphor, Semantics, and Divine Imagery

The Self-Renewing Congregation: Organizational Strategies for Revitalizing Congregational Life

HUC-JIR Council of Alumni Associations

Alumni Honored at Founder’s Day 2003

2003 Jerusalem Album


HUC-JIR and Faculty Publications

In Memoriam

Faculty and Administration Appointments

On View at HUC-JIR’s Museums


The Chronicle is published by the National Office of Public Affairs.
Editor: Jean Bloch Rosensaft
Assistant Editor: Ruth Friedman
Contributors: Amy Bebchick, Ginny Ben-Ari, Richard Rosenbaum, Sarah Schriever
Design: Tabak Design
Photo Credits: Isaac Harari, Andrew Higley, Ariel Jerozolimski, Richard Lobell, Marvin Steindler


President’s Message


The late Yale University Law School Professor Robert Cover, in a seminal article, “Nomos and Narrative,” published in the Harvard Law Review in 1983, noted that the legal system of every community is embedded in a larger chronicle of communal purpose. Discrete instances and applications of law are reflective of larger principles and ideals contained in the “master narrative” of the community, and they bespeak the never-ending attempts of judges and legislators to apply and realize these principles and ideals in real life.

In the case of the United States, the law reflects an overarch- ing narrative that begins with a revolutionary quest for liberty and justice and culminates with the framing of a constitution that affirms the innate dignity and equality of every citizen.

The history of the American people represents an attempt to establish a way of life in concert with these ideals, and the pur- pose of the legal system is to allow for the ongoing creation of rules and principles that grant concrete expression to the root notions of freedom and human rights contained in the “master story” of the nation. Professor Cover bids us recognize that Empire of Law is marked by never-ending acts of construction and creation, for the tasks that Law confronts – the achievement of absolute justice embodied in the “master story” – can never be fully attained – only approximated – as the moral destiny of a community unfolds.

The teachings of Professor Cover are particularly appropriate for Jews to recount at this time of year. His instruction asks that we be mindful that there is a “master story” that informs and guides the Jewish people no less stirring than that which inspires and directs the American nation. This story begins with the arrival of Hag ha-aviv – the holiday of Passover that marks the rebirth of nature in Spring – and concludes with Hag ha-bikkurim – the Shavuot festival of first fruits that presages the onset of Summer.

However, these festivals are not of agricultural import alone. Passover is z’man heiruteinu, the time of our freedom, and Shavuot is labeled z’man matan torateinu, the time marked by the giving of the Teaching. The core values of our people as related in these festivals are ones that couple notions of liberation and freedom with the values of righteousness and integrity that the Torah commands. The ongoing story of the Jewish people throughout time reveals the continuing and often imperfect attempts put forth by each generation of Jews to realize the messianic imperatives contained in this master Jewish narrative.

The Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion self- consciously locates itself within this unending quest for the attainment of these messianic goals, and this issue of The Chronicle celebrates and reports on current efforts being made at all our centers of learning to realize these visions that lie at the heart of our Tradition’s “master story.” The reader will see the remarkable events that are unfolding on our Jerusalem campus where a new generation of native Israeli Reform rabbis is being educated to promote the growth of progressive Jewish values and institutions in the Jewish state. No project could be of greater import to the future of Medinat Yisrael and the Jewish people The Chronicle is also particularly proud to feature the women faculty who now teach and mentor, study, and conduct research at all four of our sites. During the last decade, the appearanceof women faculty at HUC-JIR has become commonplace, and my predecessor Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman and our Provost Norman Cohen have been largely responsible for the appointment and promotion of these twenty-four women as full-time faculty at the College-Institute. These women are among the most academically talented and Jewishly-dedicated scholars in their fields. HUC-JIR is privileged to be the venue where they employ their talents to educate future generations of Jewish religious, communal, and academic leaders. The appearance of these women on our faculty indicates that a messianic ideal of inclu- sion is now in the process of realization.

The Chronicle is also proud to report and celebrate the academic and communal achievements of our faculty and their research. The lifetime achievements of Lawrence Hoffman and the unprecedented generosity of Barbara and Stephen Friedman in endowing the Barbara and Stephen Friedman Chair in Liturgy, Worship, and Ritual are highlighted.

We recognize the pathbreaking aca- demic scholarship of David Aaron in the field of biblical interpretation, and the innovative applied scholarship of Isa Aron, as well. The literary and com- munal treasures housed in our Klau Library, the efforts of our Ethics Center on the Cincinnati campus to dissemi- nate the ethical teachings of Jewish tradition, and our cutting edge educa- tion projects also are featured.

There are other items contained in these pages that indicate that much else is also occurring at HUC-JIR today. Future issues will report on other matters that are equally deserving of notice, for the ongoing story of the Jewish people and our reli- gion as well as the role that HUC-JIR will play in that unfolding narrative are still being written. In the meantime, enjoy what has been recorded and know that the College-Institute remains determined to be a place of inspiration and learning where future leaders of the Jewish people will be educated so as to reflect and apply the enduring values and aspirations that stand at the heart of the Jewish story.

B’virkat hag Shavuot sameah – with warmest greetings for a happy and meaningful Shavuot.

Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D

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Founders’ Day Album

Each year, Founders’ Day Ceremonies celebrate the vision of Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, founder of HUC in 1875 in Cincinnati, and of Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, founder of the JIR in 1922 in New York. Inspired by their legacy, the College-Institute’s academic programs, facul- ty, and students are committed to fulfilling their mission of a Judaism responsive to moderni- ty. On Founders’ Day, the College-Institute honors distinguished alumni for devoted years of service as preservers and teachers of Judaism’s faith, culture, and communal ethics. As leaders of Jewish communities throughout the world, they forge the links of Jewish scholarship and spirituality that ensure the continuity of our heritage for the generations to come.

New York: Rabbinical alumni awarded the Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa.

New York: Cantorial alumni awarded the Doctor of Music, honoris causa.

New York: Education alumni awarded the Doctor of Jewish Religious Education, honoris causa.

Cincinnati: Honorary Doctor of Divinity and Doctor of Jewish Communal Service degree recipients.

Los Angeles Founders’ Day Kallah: Rabbi Lewis

M. Barth, Ph.D., Dean HUC- JIR; Rabbi Sanford Ragins, Founders Day Speaker; Rabbi Jerrold Goldstein, Director, Introduction to Judaism, UAHC

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HUC-JIR invites you to:

Visit our website –, your key resource for information on admissions, news and publications, academics and student life, libraries, museums, archives, research centers and projects, faculty and administration, alumni, and continuing education and youth programs.

Post Your News with KESHER!

Kesher, the semi-annual electronic newsletter for alumni, students, faculty, administration, and friends of HUC-JIR, wants to share your professional and personal news. Please send your news by June 15 for the July 2003 online edition to the Kesher Editor, Ruth Friedman, at

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If you would like to be the first to receive HUC-JIR’s news, please subscribe to our e-mail news service by e-mailing your name and address to Sarah Schriever at

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An Unfolding Revolution…
A New Generation of Israeli Reform Rabbinical Students are Poised to Change the Map of Israeli Religious Life

by Dr. Michael Marmur
Dean, HUC-JIR/Jerusalem

Here’s one revolution you won’t hear about on CNN. But you may just end up reading about it on the pages of Jewish history. Swiftly and almost unnoticed, exponential growth is taking place at the Jerusalem campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. In the space of five years, the Israel Rabbinical Program has doubled in size, and then doubled again. Suddenly, large numbers of Israelis are applying every year to study for a profession that only a few years ago seemed implausible: the Israeli Reform rabbinate.

More and more Jewish Israelis are searching for a way to express themselves as Jews and as Israelis. There are more and more Reform communities, more and more life cycle events, more and more exposure to Reform in the Israeli education system. As the demand for a Reform alternative grows, the question becomes urgent: can we find and train the people to meet the challenge? Will a modern Judaism survive and thrive in the Jewish State?

Why Now?
Something big is happening in Israel. The kinds of attitudes that have sustained Israeli society for decades about Religion and State and a range of other issues are now sounding increasingly hollow. In many ways Israel is in crisis, and Israelis from all walks of life are re-examining their commitments and searching for new paths.

For decades Jewish Israelis were offered one way to understand their identity. It was a kind of binary system, according to which one was either Orthodox or Secular. There was hardly any place for anything beyond these two default options. But there are now palpable signs that this is changing.

Thousands of Israelis are now turning to our rabbis, our institutions, and our congregations in search of meaningful life cycle events, study opportunities, and community activities. Many of Israel’s leading politicians and public figures now come to our communities to pray and to celebrate. Fifteen years ago Israeli Reform was beyond the pale. Today, it is the coming thing.

If Reform Judaism is to offer Israelis a new voice in their search for meaning and direction, a serious leadership generation has to be kick-started. The students and graduates of our Israel Rabbinical Program are charged with the task of revitalizing and, in a sense, reinventing non-Orthodox Judaism in the Jewish State. They are talented and motivated to create structures and institutions that can help meet this sacred challenge.

Who Are Our Students?
Ayala, Alona, Aharon and Golan [see sidebar] are but four out of the 35 students enrolled in the Israel Rabbinical Program of HUCJIR. Eighteen are women. Eight were born in the Former Soviet Union, and one student comes from each of the following, respectively: Buenos Aires, Amsterdam, Brooklyn and London. The rest are sabras, Israeli-born. Four were born and raised Orthodox. Two were born and raised on highly secular kibbutzim. Three have completed doctorates, including one student with a tenured position at an Israeli university. Four others are in doctoral programs. All of the students are engaged in advanced academic studies, and the fields in which they specialize include Mysticism, History, Talmud, Bible, Liturgy, Jewish Philosophy, Literature, and more. Five of them are officers in the IDF. The average age of the students is a little under 35.

This is the most diverse group of men and women ever to study for the Reform rabbinate in the history of our Movement. The numbers, though small, represent many more than the program has ever ordained since Motti Rotem became its first graduate in 1980.

Once these students are ordained, they will work as congregational rabbis, or fulfill other roles within the ambit of Israeli Reform Judaism. Yet others may serve communities abroad, particularly in the Former Soviet Union. And it is reasonable to assume that we will see graduates of the Israel Rabbinic Program serving as school principals, leading figures in community service, academia, the arts, and more.

The Syllabus
What should an Israeli rabbi know? The short answer to the question is, perhaps, everything and more. Our graduates are expected to earn the respect of the public at large, be prepared to deal with complex personal and institutional dynamics, and speak informally to audiences which may be uninformed or even openly hostile. They have to try and find a way to articulate a modern Judaism which is rooted authentically in the tradition, and yet is genuinely responsive to the needs of a society in transition.

In order to meet these almost impossible demands, the Program has been structured to combine academic endeavor, professional expertise, and spiritual growth. The Program typically lasts four years and, at the same time, students are required to complete an M.A. degree in a field of Jewish Studies in one of Israel’s premier universities. Faculty includes full-time HUC-JIR scholars alongside many of Israel’s brightest and best educators in areas as diverse as Talmud, Bible, Liturgy, Islam, Homiletics, Jewish Art, Management Skills, Counseling, Mysticism, and Modern Hebrew Literature.

Forging an International Community
One of the most exciting developments of recent years has been the deepening relationship between HUC-JIR’s Israeli students and North American students spending their required first year of study at our Jerusalem School. If there is hope for the long-term relationship between Israel and the Diaspora, that hope lies in people-to-people relationships. This year the links forged between students on the various programs have been stronger than ever before. A retreat in which the Israelis and North Americans can socialize and study together has been organized on the initiative of the students themselves.

Crossing Denominational Boundaries
The College-Institute is part of a cuttingedge initiative designed to ensure that the denominational barriers dividing Israelis today may yet become a thing of the past. A number of our students participate in a joint project with students from the Conservative Schechter Institute, the Secular Oranim Institute, and a well-known Orthodox yeshiva. Students are given the opportunity to break down stereotypes and to collaborate on program planning and study. We hope and pray that the fruits of this initiative will be felt in the decades to come.

Our Graduates Lead The Way
The Israel Rabbinical Program has produced, to date, twenty-eight leaders distinguished for their extraordinary leadership and achievement. Some have become renowned in Israeli public and spiritual life, including Uri Regev, founder of the Israel Religious Action Center and Executive Director of the World Union for Progressive Judaism; Meir Azari, founding rabbi of Beit Daniel Congregation in Tel Aviv; Maya Leibovic, founding rabbi of the burgeoning congregation in Mevasseret, just outside Jerusalem; Gregoriy Kotlar, our first graduate from the FSU, now rabbi of our Movement’s congregation in Moscow. Others, too, are on their way to becoming leaders of note. In addition, a number of the Program’s graduates now play an active role on our faculty, where they join in the pioneering task of creating a course of study for the Israeli religious leadership of tomorrow.

The Administrative Team
Both the father and grandfather of Dr. Yehoyada Amir were ordained as Reform rabbis by the Rabbinical Seminary in Berlin. Dr. Amir, known to everyone as Yoki, has gone on to become one of the rising stars of the Jewish Thought Department of the Hebrew University. Four years ago he took over as Director of the Israel Rabbinical Program at HUC-JIR and, under his tenure, there has been spectacular growth. There have been more applicants for the Program in one year than had applied during the previous three decades. With his combination of academic rigor and commitment to liberal educational principles, Yoki has helped create an atmosphere of excellence and commitment in which a diverse group of students can interact.

This year, while Yoki is spending time at HUC-JIR’s Los Angeles School, Rabbi Ada Zavidov is supervising the Program. A graduate of our Program, Ada brings an illustrious family history together with her own extraordinary personal qualities to her work. Ada’s grandfather, Abba Achimeir, was one of the most influential thinkers and activists in the right-wing Revisionist movement, and she was brought up in a thoroughly secular Israeli environment. Her own path to the rabbinate was itself a fascinating journey, and she now shares the task of helping others pursue their dreams.

Another key member of the team is Rabbi Naamah Kelman, the first woman graduate of our Program and director of our Department of Educational Initiatives. Naamah’s maternal grandfather, the great Reform rabbi Felix Levy, would undoubtedly have glowed with pride at the sight of his granddaughter playing a key role in the education and formation of tomorrow’s Israeli Reform leadership.

The Vision
Speaking at his Inauguration as HUC-JIR President, Rabbi David Ellenson left no one in any doubt as to his commitment to the growth of this program. New faculty positions will be opened up and the Israel Rabbinical Program will be set on a sound economic basis.

The developments described here – the exponential growth of the program to ordain Israeli Reform Rabbis – has been made possible through the vision and generosity of a few individuals and foundations, most notably Morton Meyerson from Dallas, TX, the Goldman Family Fund from San Francisco, CA, and Peter Joseph and Elizabeth Scheuer from New York City. Their seed investment has born fruit at a pace that no one could have anticipated. The challenge is now to continue to strengthen the various programs of HUC-JIR/Jerusalem for North Americans, Israelis, and others from around the world.

Crisis and Birth
The Hebrew word for crisis, mashber, also means birth. Israel is today undergoing a profound crisis, but it is both a belief and a prediction that it will emerge from this crisis with resilience and an overwhelming will to live. In order for this crisis to be an opportunity for regeneration, men and women of extraordinary quality will need to step up and lead Israeli society in new directions – social, economic, cultural, and spiritual. Our graduates are already out in the field as the battle for Israel’s physical survival and spiritual wellbeing is being fought.

HUC-JIR/Jerusalem is making sure, after the dust has settled and the noise has died down, that Israel is set to face its great challenge: the encounter of Judaism with modernity. It is this encounter which has always been at the heart of Reform Judaism. It is this encounter which will now determine whether Israel is to stride forward to its destiny. Nobody may yet have noticed, but it’s Ayala, Aharon, Alona, Golan, and their colleagues who are going to be key players in this historic undertaking.

Meet Some of Israel’s future Reform leaders:

Middle East meets West
Ayala Meron-Shashua was born in Israel in the late 1950s to Iraqi-born parents and grew up in a suburb near Tel Aviv. After completing her Army service Ayala studied for a Liberal Arts university degree, married her husband Avi, and the young couple started raising a family. Ayala’s first encounter with non-Orthodox religious Judaism came in the mid-1980s, when she and her family came to Los Angeles for a few years. Enrolled as a graduate student at UCLA, Ayala began to meet practitioners of a Judaism she had never before encountered. She found herself drawn particularly to Jewish meditation practices and new approaches to prayer and spirituality. Returning to Israel with her family after ten years in the United States, Ayala took up a research and teaching position at the Center for Iraqi Jewish Heritage. When she decided to interview at HUC-JIR in Jerusalem she explained to the Admissions Committee that, for her, Progressive Judaism could offer an opportunity to find a bridge between modern, Western ideas and the particular cadences of the oriental Jewish heritage.

Shifting Identities
For the first eighteen years of his life Aharon Fox was completely immersed in the UltraOrthodox world. Then he shocked his family by announcing that he was going to serve in the Israel Defence Forces. He stayed in the paratroopers for ten years, reaching officer rank. In the course of those years Aharon decided to leave his Orthodox upbringing behind him. He moved to a secular kibbutz, married and started a family. Upon leaving the Army Aharon felt drawn to education and, before long, had become a senior teacher in one of Israel’s premier high schools. His field is Talmud and Rabbinics and, after a while, his personal search led him to apply to HUC-JIR in search of an approach that was neither Ultra-Orthodox nor Ultra-Secular.

Genuine Openness
Alona Licizca was born in Kiev in the Ukraine. She came to Israel in 1991. A mother of two, Alona holds degrees in Spanish literature and English linguistics, and has worked as coordinator of the Russian Department of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism. She hesitated for some time between the HUC-JIR program and that offered by the Schechter Institute, affiliated with the Conservative Movement, and opted for HUC-JIR. “The thing I appreciate most within the Reform Movement is its openness, its readiness to discuss any idea, its pluralism, and its genuine willingness to confront problems. So, for me, the decision was clear,” Alona explains.

Golan’s Heights
Golan Ben-Chorin is a third-generation Israeli Reform Jew. His grandfather was one of the founders of Reform Judaism in Israel, which he brought with him from Germany upon making aliyah. His father was the first Israeli-born Reform rabbi. Golan imbibed the spirit and values of the Movement from his earliest years. In his own right, he has become a pioneer of informal Jewish education and is currently working on a doctorate in this field. He combines a keen intellect with a great sensitivity for prayer and music and proven organizational skills. Reflecting on his decision to join the program, Golan says that such a step is, for him, “a natural progression and a tremendous opportunity to continue my personal growth.” And what of the future? Golan responds: “I hope to contribute my educational expertise and rabbinical skills to grounding the Reform Movement in Israel as an authentic Israeli entity.”

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The Women Faculty of HUC-JIR

by Jean Bloch Rosensaft

As of 2003, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion has the foremost Jewish women’s faculty in the largest Jewish faculty of Judaic studies outside of Israel! Where once HUC-JIR’s faculty was overwhelmingly male, over the past seven years ten out of seventeen tenure-track new faculty appointments have been women. Today, there are 24 full-time women faculty enriching every aspect of HUC-JIR’s professional and academic programs.

With areas of scholarly expertise encompassing ancient Near Eastern culture, rabbinic literature, Tanakh, human relations and pastoral training, contemporary liturgical music and performance, Jewish education, Talmud, leadership development and strategic planning, medieval Hebrew poetry, spiritual guidance, Hebrew language and linguistics, ritual studies, Jewish history, and Jewish feminist and Hebrew literature, these women scholars are contributing innovative research, pedagogy, and mentorship to HUC-JIR’s learning community. In doing so, they are enhancing their students’ educational, spiritual, and professional development, transforming the field of Judaic studies, and contributing to the intellectual vitality of the next generation of Jewish leaders for the Reform Movement and klal Yisrael.

In interviews with The Chronicle, HUC-JIR’s women faculty shared insights into their current areas of research and publication, their feminist and other innovative approaches to their studies and teaching, and the relationship between their scholarship and the classroom, where students benefit from the newest trends in academic inquiry. They also reflected on the unique aspects of teaching in a seminary setting, their mentoring relationships with their students, their aspirations for their students’ future, and HUC-JIR’s core mission.

Enriching the Classroom

“Everything I do is related to feminism,” notes Rachel Adler. “I see people as embodied human beings and am drawn to what is ambiguous and not easily categorized. My work has to do with how people are affected within all their complex relationships. This informs my teaching, as in my advanced seminar on constructing theologies on pain and suffering. My students bring their field work experiences to the class, so that we are not only talking theory but about real human beings. Talmud, Tanakh, medical anthropology, experimental liturgy, and Jewish philosophy are all brought to bear on problems – on being present with people to whom bad things are happening.”

Tamara Cohn Eskenazi adds, “We want to bring the women of the Torah from the shadows into the limelight, from their silences into speech, from the margins to which they have often been relegated to the center of the page. Throughout our history, our human and Jewish family has been sorely deprived of half of our ancestors – we are ready to become a more complete community. In practice this entails looking closely at texts where women appear but asking also why they do not appear elsewhere where they belong. It means listening to their words and listening even harder to their silences.”

When teaching Talmud, Dvora Weisberg says “I am sensitive to the fact that women had for thousands of years been excluded from the study of Talmud and were thus excluded from rabbinic/legal decision making in the Jewish community. Thus, much of my work and teaching touches on issues of gender, cognizant that my own gender influences the way I read classical rabbinic texts, and incorporates the feminist critique of rabbinic Judaism that began in the 1970s and continues today.”

According to Alyssa Gray, feminist methodology has a lot to contribute. “It is reading the texts with an eye to the fact that these texts were written by men for men. They largely reflect male concerns. And you have to read very carefully between the lines in order to discover any other voices that are there. So I really see it in the sense of the hermeneutics of suspicion, a woman reading these texts to go beneath the surface and to try to see what she can see.”

Looking at the Bible as literature and the psychological issues of memory are relatively new approaches in scholarship. As a specialist in the literary aspects of the Tanakh, Andrea Weiss applies methodologies adopted from the field of linguistics to the study of metaphor in the Bible. “I focus on teaching the students how to read biblical poetry by analyzing such literary features as key words, repetition, patterns, structure, and imagery. For example, given the current interest in the names and images for God used liturgically, I want to make sure that my students know that in the sixth century B.C.E., Second Isaiah employed maternal imagery when speaking about God.”

Similarly, Hélène Dallaire feels that students must understand the basic framework of a language in order to appreciate fully the content of a text. “An understanding of the linguistic features of Hebrew prose and poetry allows students to appreciate the multiple layers of the text and do accurate exegesis.”

Wendy Zierler explains, “I often teach courses that examine the process by which modern literary sources continue the work on classical midrash and exegesis, in that they respond to and re-evaluate the ‘tradition,’ and therefore combine classical/ancient and modern/postmodern material. In my course on the Bible in modern Hebrew women’s writing, for example, we did close readings of biblical texts and then saw how feminist critics and modern Hebrew women writers continue that task of interpretation. When co-teaching a course on popular culture and theology with Dr. Eugene Borowitz, I look at ways in which films, television, and current cultural phenomena can provide a springboard for theological and religious discussion.”

Carole Balin’s history courses challenge her students to think conceptually and personally in answering such questions as “How can I connect collective Jewish memory with the Jewish past?” She designed a course called “Exploding Jewish Myths” in which the students explored Jews in relation to categories of gender, race, and class “in order to analyze and explode those timeworn stereotypes that continue to influence the ways that we think about ourselves as Jews and the ways others perceive us as Jews, and as women. The intersection of memory and history is always at play in my classes.”

In Sharon Gillerman’s view, feminist scholarship has not yet been integrated into the mainstream of the Jewish kind of master narrative. In her course on “Constructing Modern Jewish Identities,” she recounts how Jewish women were held accountable during the Weimar Republic for the crisis in the Jewish family and the decline of the Jewish community. In fact, she explains, Jewish women were treading somewhere between total assimilation and the small minority of Zionists. “Through social work, they emphasized creating institutions to support the family and Jewish life and were expanding the more narrow definition of the Jewish community from a religious community towards an ethnic one.”

The pastoral counseling courses demonstrate how counseling, spirituality, and the ritual aspects of life all come together. Nancy Wiener looks atcounseling as it relates to “our sense of wholeness in the world not only when we are broken, but when we’re just living day to day.” The life cycle courses recognize that beyond the primary participants in a ceremony, the whole family system is affected, “so that we are looking at the multigenerational effect of a simple, or not so simple, moment in one person’s life and the ways in which roles in self-definition for everyone get altered at a time of transition.”

Benjie Schiller alludes to feminism and the relatively new role for women’s voices as cantors and rabbis. “The orientation of a woman plays into the developing and changing dimensions of rabbinical and cantorial leadership. So much of the Jewish liturgical and cantorial repertoire was idiomatic for a man and written by men for a man’s voice. We now have the opportunity to add colors to that palette, to enrich and transform it with the best of what a woman’s voice can offer in a genuine way.”

For Marla Eglash Abraham, scholarship, research, and teaching are one and the same. “I introduce many case studies in my teaching for the Jewish communal service program. Most recently, we studied the action of the emergency advisory board that helped save a local Jewish Community Center. These experiences make the learning come alive for my students as well as keep them in touch with current communal challenges.”

For some faculty, research extends to special opportunities to work closely with individual students. “I collaborated on an article with a graduate student, Angela Roskop, which was an incredible learning experience for both of us. The subject was an anthropomorphic rattle — an artifact that Nelson Glueck donated to the Cincinnati Art Museum,” describes Nili Fox. “Our research incorporated gender studies in that certain musical instruments, including rattles, were mostly within the purview of women in antiquity.”

The study of Hebrew language, itself, is a modum for leadership training. In Rivka Dori’s Hebrew language classes, she teaches her students “to think critically, understand the importance of context and the power of interpretation, appreciate Hebrew language as a Jewish value, connect with other Jews, including Israelis, and learn to be tolerant and pluralistic.”

Being pluralistic is intrinsic to inclusivity, which is the watchword of Jo Kay’s innovative approach to teaching Jewish education. “We have to stop thinking about the ideal Jewish family and adjust our work to the realities of the Jewish community today, as reflected in the new population studies: diversity, single parent families, newly affiliated Jews, families with interfaith relatives. We need to figure out the ways in which we can help them feel welcome within the community.”

The Seminary Setting
HUC-JIR’s women faculty members have pursued their graduate and professional training and previous teaching positions in a variety of institutions, ranging from secular universities to Judaism’s rabbinical seminaries. Their previous experiences and current work as HUC-JIR faculty offer profound insights into the unique qualities of teaching at the College-Institute, where they also encounter personal gratification through their key role in molding the next generation of Jewish leaders. They recognize that, through their students, their teaching at HUC-JIR will filter into the larger Jewish population in ways that will enhance Jewish literacy and affiliation.

“When I was a graduate student in Jewish history at Columbia, there was something very different about studying Jewish history as an academic pursuit when I was emotionally tied to everything that I was learning,” says Nancy Wiener. “At HUC-JIR, students can learn about Judaism in an environment where their own religious identity, and their desire to be expressive about the connection they feel with Judaism, will be honored and promoted. To be able to teach here is to be able to bring all of this knowledge to people who are thirsting for it and who want to know how they can make it part of their lives and bring it to other people who are seeking to find meaning in their lives.”

Carole Balin explains, “I remember being a Teaching Assistant at Columbia. When I was asked to teach a section on Buber’s philosophy, I found it difficult. I was already an ordained rabbi at the time and had studied with Dr. Eugene Borowitz, but I couldn’t teach it like Borowitz. I wasn’t able to present Buber’s theology as a theological option that students could elect as their own. Instead, the secular university setting limited me to teaching Buber’s philosophy as if it were data – do with it as you will.”

Rachel Adler adds, “I gave up teaching at a secular university and much prefer teaching at a seminary because my concern is helping to shape the Reform Judaism of the next century – I want to do that more than anything in the world – and this is the place to do it. I want to talk to my students in specifically Jewish language – something I only can do in this seminary setting.”

Benjie Schiller’s courses are geared toward preparing cantorial students “to make the religious experience for contemporary Jews soulful, genuine, and a sincere form of communication.” She seeks to train her students to not only master the technical skills and knowledge base of liturgy, repertoire, and musical style, and to incorporate the best of all Jewish historical and ethnic musical traditions, but to make them “transcendent as leaders of prayer, balancing ancient and modern styles to create a dynamic spiritual experience.”

Alyssa Gray reflects on teaching Halakhah in a Reform seminary – an institution training leadership for a Movement that is not bound by traditional Jewish law. “It’s part of our history and literary heritage – all of it is sacred, although not all of it is necessarily binding. So there is really no inconsistency in someone studying the whole Halakhic heritage and yet maintaining ideologically that they have the autonomy to choose from within that heritage. I believe very firmly that the Jewish people as a whole has an obligation to study the entire Jewish heritage. What you do with it then, that’s up to whatever your denominational ideology is.”

For Sara Lee, Jewish education as it exists today sometimes looks more like cultural education than religious education. But at HUC-JIR, students are enriched by a seminary environment and they emerge with a real set of religious commitments and spiritual questions which could easily not happen in a non-seminary setting. “Education students lead services here, they are involved in discussions about matters of the spirit as they study side-by-side with rabbinical students, beginning with their first year in Israel. They are committed to thinking about what it means to educate for faith in a pluralistic religious world.”

“In a secular environment,” Jo Kay adds, “you don’t have the opportunity to engage in conversations that involve rabbis, cantors, and educators all the time. At HUC-JIR, you’re living and learning in this microcosm of the world that you’re training to go out and work in.”

When their teaching involves HUC-JIR’s non-Jewish graduate and undergraduate students, women faculty members appreciate how their teaching influences those of other faiths to have a better understanding of Judaism.

Nili Fox teaches courses in which rabbinical students and graduate students, many of whom are Christian, study together. “There is a lot of learning in such a setting that has nothing to do with the subject matter. Beyond mastering proficiency in the content of the course, these students’ dialogue and hevruta (study partnerships) promote tolerance and understanding. As future Christian clerics and college educators, learning together with future rabbis affects the way they think about Jews, Israel, and Jewish texts. In a neutral, secular academic environment, they might learn the material, but without any religious or faith identity context.”

Yaffa Weisman’s comparative literature courses present Jewish and Christian texts from the second Temple period to undergraduate students from USC, for whom HUC-JIR’s Louchheim School serves as the Judaic Studies department. “I try to have my students understand the difference between reading from a faith-based perspective and an academic perspective. Since most of them are not Jewish, I attempt to have them identify and understand the Jewish concepts that underline early Christianity and the implications of such a dynamic for both faiths.”

Some members of the faculty believe that their work can only be done in a seminary setting, because “I am working with Jewish education, specifically with synagogues!” notes Isa Aron. Lauding the College-Institute as an environment in which “we can be unabashedly in favor of being religious,” Lisa Grant agrees, “This is where I belong!”

Even on a personal level, the seminary setting at HUC-JIR provides opportunities for growth. “One of the things I appreciate most is that we have tefillah four days a week and that spirituality is part of my daily work life,” says Marla Eglash Abraham. “I love the fact that weaving Judaica into tactical subjects like fundraising and supervision is natural for me to do here.”

Learning for Life
Having chosen to teach at the CollegeInstitute, these women faculty members’ aspirations transcend mere mastery of the course material by their students. They hope that their students will integrate intellectual and spiritual growth as well as the intrinsic values and ethics that are indispensable to becoming Jewish leaders. Rachel Adler notes “people who undertake ethical tasks do not come as blank slates. We bring our lives and memories, our abilities and interests, our commitments and dreams. I expect integrity from my students – not to settle for easy answers but to be willing to be challenged and dig deep.”

Alyssa Gray hopes that when her students confront situations in their rabbinate – and people come to them with questions about values or direction – that they will look to their studies in Rabbinics and Halakhah as part of their toolbox for helping people with issues.

“In my 8th century Prophets Bible course, as students work to understand the prophet’s message and its geographic, political, and cultural context, I ask them to reflect upon how these texts speak to them personally,” says Andrea Weiss. “What theological questions do the prophets raise for you? How do the prophetic writings contribute to your evolving relationship with God and understanding of the experience of the Jewish people? What lessons can you learn from the prophets as you develop your skills as a leader and public speaker? How can you integrate what you learn in this class into your work as a rabbi?”

“Reading together about the emergence of King Saul and King David, we encounter that at that core of our tradition is a text that reflects seriously and honestly on questions of leadership, power, and abuse of power that are so relevant to us as we face the uncertainties of our world,” says Adrian Leveen. “Torah is central to everything our students will end up doing in their professional lives and I know that all of their discoveries will inform how they transmit this text to others. The most satisfying part of my job is knowing that I am engaged in transmitting an incredibly rich tradition and they, in turn, are the next link in that chain as they do the same.”

In her teaching, Lisa Grant stresses that before you can teach anything, you have to be able to make meaning for it for yourself. It means being Jewishly literate, confident, armed with the tools for encountering Jewish tradition, and versed with a broad repertoire upon which to draw. “You not only have a story to tell, but values and principles that you’re trying to embody as a teacher.”

Text as well as history courses at HUC-JIR provide students with both inspiration and role models and a sense of responsibility for what it means to truly be a leader. Throughout the millennia of Jewish existence, the actions of an individual or a group have contributed to Jewish survival, or not. Carole Balin agrees, and expresses her hopes that “her students will recognize that they themselves are builders of that history.”

Sharon Gillerman wants her students to learn to think critically about how Jewish identity is constructed, and to analyze communal discourse, popular images, books of history and to see that all of them are constructed in ways to affirm identity or, in some cases, to deny identity. “My hope is that the skills learned in my classes will be applied in the way they view the world around them, the way they view their congregants, and the way in which they interpret contemporary and current events.”

“I hope my students learn the responsibility they carry as human beings and as rabbis in the community,” states Ruth Alpers, formerly a congregational rabbi whose students are now her congregation. “I expect them to apply the knowledge of learning how to be in a relationship with people, learning to listen to people, and understanding that pastoral care is relational and not just visiting someone in the hospital – that it is in every soul to soul encounter that will potentially impact every human being that they meet, within their communities and beyond.”

Studying at HUC-JIR is intended to be a transformative experience. “Our students’ hearts have been opened through their experiences as part of our school community. They will continue to find ways to perpetuate that in their own lives – through social action, prayer, and lifelong learning – so that they can lead full Jewish lives and create communities of meaning,” Benjie Schiller predicts.

Sara Lee goes further. “Jewish leadership is so variegated in how and where it is delivered. At the same time as we prepare our students to be very functional in today’s realities, we want to prepare them also to be visionaries and agents for change.”

Mentorship and Supervision
Mentorship and supervision are essential ingredients in the ongoing relationships between faculty and students. With the integrated core curriculum for the rabbinical program, which is now being implemented, and its implications for HUC-JIR’s other professional and academic programs, there is an intensified effort to bring together the three core dimensions of higher Jewish learning at the College-Institute: intensive Judaic studies, professional development, and spiritual growth. Each of these areas is reinforced by the faculty’s commitment to mentor and supervise, whether through regular meetings to discuss theses, one-on-one sessions to monitor student internships and review students’ journals, and personal spiritual guidance.

Sara Lee insists “HUC-JIR is not just turning out practitioners, but people who see themselves in academic, spiritual, and professional dimensions.” Mentorship facilitates this integration and lifelong growth – especially the lifetime warranty of mentorship now offered to HUC-JIR alumni!

“We’re really focused now on looking at how we are teaching counseling, and learning from the field of psychology, so that it relates to the study of Jewish texts,” says Nancy Wiener. “We want our students to access Jewish text and ritual as part of the counseling they do, so that they see how their professional development overlaps with their intellectual studies.” When HUC-JIR students have congregational placements, she “helps them figure out what it is they want to be learning and how their experiences in the field can help them reach different learning goals, how to reflect on what they’re doing, and to assess themselves. Furthermore, as students get a sense of their professional responsibilities, they need to also learn how to take care of themselves, so that they’re not likely to breach boundaries that they should be upholding.”

“My dual education married these two aspects of who I am, the rabbi and the scholar,” says Carole Balin. “And, to my great fortune, my appointment to the HUC-JIR faculty did not require me to leave the rabbinical training by the wayside. I function as both an academic and a rabbi. I serve a transient population. I’m simultaneously serving and educating people who will become rabbis.”

“My work at HUC-JIR has been to bring the practice of spiritual guidance to the Jewish community,” notes Carol Ochs, author of the standard book for this practice, Jewish Spiritual Guidance. “I offer both a course on this subject as well as one-on-one spiritual guidance for rabbinical and cantorial students, where they have a chance to really examine their spiritual lives. I am teaching my students that they are called upon to have, and to help their congregants have, a deepening relationship with God. If they can really strengthen that relationship, then ‘they shall run and not grow weary, they shall march and not grow faint (Isaiah 40:31).’”

“I feel especially blessed to be ‘living’ in two programs,” says Naamah Kelman. For the first-year stateside rabbinical, cantorial, and education students during their required year of study at HUC-JIR’s Jerusalem School, “I allay their anxieties about their professional future.” As Field Work Coordinator for the Israeli students preparing to become Israeli rabbis, “I mentor them as they struggle with concerns about the political issues surrounding the Israeli Reform Movement and the exciting, as well as daunting, aspects of their involvement in the creation of the Movement in Israel.”

Dvora Weisberg not only serves as an academic advisor, but also spends time with students outside the classroom in worship and informal settings. “I invite my students to share Shabbat and holidays with my family. I talk to them about what it means to be a Jewish professional and a committed Jew. Students learn not only from what we teach, but how we teach, how we speak to and with them.”

“I try to model menschlichkeit and make myself available to talk not just about books but also about their religious and spiritual concerns,” says Wendy Zierler. As a second career academic, Adrian Leveen empathizes with the growing number of second career students in her classes.

Indeed, such mentorship has been responsible for guiding former HUC-JIR rabbinical students toward doctoral studies and, ultimately, to faculty positions at the College-Institute. “As a rabbinical student at HUC-JIR, I studied with Tamara Cohn Eskenazi during her first year teaching at the College-Institute,” recalls Andrea Weiss. “She encouraged and nurtured my interest in the Bible and has served as a mentor and role model ever since.”

Women faculty who have themselves been students at HUC-JIR have a deep understanding of what it is like to be a student here and to juggle the demands of school, professional work, and one’s personal life.

“There were adjunct, part-time faculty role models for me when I set out — Cantors Helen Reps and Ellen Stettner,” says Benjie Schiller. “Now I can be a model for women training to be clergy, who are seeking their own ways of being Jewish and of integrating motherhood and private lives with their public lives as Jewish leaders. As a cantor at my synagogue in White Plains, I keep my own studies, prayer life, and performance vital, which certainly enrich my teaching of students as they develop as a rabbi or chazzan. But most importantly, I hope to model integrity, caring, openness, creativity, and encouragement.”

Marla Eglash Abraham concurs, “I take the opportunity to role model seriously, because I really didn’t have a female professor when I was a graduate student at HUC-JIR nor a woman role model when I was breaking into the field of Jewish communal service. We were deprived of seeing how women did it – there was no one to watch. But now, how dramatic it is to have so many of us for students to watch!”

HUC-JIR’s Mission
HUC-JIR’s women faculty, together with their distinguished male colleagues, recognize the College-Institute’s special responsibility to advance Jewish scholarship and leadership at a time when higher Jewish learning is available at secular universities.

“Jewish learning in the seminary is really future oriented,” says Rachel Adler. “The secular enterprise is descriptive, the cataloguing of the past. We need to do that – it’s an important resource to have, but building bridges between what was and what ought to be is something only we can do.”

Wendy Zierler agrees, “HUC-JIR’s mandate involves linking scholarship to issues of Jewish life, practice, and community involvement. We can put together courses that combine scholarly rigor and community relevance.”

“Scholarship to me is not an ‘ivory tower’ endeavor; it is one way in which I explore my relationship with Jewish tradition,” notes Dvora Weisberg. “Our special responsibility is to demonstrate the ways in which scholarship and religious commitment come together,” Carol Ochs concurs. “There is some knowledge that can be acquired in secular universities, but the kind of knowledge that is ‘knowing through loving’ is the special gift that HUC-JIR offers its students.”

At the same time, Adrian Leveen cautions that “it is our responsibility to really keep ourselves in the academic world in order to convey to our students the changes and innovations in academia, because they are professionals going out into the larger world and are impacted by those discoveries which make their way into the popular press and television and, inevitably, are reflected in the questions asked by their congregants.”

Benjie Schiller attests to HUC-JIR’s core mission, blessed by the pride shared by faculty and students in serving the Reform Movement and the Jewish people. “Everything we teach is infused with the values of Judaism. The goal is not some kind of technical perfection or scholarship for the sake of a new discovery. The goal is to perpetuate Jewish life and to prepare our students to be the best religious leaders they can be.”

Alyssa Gray reminds us “secular universities are academic institutions, but they really have no stake or interest in whether Judaism continues as a living tradition or not. We do. That’s a critical function that we play. We teach ultimately about revelation and it’s a faith-based approach which would be completely out of order in a secular university.”

“At HUC-JIR, we have the opposite of academic freedom,” explains Carole Balin. “We have the Jewish freedom to inculcate values, and that’s what makes us unique.”

The stakes are both high and inspiring. Sara Lee concludes, “We have a unique and holy mission here at the College-Institute. The future of Jewish life in North America, Israel, and elsewhere is very dependent on how successful we are in preparing leaders that are deeply grounded in Jewish knowledge, committed to Israel, and visionary in bringing leadership to the Jewish world.”



A brief survey of some of HUC-JIR’s women faculty’s research projects conveys the breadth and depth of these women’s scholarship, often incorporating a variety of innovative methodological, feminist, and gender-oriented approaches:

  • Marla Eglash Abraham, M.A.J.C.S., M.S.W., Associate Director, School of Jewish Communal Service – Los Angeles, has been invited by the Women of Reform Judaism to facilitate their national strategic planning process and to serve on the strategic planning committee for the Office of Religious Life at the University of Southern California
  • Rachel R. Adler, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Jewish Religious Thought and Feminist Studies – Los Angeles, is a constructive theologian whose next book will explore the theology of suffering, not through classical theodocy, but by putting the person and their pain at the center of the conversation.
  • Ruth Alpers, Rabbi, M.A.H.L., Lecturer on Human Relations and Clinical Pastoral Education Cincinnati, is applying personality theory to the supervision of students in clinical/pastoral education and the way in which she handles students who approach her for pastoral care.
  • Isa Aron, Ph.D., Professor of Jewish Education – Los Angeles, relies heavily on literature from the business world and public education about collaborative, process-driven, ground-up change for her recent books advocating alternative ways of sparking self-renewal and change within congregations (see page 25).
  • Carole B. Balin, Rabbi, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Jewish History – New York, writes about Eastern European Jewish women’s writings, from the 18th and 19th centuries and pre-revolutionary Russia, recently uncovered in newly accessible archives in the former Soviet Union.
  • Hélène Dallaire, Ph.D., M.A., M.Phil., Director of Hebrew Language Instruction – Cincinnati, concentrates on syntactic features of the modal verbal forms of the Northwest semitic languages (Hebrew, El-Amarna texts, Phoenician, Ugaritic, Moabite).
  • Rivka Dori, M.A., M.S., Director of Hebrew Studies – Los Angeles, studies the impact of computer technology on Hebrew language education and works closely with HUC-JIR’s Distance Education Department in developing new instructional material.
  • Susan L. Einbinder, Rabbi, Ph.D., Professor of Hebrew Literature – Cincinnati, incorporates cultural criticism, biography of objects, anthropology, New Historicism, postmodern literary criticism, and historiography in her new book Beautiful Death: Jewish Poetry and Martyrdom in Medieval France.
  • Tamara Cohn Eskenazi, Ph.D., Professor of Bible – Los Angeles, is preparing the Women of Reform Judaism’s Women’s Commentary on the Torah, which will incorporate new approaches not found in traditional commentaries, including literary criticism, sociology, and feminism.
  • Nili Fox, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Bible – Cincinnati, incorporates anthropology and gender issues such as age and social statusintoherinvestigationofidentity markers in antiquity – tattooing, branding, special apparel, et al – and the ways in which they are related to assigning or altering identity, and their cultural acceptance.
  • Sharon Gillerman, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Jewish History – Los Angeles and Research Associate in the Women’s Studies in Religion Program, Harvard Divinity School, is doing ground-breaking work in Jewish social and cultural history during the Weimar Republic in Germany by looking at issues of gender and family.
  • Lisa Grant, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Jewish Education – New York, has collaborated on anin-depthinvestigation of Hebrew University’s pluralistic Florence Melton Adult Mini-School and its impact on its over 20,000 graduates in over sixty North American sites.
  • Alyssa Gray, J.D., L.L.M., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Codes and Responsa Literature – New York, is preparingabookbasedon her dissertation analyzing the literary dependency of the Babylonian Talmud on the Jerusalem Talmud, as seen in the tractate on idolatry.
  • Jo Kay, M.A., Director, School of Education New York, is writing a new book which will focus on the Passoversederasexperienced by those who are new to Judaism or newly observant of Jewish ritual.-
  • Naamah Kelman, Rabbi, M.A., M.A.H.L.,Director of Educational Initiatives – Jerusalem and Ph.D. candidate, Hebrew University, is pursuing research in ritual studies that is one of the first attempts to look at third generation Israelis and probe their inner/religious lives by asking questions about Jewish and Israeli identity and the feminist sensibility for seeking new forms of rituals where women are recognized and represented.
  • Sara Lee, M.A.J.E., M.S.Ed., Director,Rhea Hirsch School of Education – Los Angeles, focuses on “action research” on behalf of educational, organizational, and institutional change through cutting-edge projects in congregational and day school education and professional development of educators (see page 20).
  • Adrian Leveen, Ph.D., Assistant Professorof Bible – Los Angeles, is developing an analysis of outsider figures in the Bible (e.g. Hagar), their role in the Biblical narrative, and what that can teach about how the Bible conceived of the relationship between Israel and outsiders.
  • Carol Ochs, Ph.D., Adjunct Associate Professor of Jewish Religious Thought; Director of Graduate Studies – New York, published the book Behind the Sex of God years ago when Ms. Magazine rejected her article on how the Tanakh did not have commentaries by wives and mothers, saying that feminism wasn’t concerned with religion.
  • Benjie Schiller, Cantor, M.S.M., Professor of Cantorial Arts – New York, is further developing her concept of “the four M’s of Jewish music: meditative, majestic, moving along (davening), and evoking memory” in her research, teaching, and work with Synagogue 2000.
  • Dvora Weisberg, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Rabbinical Literature – Los Angeles, is immersed in a study that explores levirate marriage in Jewish tradition explores how the evolution of this practice teaches us about gender, paternity, and family/community obligations versus the desires of the individual, and the negotiation between traditional texts and social change.
  • Yaffa Weisman, Ph.D., M.L.I.S., Adjunct Associate Professor of Jewish Studies; Librarian, Frances-Henry Library – Los Angeles, is planning to write about the dynamics of her course on Jewish and Christian texts of the second Temple period and develop a digital library for it.
  • Andrea Weiss, Rabbi, M.A.H.L., Instructor in Bible – New York, is working on her dissertation on metaphor in the prose narratives of the book of Samuel, which applies methodologies adopted from the field of linguistics to the study of metaphor in the Bible.
  • Nancy H. Wiener, Rabbi, D.Min., Adjunct Associate Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling; Clinical Director, The Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Center for Pastoral Counseling – New York, recently published two books that look at the development of marriage traditions within Judaism and how they have changed over time.
  • Wendy Zierler, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Modern Jewish Literature and Feminist Studies – New York, is completing a forthcoming book, And Rachel Stole the Idols: The Emergence of Modern Hebrew Women’s Writings, which describes the role of late 19th and early 20th century Hebrew women writers in recasting sacred and traditional themes in ways that anticipated current feminist thought.

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Barbara and Stephen Friedman Chair in Liturgy, Worship, and Ritual Inaugurated

The Barbara and Stephen Friedman Chair in Liturgy, Worship, and Ritual at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, created through the generosity of Barbara and Stephen Friedman, was inaugurated at Founders’ Day Ceremonies at HUC-JIR/New York on March 16. Dr. Lawrence A. Hoffman is the inaugural recipient of this new Chair. As the first of its kind at HUC-JIR, the Friedman Chair reflects HUC-JIR’s curricular commitment to revisioning Jewish faith, thought, and practice by exploring new forms of liturgy, worship, and ritual that are meaningful and inspirational for Jews today.

In announcing the Friedman Chair, Rabbi Ellenson noted, “We are grateful to Barbara and Stephen for their visionary philanthropy which will ensure that HUC-JIR provides cutting-edge training for clergy, educators, communal professionals, and scholars. By designating this Chair in the area of Jewish liturgy, worship, and ritual, they and we recognize the important contribution of Rabbi Hoffman and Synagogue 2000, which he co-founded, in envisioning and implementing the synagogue ‘as the moral and spiritual center’ for 21st century Jewry. As the Friedman Professor of Liturgy, Worship, and Ritual, Rabbi Hoffman will teach and inspire our students to build communities of learners and worshippers; they, in turn, will motivate congregations and their leadership toward Jewish spiritual renewal and help guarantee a vital Jewish future.”

Barbara Friedman, Treasurer of HUC-JIR’s Board of Governors, stated, “In establishing this new Chair, we pay tribute to our esteemed friend and mentor, the new President of the College-Institute – Rabbi David Ellenson – who has guided our journey in Jewish learning and activism. We feel particularly blessed to celebrate the first incumbent of this Chair, our beloved teacher and friend, Rabbi Lawrence Hoffman. Through our commitment to this new Chair, we are honored to advance the academic growth of the College-Institute, an institution of higher Jewish learning that we love.”

Dr. Lawrence A. Hoffman was ordained as a rabbi in 1969, received his Ph.D. in 1973, and has served since as Professor of Liturgy at HUC-JIR in New York. He directed HUC-JIR’s School of Sacred Music from 1984 to 1987. For over twenty years, he has combined research in Jewish ritual, worship, and spirituality with a passion for the spiritual renewal of American Judaism. Rabbi Hoffman is internationally recognized as a preeminent scholar in Jewish liturgy, ritual, worship, and spirituality. A mentor to generations of students and teacher of distinguished North American Jewish lay leaders, he is the Co-founder and Director of Synagogue 2000, a trans-denominational project envisioning and implementing innovations in 21st century synagogue life.

He is the author or editor of over 20 books, including his most recently published book, The Journey Home: Discovering the Deep Spiritual Wisdom of Jewish Tradition, Minhag Ami: My People’s Prayer Book (a multi-volume Siddur with pluralistic modern commentaries), Two Liturgical Traditions (an ongoing series on Christian and Jewish worship); Israel: A Spiritual Guide (a guide for modern Jewish pilgrims), a newly revised version of What is a Jew? (the most widely read introduction to Judaism), and The Art of Public Prayer (an indispensable, core resource for worship or ritual committees seeking to enrich congregational prayer).

A regular columnist on Parshat Hashavua for The New York Jewish Week, the largest Jewish newspaper in North America, Dr. Hoffman is past-president of the North American Academy of Liturgy, the professional and academic organization for those who set national and international worship policy in most Christian and Jewish denominations. He was selected by the U.S. Navy in 1990, as part of three-person team, to develop a continuing education course on worship for Navy chaplains.

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To Collect, Preserve, and Provide Access to the Total Record of Jewish Thought and Experience:


The first in a series on HUC-JIR’s network of Libraries

When Hebrew Union College’s Library was founded in 1875, all of its books could be fit into a single metal trunk – and every night they actually were, to prevent them from being gnawed on by the rats that plagued the river levee district of Cincinnati where the College was then located. Today, with 436,000 printed books and many thousands of special collection items including manuscripts, computer files, microforms, maps, broadsides, bookplates, tablets, and stamps, the Klau Library in Cincinnati has the largest Judaica collection in the western hemisphere and is second in size only to the Judaica collection at the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem.

The Mission
The Mission Statement of the HUC-JIR Library system, approved by HUC-JIR’s Board of Governors, mandates the Library system to “collect, preserve, and provide access to the total record of Jewish thought and experience.” The Klau Library in Cincinnati functions both as a campus library and as the main research library within the HUC-JIR Library system. It supports the teaching functions of the Rabbinical and Graduate programs of the campus, and provides its depth of resources and various library services to the other HUC-JIR libraries – the Abramov Library in Jerusalem, the Frances-Henry Library in Los Angeles, and the Klau Library in New York. It also serves as a resource for the University of Cincinnati Judaic Studies department and for other local educational institutions through its membership in the Greater Cincinnati Library Consortium.

The Klau Library has always been a leader in making its resources available to as wide a user community as possible, both locally and worldwide. The Library has use and circulation policies unique among American scholarly collections: everyone is welcome to register and use the Library’s resources in person; and local residents of the tri-state area may also borrow books from the collection. The interlibrary loan department sends materials to libraries around the world, while HUC-JIR alumni may borrow directly. Rare and precious items are loaned for exhibitions at the great museums of the world, and less rare items are made available to UAHC congregations for local display.

The Treasures
The Dalsheimer Rare Book Building contains a great heritage of the Jewish people, bibliographic and artistic. Highlighting its Hebrew manuscript collection are a 10th century Bible commentary; an 11th century illuminated Bible Codex; fifty-nine booklets written by the Jews of Kaifeng, China, including the unique Chinese-Hebrew Memorial Book; and two beautifully illustrated haggadot, the late 15th century First Cincinnati Haggadah created in southern Germany and the early 18th century Second Cincinnati Haggadah produced in Moravia. The fifty-two manuscripts from the Samaritan community include a Pentateuch written in 1479. Its collection of illuminated scrolls, especially Esther scrolls, include examples of both the oldest of such works and the most beautiful and unusual. The Eduard Birnbaum Collection of Jewish cantorial music is the world’s largest collection of Jewish music manuscripts, including sheet music and indices to the different liturgical melodies used by the Jews of Europe.

Among the 14,000 rare printed volumes housed in the Dalsheimer Rare Book Building are significant collections of Hebrew and nonHebrew incunabula (books printed before 1501), 16th and 17th century books printed in Hebrew, and Yiddish and Ladino works. The building holds important Josephus and Spinoza collections, as well as the early imprints of the Library’s Judaica Americana collection, which is the world’s largest – and a third larger again than the second largest collection held by the New York Public Library. A large map collection includes the famous chart of the Mediterranean world produced by Judah Abenzara in Cairo in 1500, the only known specimen in the western hemisphere from the great school of medieval Jewish cartographers. The collection of broadsides – a sheet printed on one side only – includes 10,000 pieces documenting community activities, theater posters, government announcements, and private occasions, e.g., wedding poems and eulogies. There are also important collections of bookplates, bindings, miniature books, cuneiform tablets, and Israeli stamps.

The Library also continues to acquire rare books and manuscripts using special gifts and endowed funds. Last year, for example, it was able to acquire three important manuscripts in this fashion: an 11th century Bible commentary in Hebrew and Aramaic, thanks to a gift from Susan Shapiro in honor of her husband, L. Dennis Shapiro, a former member of HUC-JIR’s Board of Governors; a collection of prayers, hymns, and private petitions, written in Cochin, India, in 1690, thanks to the generosity of Stuart Rose through the Stuart Rose Foundation Endowment; and the Responsa of the MaHaRaM of Rothenberg, a 14th or early 15th century manuscript on vellum, that contains fifty previously unpublished responsa, which was acquired with funds allocated to the Klau Library by the Judaica Conservancy Foundation. Such items are not purchased simply to enhance the status of the Library; they are acquired to meet the research needs of our various core user communities: faculty, students, and alumni, as well as to support the publication efforts of our faculty. For example, since the Klau Library has the world’s largest collection of printed responsa in its Freehof Collection, it was very appropriate to add a manuscript from a most important rabbinical author that contains fifty responsa not found in the printed editions.

The Audience
“Books are for use” is the first law of librarianship, and the Klau Library prides itself on making its collections accessible to as wide an audience as possible; it has a justly earned international reputation as the “lender of last resort” for Hebraica and Judaica. The Klau Library is regularly asked to send its treasures for display at other libraries and museums. Over the years, it has lent materials for exhibitions at the Smithsonian Institution and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., the Museum of the Jewish Diaspora in Tel Aviv, the New York Public Library, the Jewish Museum in New York, and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. In 2000, the Klau Library lent forty rare or unique items touching on the celebration of Passover to the Bridwell Library at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

The Preservation
The Library also holds these precious treasures in trust for future generations and must ensure their survival. Over the years, the Library has upgraded the heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems (HVAC) for its rare book facilities. In the Dalsheimer Rare Book Building, the temperature is kept at 63 degrees and the humidity between 40% and 50% through the use of a state of the art lowpressure HVAC system. The East Wing stack – constructed in 1925 as the College’s second library – holds 200,000 items published between 1610 and 1900 and has a new HVAC system and duct work, but additional work is yet required to maximize preservation of its collections. In the Klau Library building, opened in 1961, the HVAC has been upgraded several times since its initial construction, but the binary air-handling system needs upgrading to a modern unitary system to provide the recommended atmospheric conditions in the book stacks which hold over 220,000 items.

The Innovations
The Klau Library, Cincinnati, has been a leader in implementing new technologies for the preservation and dissemination of HUC-JIR’s unique and precious resources. In 1955, it established the American Jewish Periodical Center (AJPC) and became the first Jewish library – and one of the first libraries worldwide – to preserve its periodical collection on archivalquality microfilm. Currently, the AJPC includes some 1,350 newspaper, periodical, and Reform temple bulletin titles, comprising 14.5 million pages of text on microfilm. Over the years, it has performed a major service to Jewish and American scholarship by disseminating its large and varied resources to institutions and individuals engaged in research: scholars, journalists, film makers, novelists, historians, genealogists and individuals researching the history of North American Jewish communities.

In 1967, the Library became a founding member of the Ohio College Library Consortium (OCLC) and began to enter its holdings into an online, shared bibliographic database. The Klau Library regularly contributed the highest percentage of new records to this database over the years. In 1989, the Library became a member of the Research Libraries Group, which had just implemented a Hebrew vernacular script component available for its Research Library Information Network (RLIN). In 2001, the Klau Library provided global access to all of its roman alphabet holdings via a web gateway to its VTLS online, integrated library system.

In 1995, the Klau Library became the first Judaica library to make selections from its rare book and illuminated manuscript holdings available using the Pro3000 digital planetary camera system developed at IBM’s T.J. Watson Laboratories. During the first days of Passover 1996, over 160,000 visits from thirty-six countries – including four Arab countries – were recorded by Congregation Emanu-El in the City of New York’s website, to whom the Library had lent thirty-two digitized images from four important illuminated Haggadah manuscripts.

During 1997, the Klau Library mounted a virtual tour of the Rare Book Room on the College-Institute’s website. At Passover 2000, the Klau Library helped prepare an interactive CD-ROM edition of its treasured First Cincinnati Haggadah manuscript, which was distributed to all of the congregations in the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, as well as to HUC-JIR alumni and the many friends of the College-Institute.

Several other CD-ROM projects are currently in process: a CD with the Klau Library’s codex manuscripts of the Jews of Kaifeng, China, including a Torah scroll from the collection of the Bridwell Library at Southern Methodist University; a CD which will include the Second Cincinnati Haggadah and its “sister,” the Van Geldern Haggadah, which is held privately; and a CD which will includes many of the beautiful and rare illuminated Esther scrolls held in our collection.

The Collection
“Most acquisitions come from book dealers and publishers, but in the 1950s, Professor Herbert Zafren came up with an inventive way to develop the collection and to pay for it at the same time. He arranged for the College-Institute to purchase a Jewish bookstore on the lower East Side of Manhattan that was up for sale. While he was going through the stock of the store for items needed by the Klau Library, he kept it open and sold remaining stock to customers, paying much of the cost of this venture,” recalls Dr. Gilner.

On average, the Klau Library adds some 6,000 new monographs to its collection each year. In addition, the Library currently has 2,250 subscriptions to newspapers and journals. As they become available, maps, broadsides, printed music, and ephemera are added to the collection. Also acquired are a wealth of nonprinted material, including new Israeli stamps and covers, Jewish texts and reference works on laser CD-ROM, cantorial sound recordings, and microform materials. These acquisitions are mostly covered by the acquisitions budget allocated to the Library. But the cost of books has been going up some ten percent each year for over a decade. If the Library’s collections are to continue to grow, additional funds to support its acquisitions budget must be secured.

The Challenges
Unfortunately, for the past decade, the Klau Library has been plagued by a single challenging reality – it has run out of space: space for its varied collection; space for personnel; and space needed for new programs and technologies. The Library has coped with the problem by shifting collections to the other Libraries in the HUC-JIR system, selling duplicate collections to other scholarly libraries, and moving collections to off-site (and less-accessible) storage. But the Klau Library in New York has no more spare room and the Frances-Henry Library in Los Angeles, built to hold 75,000 volumes, now holds 105,000 books and is also facing a severe space crisis. Off-site storage can mean more than reduced access; in January 2000, a burst water main in the basement of the New Dormitory destroyed 480 boxes of Library periodical materials held there in storage.

More specialized storage space is needed for rare books, maps, broadsides and other special collections. New space is required for a computer center and for a conservation laboratory, and more workspace is needed for technical processing. The Library no longer has the shelf space necessary to unpack large gifts for sorting and processing; they must be removed immediately to offsite storage. There is insufficient space to house the books currently out on loan from the collection. And while the Library continues to house some 200,000 volumes in the Library stacks built in 1925, it can come as no surprise that this area needs structural and environmental upgrades. If the Klau Library in Cincinnati is to cope successfully with a problem that has been aborning for well over a decade, then all the resources available to the College-Institute must be brought to bear to deal with this problem. It is with this support that the CollegeInstitute will be able “to collect, preserve, and provide access to the total record of Jewish thought and experience” for the generations to come.

Charting The Vision

The greatness of a library must be measured by the quality of the individuals who staff it as well as the size, depth, and quality of its collection. For more than a century, the Klau Library has been under the leadership of exceptional individuals: Sigmund Mannheimer, 1884 to 1902; Judah L. Magnus (a graduate of the College in 1900), 1902 to 1904; Adolph S. Oko, 1906 to 1933; Walter Rothman, 1933 to 1945; and Herbert C. Zafren, 1950 to 1994, who became the CollegeInstitute’s first Director of Libraries in 1968.

Under Professor Herbert C. Zafren, the Klau Library’s holdings doubled in size from 100,000 volumes to 200,000 between 1950 and 1965, and then doubled again by his retirement. Professor Zafren was the founding President of the Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) and served twice as President of the Council of Archives and Research Libraries in Jewish Studies (CARLJS) of the National Foundation for Jewish Culture. He also established the Library’s monographic series, Bibliographica Judaica (BJ), and was founding editor of Studies in Bibliography and Booklore (SBB), the only Judaica/Hebraica bibliographic journal in English.

Dr. David J. Gilner was named Librarian of the Klau Library, Cincinnati, in 1991 and Director of Libraries in 1994. His career at the Library spans twenty-four years and has been marked by the introduction of innovative ideas and technology, most notably the establishment of the Klau Library’s digitizing initiative in 1995 and the online public access catalog in 1999. Dr. Gilner succeeded Professor Zafren as Chairman of the Boards of Editors of both BJ and SBB. During sixteen years of service to the AJL, Dr. Gilner’s various offices have included a recent term as President; he is currently serving as President of CARLJS.

The entire College-Institute benefits from the dedication and tireless efforts of the Klau Library’s fine professional and support staff. All of the professional librarians of the HUC-JIR Library system have graduate degrees in library and information science; several have subject Masters’ and Doctorates. The staff of the Klau Library in Cincinnati is supervised by Ellen Kovacic, Senior Associate Librarian for Technical Services, and by Arnona Rudavsky, Senior Associate Librarian for Public Services. Laurel S. Wolfson was appointed Deputy Librarian in 2000 to manage the day-to-day operation of the Klau Library, Cincinnati. She has served on the Board and Council of AJL since 1990, and is the current treasurer. She has been Managing Editor of BJ and SBB since 1998.

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The HUC-UC Center for the Study of Ethics and Contemporary Moral Problems

A glance at any newspaper today points up the crucial need for promoting ethics in today’s world. People hunger for guidance to help them make the right choices and to live decent lives in a complex world. The Hebrew Union College- University of Cincinnati Center for the Study of Ethics and Contemporary Moral Problems is dedicated to providing the guidance that can help rescue lives and heal the world.

The Ethics Center promotes teaching, learning, and research in applied ethics and ethical literature in an open environment for scholarly discourse of various religious and secular ethical traditions. It helps faculty, students, professionals, and members of the community identify ethical issues and make personal and professional ethical decisions.

The Ethics Center’s Advisory Board members recently approved a strategic plan for the Center to achieve national recognition as a venue for interfaith study and discussion of current issues and applied ethics.

The plan calls for expanding the Center’s abilities to:

  • Sustain competitive graduate programs in comparative law and applied ethics;
  • Become a major research center in ethics, law, and religion;
  • Provide choice continuing professional education programs in applied ethics;
  • Offer quality outreach events that engage religious and secular leaders.

Continuing and Community Education
“I believe that despite the war and terrorism afflicting our world, the people of Cincinnati are committed to improving the quality of life for every citizen, right here and right now,” states Dr. Jonathan Cohen, Director of the HUC-UC Ethics Center. The Center’s high-caliber programs appeal to diverse interfaith and multiethnic audiences. Furthermore, Dr. Cohen adds, “We are pledged to providing continuing education for professionals in law, medicine, social work, real estate, and other vocations.” Programs such as the ongoing Quarterly Forum are designed to promote cooper- ative research among local academic institutions and social justice and not-for-profit organizations. Programs have attracted over 1200 participants, and we have enabled nearly 150 professionals to receive continuing education credit.

In June, the Ethics Center will present New York Times colum- nist Randy Cohen (“The  Ethicist”) and Cincinnati Opera artistic director Nicholas Muni who will talk about capitalism and sin in the context of Kurt Weill’s opera The Seven Deadly Sins. Sponsored by the William A. Friedlander Ethics Lecture Fellowship, this program will continue OperaRap, the Ethics Center’s successful ongoing partnership with the Cincinnati Opera. The Ethics Center is also planning a day-long October conference on “Mental Health and the Law: Ethical Dilemmas” which will offer continuing professional education to physicians, attorneys, nurses, and social workers. Dr. Terry Perlin of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio is leading a group of representatives from local academic, medical, government, and social justice institutions to organize the event.

Graduate Study and Research
“We are tremendously excited about creating new courses and research opportunities in comparative law and applied ethics for our HUC-JIR and University of Cincinnati students,” says Dr. Cohen. “Our students are enthusiastic when scholars from other academic institutions, such as the Athenaeum of Ohio/Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, contribute guest lectures on canon law and other topics.”

With the launch of the new M.A. and Ph.D. programs in Jewish and comparative law and applied ethics, the Ethics Center offers graduate students four main areas of academic concentration: Philosophy and Ethics, Law, Jewish Legal Texts, and Comparative Law and Ethics. Students can concentrate their research in areas such as human and civil rights, business law and ethics, and medical and bioethics.

The graduate programs are administered by HUC-JIR’s School of Graduate Studies, in coordination with the Ethics Center and University of Cincinnati College of Law. Students are exposed to the basic disciplines of civil law and Jewish law, and encouraged to identify and examine problems ethically. “We want them to develop an informed individual approach to ethical-legal problems, and give them the tools to address socio-legal problems in the community,” Dr. Cohen emphasizes. “Our goal is to prepare students for future work and research in applied ethics, and to promote teaching and research in the areas of Jewish and comparative law and applied ethics.”

Students are introduced to diverse religious and secular models of ethics and to jurisprudential analysis, and given the opportunity to participate in practica, such as internships at the Legal Aid Society or the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Flexibility is crucial to accommodate the  interests of each individual student. “We invite students to take courses offered at HUC-JIR, UC College of Law, other schools and departments of UC, Xavier University, and at the Athenaeum of Ohio,” Dr. Cohen explains.

The programs foster the interac- tion of students of various backgrounds, faiths, and disciplines. Some of the core courses are offered jointly, accredited both at HUC-JIR and the UC College of Law, and attract lay and professional participants; and some are accredited at HUC-JIR and the Athenaeum of Ohio and/or Xavier University. The cooperation of the participating institutions creates an opportunity for open scholarly discussion and enriches the students involved.

“Beyond the academic focus of the programs, the practicaL requirements are most attractive to our students. We give them a chance to take part in a variety of social service and educational projects,” Dr. Cohen says. “The ethics education practicum chal- lenges our students to explore ethics education at all levels, for instance, by teaching an ethics course or preparing an ethics curriculum. The social justice practicum entails working with

a community-based organiza- tion, and gives them practical experience in an area of their choice.” Students choose an area of interest (such as homelessness, domestic violence, medical ethics, etc.) and are then placed as interns in a related organization. Both practicum experiences are closely super- vised. Students gain practical experience, and apply the knowl- edge acquired in the classroom.

Dr. Cohen is particularly proud of the Ethics Center’s Scholar-in- Residence program. The Center’s 2002-03 Scholar-in- Residence was Professor Mark Stavsky, an attorney and noted legal scholar on the faculty at the Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, who specializes in criminal procedure, evidence, trial advocacy, white-collar crime, comparative law, and prisoner’s rights. During his year of residency, Professor Stavsky taught a joint course in “Criminality and Civil Disability” at the UC College of Law and HUC-JIR in addition to lecturing and conducting research.

The joint course addressed the implications of criminality. “Members of our society endure civil disabilities following the discharge of their sentences,” explained Stavsky, who is the Director of the Kentucky Innocence Project. “Such disabilities range from the prohibition to bear arms to the inability to exercise the right to vote.” Dr. Cohen co-taught the joint course, which, he explained, “offered contemporary American and Jewish perspectives on the subject of criminality, guilt, and innocence, as well as various issues relating to the re-integration of offenders into society.”

The Ethics Center welcomed its first scholar-in-residence, Dr. Julian Wuerth in 2001. During his residency, he focused on his areas of specialization, which include the ethics and theoretical philosophy of Immanuel Kant, early modern philosophy, the history of ethics, and religion.

The Ethics Center is hard at work fulfilling its mission: stimulating graduate study, academic research, community outreach programs, and continu- ing professional education to people of all faiths in Cincinnati. In doing so, it serves as a beacon of light and humanity for today’s troubled world.


A debate on capital punishment in advance of the presentation of the new American opera Dead Man Walking marked the Ethics Center’s very first collaboration with the Cincinnati Opera. The OperaRap debate, which filled the Manuel D. and Rhoda A. Mayerson Auditorium to capacity, presented the diverse views of a Catholic nun, a civil rights attorney, the editor of The Cincinnati Enquirer, and a professor of theology at Cincinnati Bible College.

“Zero Tolerance: Education and Justice for All? featured a lecture by Daniel J. Losen, an attorney with the Harvard Civil Rights Project. Dr. Laurence Thomas, Professor of Philosophy at Syracuse University, spoke on the “The Role of Parents in the Social and Moral Development of Children.” Discipline policies in secondary public schools were debated by a panel that included the deputy superintendent of Cincinnati Public Schools, the president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers.

(AFL-CIO), an ombudsperson for the State of Ohio Department of Education, and attorneys representing the Legal Aid Society and Cincinnati Parents for Public Schools. Verna Williams, professor at University of Cincinnati College of Law, thanked the Ethics Center “for presenting such fascinating programming.” This outreach event was sponsored in part by the Donald J. and Dr. Norma K. Stone Ethics Lecture Fellowship, the Harris K. Weston Institute for Law and Public Policy, and the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati.

“The Role of Rescuers in Jewish Tradition,” a thought-provok- ing lecture by Rabbi David Novak, Ph.D., was offered to the public by the Ethics Center and HUC-JIR’s Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education (CHHE).

The Ethics Center and the CHHE also co-sponsored a lecture by former U.S. Ambassador John Dolibois, the last surviving Nuremburg interrogator, which brought together over 200 listeners.

In a public discussion of housing and homelessness, “Calling Cincinnati Home: Ethical Decisions in Housing,” that attracted hundreds of local residents, a panel comprised of two Cincinnati City Council members and two Hamilton County commissioners responded to a written statement by former Ethics Center schol- ar-in-residence Dr. Julian Wuerth entitled “Ethical Issues in Housing.” SteveKnight,asocialworkeratMt.AiryShelter,said the focus on public policy and the homeless “helped me rethink my views and also recharge my commitment to work with this population.” AttorneyJeanetteN.Dannenfelserconcurred,“This panel was very helpful in highlighting the dire issues that face the City of Cincinnati regarding appropriate and livable housing.”
As part of the two-day focus on urban housing issues, the Ethics Center offered a seminar on predatory lending, reverse mortgages, and childhood lead hazards in housing, which was described by attorney Nancy C. Helwig as “very informative on issues that are not commonly discussed in legal updates and other seminars, but which are vitally important.” Presenters from the Better Housing League, ClearCorps, and the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati took part.

The symposium “End-of-Life Treatment and Care: Religious and Secular Perspectives” brought together the ideas of a clinical nurse specialist, a priest who teaches theology at Thomas More College, a professor of Psychiatry and Law at University of Cincinnati Medical School, an ethics consultant and professorof interdisciplinary studies at Miami University, and Dr. Robert V. Brody, a primary care physician who chairs the Ethics Committee at San Francisco General Hospital. The event was part of the Ninth National Conference on Nursing Administration Research.

The Ethics Center hosted a thought-provoking lecture on the ethics of restitution by English barrister David Turns, LL.M., entitled “Picking Up the Pieces After Armed Conflict: How International Law Can Help.”

“Violence Against Women: Family, Faith Communities and the Law” offered a panel discussion on domestic violence, and featured the views of a social worker, attorney, Catholic priest, and a Reform rabbi/academic. “Wonderful variety of perspectives,” remarked attorney Alison Bazely after the program, “great value as well.” Attendee Karen Rowe of Catholic Social Services“ found the diversity of the presentations very rich.”

“Beyond Welfare: Raising Children Out of Poverty,” the inaugural conference of UC’s Harris K. Weston Institute for Law and Public Policy, hosted by the Ethics Center and presented by the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati, was a gathering of policy leaders from the public, non-profit, and civic sectors. The event addressed the topic of working mothers and the challenge of achieving self- sufficiency, and featured a lecture on fathers and child support.

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New Directions for Jewish Education:

by Ruth Friedman

Bringing New Visions of What Jewish Education Can Be to the Reform Movement and the Jewish Community at Large

For over thirty years the Rhea Hirsch School of Education (RHSOE) has been nationally recognized as a preeminent center for the training of Jewish educators and educational administrators. The RHSOE is committed to advancing quality educational leaders who can create compelling institutions of Jewish education.

Professor Sara S. Lee, Director of the RHSOE, observes, “The 240 graduates of the degree programs of the RHSOE have brought new visions of what Jewish education can be to the Reform Movement and to the Jewish community at large. In the institutions they lead, in their professional organizations, and in their communities the RHSOE graduates have enhanced the status of Jewish educators through their leadership and contributions.” RHSOE alumni serve in a wide variety of institutions including congregations, day schools, universities, and communal agencies in North America, Israel, and Australia.

Since 1992 the RHSOE has expanded its scope with new goals: to stimulate experimentation and contribute to change in those institutions where Reform Jews are educated and to improve the state of Jewish education and elevate its importance through research and discourse. Over the past twelve years, the RHSOE has embarked on major national education projects that embody both action and research. Alumni play leadership roles in these projects, which promote Jewish education, community, continuity, and institutional change.

Experiment in Congregational Education (ECE)

“ECE helped us create a vision of learning which led to the creation of a vision statement for the entire congregation.”
Julie Vanek (MAJE/MAJCS ’88), Temple Educator, Temple Shalom of Newton, MA – one of the seven original ECE congregations

ECE, the RHSOE’s first national synagogue transformation project, began twelve years ago to help revitalize congregations. Based on the belief that learning serves as a foundation for Jewish commitment and community, ECE challenges and supports congregations as they change their culture and goals to become more vibrant and welcoming homes of worship and study.

“We have something to offer every congregation,” states Dr. Isa Aron, Founding Director of ECE and Professor of Jewish Education at HUC-JIR/LA. Aron’s new book, The Self-Renewing Congregation, offers organizational strategies for revitalizing congregations, based on her experience working with ECE congregations (see page 25 of this issue). ECE has created processes for congregations to go through to help them create a culture of learning. Whether congregations desire to enhance adult study, augment religious services, or promote social justice, among other areas, ECE provides the method to help enable the congregation to proceed along the path of its choosing.

A cross-denominational project, ECE has worked directly with twenty-five congregations across the country, and indirectly influenced many others. Temple Shalom of Newton, MA, for example, has created innovative educational initiatives for the development of new lay leaders as well as a children’s learning task force.

In a recent expansion of its efforts, the ECE has created a state-ofthe-art, interactive online learning module with audio and video interviews and mini-documentaries that enable participating congregations to explore alternative models of religious schools throughout the United States. These congregations also have access to an Internet-based team workspace which allows them to post announcements, maintain calendars, provide contact information and materials, as well as conduct online discussions. These creative efforts in educational technology are the result of ECE’s partnership with HUC-JIR’s National Department of Distance Education and its Director, Gregg Alpert (MAJE/MAJCS ’79).

A grant from the Mandel Associated Foundations has made possible the creation of the ECE. Additional support has come from The Nathan Cummings Foundation, The Koret Foundation, the San Francisco Jewish Community Endowment Fund of the Jewish Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma counties, The Jeannette and Jerome Cohen Philanthropic Fund, the Helen and Sam Kaplan Memorial Fund, the Lowenstein Family Supporting Foundation, the Jewish Federation and Jewish Community Foundation of Kansas City, UJA Federation of Greater New York, and the Covenant Foundation.

According to Dr. Rob Weinberg, Director of the ECE, “The work we began a dozen years ago continues to develop in exciting new ways. As congregations increasingly feel the urgency of change, we are creating powerful new Internet-based tools and materials, as well as consulting processes, that will enable us to touch many more congregations in a variety of ways. Our research continues to forge a vital link between the Rhea Hirsch School and cutting-edge practice in the field. Through our ongoing relationship with ECE congregations, we are beginning to build a supportive network among congregations of all sizes all over North America who are doing this transformative work.”

Rabbi Josh Zweiback (NY ’98; MAJE ’96), Senior Educator, Congregation Beth Am, Los Altos Hills, CA, which is an ECE congregation, notes that “ECE touches every aspect of synagogue life on a continual basis.” The process helps the synagogue define its vision and create a “meaningful partnership between lay leaders and the professional team.” Its evident success can be seen in its 500 adult learners (from a congregation of 1250 member units) as well as in its innovative approach to the education of children and adolescents. ECE congregations learn a new way of looking at themselves, train new leaders to create and implement these visions, and thus do not remain stagnant. They continually redefine their ideals and offerings to maintain themselves as learning congregations.


DeLeT: Day School Leadership Through Teaching

“DeLeT advances proactive methods of Jewish teacher recruitment, novice teacher education, school-based mentoring, and factors that lead to successful teacher retention in North American Jewish day schools.”
Dr. Jane West Walsh (MAJE ’85), Executive Director of DeLeT

The demand for Jewish day schools has grown dramatically over the past twenty years, and it is projected that over 200 new teachers will be needed each year. DeLeT sponsors a fellowship program, mentor teacher institutes, and a new teacher recruitment project that address the shortage of Jewish day school teachers, while setting a standard for excellence in professional Jewish day school teaching. The fellowship program targets early or mid-career Jewish adults and provides them with an opportunity to launch a new career with the help of graduate-level Jewish education courses and participation in mentored elementary school teaching at a DeLeT-affiliated day school.

The RHSOE has been selected as one of two pilot academic sites, along with Brandeis University. Dr. Michael Zeldin, Director of Day School Programs and Projects at HUC-JIR, serves as Academic Director and Luisa Latham serves as Program Director for DeLeT at HUC-JIR/Los Angeles, while Dr. Sharon Feiman-Nemser and Judy Elkin direct the program at Brandeis.

The DeLeT fellowship includes two phases.
Phase One:

  • Two summer institutes
  • Academic-year mentoring which places DeLeT fellows as teaching interns in day schools
  • Ongoing classes and seminars for which the fellows receive twelve graduate credits

Phase Two:

  • At least two years of day school teaching
  • Pursuit of a graduate degree in either Jewish education, teaching, education, Jewish studies, or teacher certification
  • Annual winter advanced learning kallah

Day Schools in Los Angeles, Boston, Palo Alto, San Francisco, and Dallas have agreed to participate as internship sites in the program, and West Walsh aims to expand this network. In addition to working with the fellows, DeLeT works with day schools to promote the importance of providing professional development and support for novice teachers.

DeLeT depends on referrals from Jewish leaders, parents, family, and friends to find the most qualified candidates. DeLeT worked nationally to identify and select the eighteen Cohort One fellows who will complete Phase One on July 31, 2003. The Rhea Hirsch School of Education will award a Certificate in Day School Teaching upon completion of requirements for the Phase One program. Cohort Two fellows will begin in July 2003.

Laura Heller Lauder developed the idea for DeLeT in consultation with Dr. Jon Woocher, Director of the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA), and Rabbi Josh Elkin, Executive Director of The Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education (PEJE). Lauder has procured donor partners, including Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, Inc., Edgar M. Bronfman, The Harold Grinspoon Foundation, The Covenant Foundation, The Crown Family Foundation, Laura and Gary Lauder, Albert and Janet Schultz Supporting Foundation, Howard and Leslie Schultz Family Foundation, Jewish Life Network/Steinhardt Foundation, and Debbie and Jeffrey Schwartz. During Phase One, fellows receive a $25,000 compensation package from DeLeT and their internship site day school and up to $10,000 during Phase Two to help pay for graduate tuition, along with 12 graduate credits from HUC-JIR, as an incentive.


Jewish Day Schools for the 21st Century (JDS-21)

“JDS-21 has helped a lot of schools to think about and work on what it means to be a Jewish day school.”
Cindy Reich (MAJE ’84), Director of the Talmud Torah of St. Paul Day School

According to Cindy Reich, who has been involved with Jewish Day Schools for the 21st Century (JDS-21) from its inception, JDS-21 helps day schools deepen their Jewish mission and become Jewish learning communities. JDS-21 is based on a pilot project called Day Schools for the 21st Century, which was created by a grant from the Mandel Associated Foundations.

JDS-21 has worked with thirteen Reform and community day schools to assist them in defining their “guiding Jewish values” and then bring them to fruition. The Jewish values, or mission, of each school are integrated into programs and class offerings for students, parents, teachers, and board members, as well as into the institutional policies of the school.

Funded by a grant from the Avi Chai Foundation, JDS-21 promotes learning for everyone affiliated with the Jewish day school. Through studying traditional and contemporary Jewish texts, the school community adds meaning to their lives and a Jewish perspective to the decisions they make concerning the school. According to Dr. Michael Zeldin, Director of JDS-21, “Day schools have the vast potential to affect the future Jewishness of students and their families.”

Following are a few examples of community learning and implementation of Jewish values at JDS-21 schools:

  • A certificate program of classes for secular teachers to provide them with more comprehensive Jewish knowledge
  • Morning Rosh Hodesh tefilah for fourth graders with sixth graders serving as mentors
  • Text study led by parents at school parent gatherings
  • Integration of Jewish perspective into what were previously considered “secular” programs (e.g. the National Wildlife Federation program now has a Jewish component about tsar ba’alei chayim – prevention of cruelty to animals)

In helping every member of the school’s community value Jewish learning for themselves and their families, JDS-21 schools promote Jewish continuity for all involved.


Postgraduate Day School Residency

“The Postgraduate Day School Residency Program provides a revolutionary program for professional preparation. It is the first and only one of its kind for Jewish education in the world.”
Dr. Michael Zeldin, (MAHE ’77,) Director of Day School Programs and Projects, HUC-JIR/LA

The Postgraduate Day School Residency program places graduates of the RHSOE in a Jewish day school for two years under mentor supervision, while they continue to take professional development classes at local universities and schools of education. Sponsored by the Righteous Persons Foundation, the residency program enhances the residents’ training in Judaica, education, and educational administration. Mentors from the RHSOE as well as from the residency day school site administration provide guidance for the residents.

The RHSOE chooses day schools that will provide “wonderful learning opportunities,” such as Temple Israel of Hollywood (CA) Day School, which has been a continuous residency program since the program began in 1994.

The very selective program only chooses two residents per year. Yuri Hronsky (MAJE/MAJCS ’01) is a current Postgraduate Resident at the Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School West in Agoura, CA where he works as an Administrative Resident. With an extensive background in teaching and Jewish education, he saw the residency opportunity as an ideal way to further obtain more administrative experience, while also continuing to teach. A member of the day school’s administrative team, he also teaches 4th and 5th grade Judaic studies classes, as well as a course for parents on Torah and prayer.

This residency program provides Hronsky with an opportunity to continue expanding his educational background by taking post-graduate professional development classes. His work as a resident has set the model for his plans after completing the program. He remarked: “My residency is exactly what I want to do in the future – combining teaching and administrative work.”


Creating Teaching Excellence in Congregational Education

“By creating a culture of support among teachers, we can truly have an impact on the teaching profession and the educational experience for children and families in congregational schools across the nation.”
Nancy Prager Levin, (MAJE ’81, RJE) Project Coordinator

Creating Teaching Excellence in Congregational Education raises the level of teaching within supplementary religious schools by training experienced teachers to mentor other teachers in their schools. In addition to its goals of setting higher standards of achievement for teachers and retaining a more permanent and capable staff, the project creates a support system where teachers work together as a team.

Eight mentor teachers are participating in the two-year pilot program at four Los Angeles-area schools. Each mentor attended an intensive summer training course to enhance their teaching skills and develop their leadership and mentoring abilities. The training helped the mentors become more reflective in their own teaching so that they could better guide their designated teachers during the school year. In addition, Education Directors at the schools, as well as the Project Coordinator Nancy Prager Levin and the Project Director Professor Sara S. Lee, meet with the mentor and designated teachers throughout the year for further guidance and training.

This innovative project is funded by a generous grant from Lloyd Cotsen and Murray Pepper. With goals of expanding and being adapted by schools across the country, the program’s “impact and influence are exponential,” according to Levin.

For more information about the RHSOE or to learn more about these projects, please contact:
RHSOE: Professor Sara Lee, Director, (213) 749-3424,;
DeLeT: Dr. Jane West Walsh, Executive Director, (847) 564-4515,;
ECE: Dr. Rob Weinberg, (847) 328-0032;;
JDS-21 and Postgraduate Day School Residency: Dr. Michael Zeldin, Director of Day School Programs and Projects, (213) 7493424,;
Creating Teaching Excellence in Congregational Education: Nancy Prager Levin, Project Coordinator, (213) 749-3424,

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Biblical Ambiguities: Metaphor, Semantics, and Divine Imagery

David H. Aaron
Brill Academic Publishers, 2001

When we read a biblical passage that in some way involves the deity, how do we know whether its language was meant literally or figuratively? This study endeavors to develop a language-based interpretive strategy for understanding Godrelated idioms in the Hebrew Bible. In this sense, our primary focus is the character of language usage in expressions pertaining to God. However, this study does not constitute a general history of biblical God belief. Rather, it involves an extended consideration of how semantic theory might become a factor in writing such a history, especially when it comes to interpreting metaphors.

The term “figurative” is a general designation for nonliteral speech acts, including many standard rhetorical devices such as irony, sarcasm and cynicism, allegory, hyperbole, metonymy, and of course, metaphor. Each of these requires us, as interpreters, to recognize that the literal meaning of an expression is not identical to what the speaker intends us to understand. Most figurative, rhetorical devices thrive on ambiguity. This is especially true of metaphor. Ambiguity in metaphorical expressions results from uncertainty as to how the first part of a nonliteral statement is to be understood in terms of its second, or implied, part. Usually, in metaphor, it is thought that some aspect of the first subject of the comparative statement is similar to some aspect of the second subject. For instance, in the phrase, “all the world’s a stage,” there is ambiguity with regard to how the world is to be understood as a stage – or, to put it as a questions, in what way is the world like a stage? We might think of this ambiguity as “internal” to an expression. That is, once you recognize something as figurative, there is ambiguity involved in decoding how its parts evoke meaning. As an aesthetic element, ambiguity contributes to an expression’s richness.

Besides this internal ambiguity, there is also often a lingering ambiguity as to whether something is even meant to be understood metaphorically. Given the phrase “God is a warrior,” we must first establish whether or not we should be interpreting this statement literally or metaphorically. If we determine that the phrase was meant literally, our interpretive process is relatively straightforward.

If we determine that the phrase was meant figuratively, then we must establish possible meanings and the limits of its implications. Admittedly, these two ambiguities – each derived from different structural element in discourse – are often interrelated, but they are not the same linguistic phenomenon. Although this study will recognize repeatedly these two levels of ambiguity, the main focus will be on the problem of how we determine whether a given statement harbors the kind of ambiguity that gives license to a metaphorical interpretation.

The idioms to be considered are most often very simple, as far as syntax is concerned. Many are predicate nominatives or nominative phrases with a simple verb, for example: God said, God is King, God is a rock, God is an army, God is creator. Despite syntactic simplicity, some idioms involve more abstract concepts, such as when God regrets that he had made humans on earth (Gen 6:6)(1) or when God reflects (via Jeremiah) that it was he who (physically) smote the children of Judah because of their religious waywardness (Jer 2:30), or when God commands laws (e.g., Exod 21-24), or when God declares (via the prophet) that he never demanded sacrifice (Isa 1:12-14; Jer 7:21-22; Amos 5:21-23).(2) Just how we categorize and then interpret these phrases – and the many hundreds of others that are spoken by or about God in the Tanakh – will determine how we write the history of Israelite God-belief. (pages 1-2)

One generation’s solutions to the unknown become another generation’s source of uncertainty, just as one generation’s literalisms became another’s metaphors. The tolerance for uncertainty constantly shifts with an era’s preferences. There is no progression from concrete to abstract, literal to metaphorical, plurality of meaning to singularity of meaning. All of these are natural by-products of the human struggle to make sense. When researching the development of a given religion, we can distinguish the mystic from the straightforward pietist just as much on the basis of their semantic theory as by the outward structures of their beliefs and practices. These theories may never be articulated, but they are always operative. Thus, as we seek to decipher the distinct approaches to meaning that are at the foundations of religious texts and practices, we need to be forever cognizant not only of how ideologies understand the creation of meaning, but also, how they cope with the inevitable ambiguities. (page 199)

  1. See Fretheim 1984 on God’s change of mind.
  2. There is much scholarly literature on the question of whether these phrases are to be taken as literal statements or hyperbolic ones. See, for instance, Kaiser 1983, 24-33.


David H. Aaron is Professor of Bible and History of Interpretation at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati. He earned a doctorate from the department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University and was ordained at HUC-JIR (C ’83). He has served as the Director of the CCAR/HUC-JIR Joint Commission for Sustaining Rabbinic Education (1998-2000) and continues to work with the commission as a Co-chair, representing HUC-JI

Dr. Aaron’s publications are in the areas of Biblical Studies, Midrash and more broadly, the history of interpretation. Pursuing a deep interest in linguistics, Aaron’s first book, Biblical Ambiguities: Metaphor, Semantics and Divine Imagery, merges contemporary semantic theory with biblical exegesis, especially regarding metaphorical imagery in the Hebrew Bible. Two books are currently underway: Authentic Decalogue, which seeks to teach how we go about sequencing the origins of biblical narratives based on evidence internal to the text and uses the Ten Commandments as an entry point; Syncretism and Self-Definition: Essays on the Problem of Myth and Meaning in Early Rabbinic Judaism will explore issues such as anti-mysticism in Genesis Rabba and the rhetoric of “literalism” in rabbinic midrash.

David H. Aaron is married to Marjorie Corman Aaron, who teaches Alternative Dispute Resolution and Negotiation at the University of Cincinnati College of Law.

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The Self-Renewing Congregation: Organizational Strategies for Revitalizing Congregational Life

Isa Aron
Jewish Lights Publishing, 2002

The synagogue is the institution American Jews love to hate. It is the Jewish organization they are most likely to join, and the one they are most likely to participate in on a regular basis. It is also the most likely target of their ire and their humor. Nearly everyone has a favorite synagogue story – about a boring service, a callous member of the clergy, an outlandish bar mitzvah, a bitter controversy. An old joke tells of the Jewish Robinson Carusoe who builds two congregations on his deserted island – the one he attends, and the one he would never set foot in.

Beyond the jokes and critiques lies an undeniable truth: if there is one place that will preserve the Jewishness of the American Jew, that place is the synagogue. At any given time, 40% of American Jews belong to a congregation; it is estimated that 80% have been members of some congregation at some point in their lives. If one wants to reach the largest proportion of Jews, one must work with congregations.

The recent interest in synagogue “transformation” is a result of the acknowledgment, on the one hand, of the enormous potential of synagogues, and the realization, on the other hand, that many have fallen short of their potential.

The growing body of research on congregational life (both Jewish and Christian) teaches us that some congregations act more “intelligently” than others. They are open to new ideas, flexible in their outlook, thoughtful in their policies, and, therefore, better able to adapt to their changing environments.

Organizational consultant Peter Senge coined the term “learning organization” to characterize institutions that engage in a continuous cycle of action and reflection. Some who have applied the concept of the learning organization to congregations have used the term “learning congregation.1” In contrast, I have chosen the term “self-renewing,” to emphasize the reflexive and cyclical nature of this activity, the fact that much of the learning is internal, and that the learning is incomplete without concomitant action.

Four capacities are the cornerstones to congregational self-renewal. These are collective capacities, over and above the individual abilities of congregants and staff. Each capacity enables the congregation to do the seemingly paradoxical – to hold fast to both ends of an apparent dilemma. They are:

  • Thinking back and thinking ahead: being both reflective and proactive
  • Enabling leaders to follow, and followers to lead: practicing collaborative leadership
  • Seeing both the forest and the trees: creating community among diverse individuals
  • Honoring the past while anticipating the future: balancing tradition and change.

Each of these dual capacities is discussed in a separate chapter of the book. In each case, I explain why both of these seemingly opposite capacities are critical for synagogues to cultivate. Drawing on organizational theory and research from the worlds of business, education, and government, and on selected Jewish texts, I explore what each capacity entails. Drawing on sociological studies of religious organizations, and on my own decade-long experience working with synagogues, I offer examples of the problems which arise when these capacities are absent and the benefits that accrue when they are present. Developing these capacities, and balancing one against the other, is no easy matter, and each chapter includes exercises designed to help a synagogue committee or task force understand and practice the capacity in question. It also includes text study guides that can serve as spring-boards for discussion. Finally, each chapter includes a real-life case study of a synagogue’s efforts to develop the capacity in question.

Framing these four chapters, which form the core of this book, are introductory and concluding chapters. Chapter 2 reviews the recent history of American synagogues, and explains why, at this juncture, it is critical that they develop the capacity to become self-renewing. At the end of the book, chapter 7 deals with two kinds of synergy – between the four capacities discussed in this book, and between the congregation as a whole and the individuals within it.

  1. see, for example, Thomas Hawkins, The Learning Congregation (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1997).

Isa Aron is Professor of Jewish Education at the Rhea Hirsch School of Education, HUC-JIR/Los Angeles, where she teaches courses in teaching, philosophy of education, and organizational change. She was the Founding Director of the Experiment in Congregational Education (ECE), a project of the RHSOE, now in its twelfth year. She continues to serve as the Senior Consultant to that project, which works with congregations throughout the United States, helping them become self-renewing congregations of learners.

Dr. Aron holds a Ph.D. in philosophy of education from the University of Chicago, and has published widely in journals, such as The American Journal of Education, Religious Education, and Jewish Education. She is the Senior Editor of A Congregation of Learners, published by the UAHC Press, and the author of Becoming a Congregation of Learners and The Self-Renewing Congregation, both published by Jewish Lights Publishing. She is married to the photographer, Bill Aron; they have two young adult sons.

Dr. Isa Aron discusses her new book in an online video conversation with Dr. Robert Weinberg, Director, Experiment in Congregational Education, at – click on the picture of the book cover!

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Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon Project
The first and only comprehensive Aramaic lexicon, covering all dialects and periods of pre-modern Aramaic, is being prepared by an international team of scholars at the world center of Aramaic lexicography studies headquartered at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati. Professor Stephen A. Kaufman (HUC-JIR/ Cincinnati) and Professor Joseph A. Fitzmyer (Catholic University of America, emeritus) are the editors of The Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon; Professor Michael Sokoloff (Bar Ilan University) is the associate editor; Dr. Jerome Lund (HUC-JIR/ Cincinnati) is the Senior Research Scholar.

Dr. Jerome A. Lund and Prof. Bezalel PortenAramaic Documents from Egypt: A Key-Word-in-Context Concordance (Eisenbrauns). A key-word-in-context concordance of legal, epistolary, and administrative Aramaic documents from ancient Egypt (mainly from the Persian period) as published in Textbook of Aramaic Documents from Ancient Egypt (B. Porten and A. Yardeni, ed.).

Michael Sokoloff, A Dictionary of Jewish Palestinian Aramaic of the Byzantine Period, Second Edition (Bar Ilan University Press and The Johns Hopkins University Press). A dictionary for students and scholars of the Palestinian Talmud, the Palestinian Targum, and the Palestinian Midrashim.

Michael SokoloffA Dictionary of Jewish Babylonian Aramaic of the Talmudic and Geonic Periods (Bar Ilan University Press and The Johns Hopkins University Press). The first dictionary ever to be devoted exclusively to this dialect of Aramaic, intended for students and scholars of the Babylonian Talmud  and the Geonic literature.

Rabbi Howard L. ApothakerSifra, Dibbura deSinai: Rhetorical Formulae, Literary Structures, and Legal Traditions (HUC Press). A study of the rhetorical structures and legal contents of a unit of the Midrash Sifra, this book is a revision of Rabbi Apothaker’s HUC-JIR doctoral dissertation.

Dr. Isa AronThe Self-Renewing Congregation: Organizational Strategies for Revitalizing Synagogue Life (Jewish Lights Publishing). A guide for revitalizing congregations of all denominations and sizes based on Founding Director Dr. Aron’s twelve years of experience with the Experiment in Congregational Education [see excerpt on page 13].

Rabbi Carole B. Balin, consulting ed., for Sondra LeimanThe Atlas of Great Jewish Communities: A Voyage Through History (UAHC Press). A history for young people from the 1st century through modern day Israel which introduces prominent Jews through history as well as leading Jewish communities throughout the world.

Dr. Avraham Biran and Rachel Ben-DovDAN II, Chronicle of the Excavations and the Late Bronze Age “Mycenaean” Tomb (Annual of the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology, HUC-JIR). Biran describes the excavations carried out from 1993 to 1999; Ben-Dov presents a detailed description and analysis of the 3400-yearold tomb and its opulent remains – ceramics, weapons, metal vessels, glass, jewelry, ivory, and human and animal bones.

Dr. Eugene B. BorowitzStudies in the Meaning of Judaism (Jewish Publication Society). This JPS Scholar of Distinction volume presents 33 essays by Dr. Borowitz which explore his views on Jewish theology, education, history, law, ethics, and religious dialogue over the past 50 years.

Dr. Eric CaplanFrom Ideology to Liturgy: Reconstructionist Worship and American Liberal Judaism (HUC Press). An examination of Reconstructionist interpretation and adaptation of traditional Jewish liturgy and the creation of new prayers to express its changing ideology.

Dr. Martin A. CohenThe Canonization of a Myth: Portugal’s “Jewish Problem” and the Assembly of Tomar (1629) (HUC Press). Based on manuscript material from the Portuguese archives, this monograph shows how the right-wing in Portugal sought to label as a secret Jew any and all people who were striving to modernize their country.

William Cutter and David C. Jacobson, eds., History and Literature: New Readings of Jewish Texts in Honor of Arnold J. Band (Brown University Judaica Series). Bringing together forty major interpreters of classical and modern texts and including important articles by David Ellenson, William Cutter, Michael Meyer, Stanley Nash, and Ezra Spicehandler.

Dr. Lawrence A. Hoffman, ed., My People’s Prayer Book: Traditional Prayers, Modern Commentaries, Vol. 6, “Tachanun and Concluding Prayers” (Jewish Lights Publishing). This volume presents traditional liturgy with a new translation as well as commentaries by respected scholars from all movements of Judaism on the liturgy, its history, and its meaning. Contributors include Dr. David Ellenson, Dr. Alyssa Gray, Dr. Joel M. Hoffman, Dr. Lawrence A. Hoffman, and Rabbi Lawrence Kushner.

Dr. Leonard S. Kravitz and Dr. Kerry M. Olitzky, ed. and trans., Mishlei: A Modern Commentary on Proverbs (UAHC Press). A contemporary, gender-sensitive translation of the book of Proverbs with commentary which incorporates classical and modern critical scholarship.

Dr. Rina R. LapidusBetween Snow and Desert Heat: Russian Influences on Hebrew Literature, 1870-1970 (HUC Press). An analysis of the influence of Russian prose and poetry on Hebrew literature through an examination of textual parallels in nine case studies.

Rabbi Robert N. LevineThere Is No Messiah…and You’re It: The Stunning Transformation of Judaism’s Most Provocative Idea (Jewish Lights Publishing). A presentation of the messianic vision and false messiahs throughout history, which is then challenged with the belief that each person should act now according to messianic ideals rather than wait for the coming of the messiah.

Rabbi Yehoram Mazor, Rabbi David Ariel-Joel, and Rabbi Maya Leibovich ed., Barukh She’asani Isha? [Blessed for Creating Me a Woman?] (Yediot Acharonot Publishers). An exploration by prominent scholars and lecturers in Judaic studies of various aspects of Jewish Womanhood throughout the ages.

Rabbi Yehoram Mazor, Rabbi David Ariel-Joel, and Rabbi Maya Leibovich ed., Milchemet Gog Umagog [The War Before the Messianic Era] (Yediot Acharonot Publishers). Analysis by prominent Israeli scholars of Apocalyptic Messianic beliefs from biblical times until recent Zionist ideology with reflections on “the final war between Good and Evil.”

Dr. Ellis RivkinThe Unity Principal: The Shaping of Jewish History (Behrman House). An exploration of how monotheism has enabled Jews throughout history to adapt themselves, their communities, and their vision of the Covenant, whenever they were confronted by new circumstances or historical forces, to ensure Jewish survival and vitality.

Jean Bloch Rosensaft, ed., Thirty Pieces / Thirty Years: Sculpture by Ann Sperry (Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Museum, New York). An exhibition catalogue with essays by Laura Kruger, Dr. Norman J. Cohen, and Pepe Karmel.

Dr. Gary P. Zola, ed., and Dr. Fred Krome, managing ed., The American Jewish Archives Journal, Vol. LIV, No. 1 (The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives). Highlights from this volume include articles on American Jewish philanthropist Felix Warburg’s attitude toward the Palestinian Arabs in the aftermath of the 1929 riots; the Independent Order of True Sisters, a 19th century American Jewish women’s organization; and the edited and annotated collection of letters from Rebecca Aaronson Brickner to her husband Rabbi Barnett Brickner written from Palestine in the early 1930s.

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The Council of Alumni Associations of HUC-JIR fosters a mutually supportive and collaborative relationship between the College-Institute and its alumni by providing a voice for alumni, a link between alumni and the College-Institute, and support to each of the Alumni Associations. We achieve these three goals by:

VOICE Working in a collaborative relationship with HUC-JIR’s President and administration to: Voice alumni ideas for advancing the College-Institute’s mission and shaping the College-Institute’s future, and Advocate for issues of common concern to alumni.

LINK Serve as a conduit for the College-Institute to alumni in their roles as ambassadors for the College-Institute to the Reform community and the broader Jewish community; Assist the College-Institute in recruitment and development.

SUPPORT Supportthealumniassociationsofeachoftheschoolsintheirmissionstocreatea meaningful and lasting bond between the College-Institute and its alumni; Enhance communication, joint planning, and collaboration among the College-Institute’s alumni associations; and Foster and model a spirit of mutual understanding, respect, collegiality, and cooperation among alumni in their relationships with the College-Institute and in their daily professional lives.

To achieve these goals, the Council is made up of representatives of each of the CollegeInstitute’s Alumni Associations: The Cantorial Alumni Association, The Graduate School Alumni Association, The New York School of Education Alumni Association, The Rabbinic Alumni Association, The Rhea Hirsch School of Education Alumni Association, and The School of Jewish Communal Service Alumni Association, working together with members of the HUC-JIR administration.

Cantorial Alumni Association
Cantor Rebecca Garfein
Cantor Dana Anesi

Graduate School Alumni Association
Wave Nunnally, Ph.D., Chair
W. David Nelson, Ph.D.

New York School of Education Alumni Association
Yonni Wattenmaker, M.A.R.E.
Joanne Doades, M.A.R.E.

Rabbinic Alumni Association
Rabbi Les Gutterman
Rabbi Michael Berk
Rabbi Sally Priesand

Rhea Hirsch School of Education Alumni Association
Mindy Davids, M.A.J.E.
Dr. Roberta Goodman, M.A.J.E.

School of Jewish Communal Service Alumni Association
Dale Glasser, M.A.J.C.S./M.S.W.
Marsha Rothpan, M.A.J.C.S./M.S.W.

Rabbi Norman J. Cohen, Ph.D.

Joy Wasserman, M.A.J.E.

Rabbi Ellen Nemhauser

Gregg Alpert, M.A.J.E./M.A.J.C.S.

Saturday, November 8, 8-9:30 am
HUC-JIR Alumni Shabbat Study and Breakfast with Provost Norman J. Cohen at the UAHC Biennial in Minneapolis


In Memoriam

Rabbi Stanley F. Chyet, beloved Professor Emeritus of American Jewish History, former Director of the Edgar F. Magnin School of Graduate Studies, and Associate Director of the American Jewish Archives, who will be remembered as a passionate advocate for social justice, dedicated teacher, and gifted poet.

Arthur Grant, a loyal son of the Jewish people, who grew up in the Reform Movement in Toronto and dedicated his life to the vitality of Judaism worldwide through years of devoted service as NELFTY Regional Youth Director, the first Regional Director of the UAHC Canadian Council for Reform Judaism, National Director of Programs and Regions and architect of the Biennial conventions at the UAHC, and as Vice President for Administration and Strategic Planning at HUC-JIR.

Bob Rosin, the guiding force in the creation of the College-Institute’s web presence in 1995, who will be remembered for his warmth, humor, and devotion to the Reform Movement.

Matthew Ross, esteemed honorary member of the Board of Governors and distinguished former Chair of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.

Dror Weinberg, beloved cousin of rabbinical student Rachel Goldenberg (NY ’03), and the IDF colonel in charge of the Hebron command who was killed there.

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Faculty and Administration Appointments

For faculty and administration appointments, visit our website at

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HUC-JIR Museum/New York
One West 4th Street, New York, NY 10012
Hours: Mon.-Thurs., 9 am 5 pm; Fri., 9 am 3 pm;
Selected Sun., 10 am 2 pm
Information/Tours: 212-824-2205
Admission: Free

Rebirth After the Holocaust: The Bergen-Belsen Displaced Persons Camp, 1945-1950
Through July 3
Upon the British Army’s liberation of the BergenBelsen concentration camp on April 15, 1945, the uprooted and homeless Jewish survivors emerged with a boundless determination to rebuild their lives. During the next five years, the Bergen-Belsen Displaced Persons Camp became the largest DP camp in Germany and a vibrant center of rehabilitation, reconstruction, and rebirth. This self-governed Jewish community established political, cultural, religious, educational, and social activities that renewed Jewish life. Its leaders challenged British policy limiting immigration to Eretz-Israel and played a significant role in the struggle for the establishment of the State of Israel. This photo-documentary exhibition depicts an inspiring and untold chapter in Jewish history, when brave men and women emerged from destruction and joined together to fight for Jewish and human rights, freedom, and life.

Thirty Pieces/ Thirty Years: Sculpture by Ann Sperry
Through June 26
Sculptor Ann Sperry’s first major retrospective explores the relationship between the artist’s feminism, innovative technique in welded steel, and her identity and Jewish heritage. Beginning with work from her first one-person show in New York City in 1973, the exhibition continues with examples of each of her major series of the following thirty years.

Lilith Magazine: The Voice of Jewish Women
Through June 27
An exhibition celebrating more than 25 years of the award-winning independent Jewish women’s magazine, Lilith. The exhibition documents the impact of feminist Jewish journalism during the pivotal years 1976-2001, includes fine art illustrations for the magazine, original manuscripts, iconic photographs, and memorabilia supporting Jewish women’s roles in the world. It addresses diverse topics such as women rabbis and cantors, women and Jewish ritual, Jewish community, public celebrations, scholarship, health and healing, images of Jewish women, “unheard” women of the Diaspora, intimate relationships, and body image.

Living in the Moment: Contemporary Artists Celebrate Jewish Time
The continuing presentation of new, outstanding, and innovative works of Jewish ceremonial art, created by internationally recognized artists. These unique and limited edition works are available for acquisition, so that they can enter into the lives of families and communities.


HUC-JIR Skirball Museum/Cincinnati
3101 Clifton Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45220
Hours: Mon.-Thurs., 11 am – 4 pm; Sun., 2 – 5 pm
Information/Tours: 513-221-1875, ext. 358
Admission: Free

An Eternal People: The Jewish Experience
The museum’s permanent exhibition features Jewish archaeological artifacts from the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology in Jerusalem, Jewish ceremonial and ritual objects, and exhibits depicting Torah study, American Judaism with an emphasis on Cincinnati and HUC-JIR, aspects of the Holocaust, and modern Israel.


Skirball Museum of Biblical Archaeology/Jerusalem
13 King David Street, Jerusalem, Israel 94101
Hours: Sun.-Thurs., 10 am – 4 pm
Information: (02) 620-3257
Admission: Free

The permanent exhibition focuses on the archaeological work of the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology. Artifacts and models from excavations at Tel Dan, Tel Gezer, Tel Aroer, and Tel Ira are on view. Thematic displays include the dig camp experience, religious belief and cult practice, burial behavior, gates and fortifications, and the saga of the Israelite Settlement.


HUC-JIR Skirball Cultural Center/LA
2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90049
Hours: Tues.-Sat., 12 5 pm; Sun., 11 am – 5 pm
Information: (310) 440-4500
Tours: (310) 440-4564
Admission: Free through October 15

Visions and Values: Jewish Life from Antiquity to America
Featuring works from the HUC-JIR Skirball Museum’s permanent collection, this exhibition traces the history, accomplishments, and values of the Jewish people over four thousand years, culminating with their experiences in the United States and contributions to American culture.

For information on HUC-JIR’s traveling exhibitions, please call (212) 824-2218.

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Alumni Honored at Founders’ Day 2003

Cincinnati, March 9, 2003

Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa

Rabbi Marc Edward BerksonCongregation Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun, Milwaukee, WI
Rabbi Alan Carl FlamSenior Associate University Chaplain, Brown University, Providence, RI
Rabbi Gary A. Huber, Congregation Beth Tikvah, Worthington, OH
Rabbi Mark Steven KramExecutive Director, Florida Hillel Council, Coral Gables, FL
Rabbi Stephen Fisher MochCongregation B’nai Emmunah, Tarpon Springs, FL
Rabbi Martin Sandor ScharfChaplain, Kivel Campus of Care, Phoenix, AZ
Rabbi Samuel R. Seicol, Director of Religious Services, Hebrew Rehabilitation Center for the Aged, Boston, MA
Rabbi Myra SoiferTemple Sinai, Reno, NV
Rabbi Dennis Edward WaldCoral Gables, FL

Doctor of Jewish Communal Service, honoris causa

Alan S. EngelExecutive Director, Jewish Community Federation of Louisville, Louisville, KY
Jordan Sigmund HarburgerExecutive Director, Greater Dallas Jewish Community Capital Campaign, Dallas, TX


New York, March 16, 2003

Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa 

Rabbi Richard Dean Agler, Congregation B’nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL
Rabbi Stephen Wise GoodmanGarden City Jewish Center, Garden City, NY
Rabbi David E. GreenbergTemple Shaaray Tefila, Bedford Corners, NY
Rabbi Ira Lee KorinowTemple Emanu-El, Haverhill, MA
Rabbi Mark Joel MahlerTemple Emanuel of South Hills, Pittsburgh, PA
Rabbi Steven Samuel MasonNorth Shore Congregation Israel, Glencoe, IL
Rabbi Lester PolonskyEducational Director, Temple Avodah, Oceanside, NY
Rabbi Laurence Allan SchlesingerTemple Beth El of Huntington, Huntington, NY
Rabbi Laurence M. SkopitzTemple Beth David, Rochester, NY
Rabbi Warren G. StoneTemple Emanuel, Kensington, MD

Doctor of Music, honoris causa

Cantor Barry Abelson, Temple Israel, Minneapolis, MN
Cantor Bruce Marshall Benson, Boca Raton, FL
Cantor Phyllis Schmetter Cole, River Edge, NJ
Cantor Don Alan Croll, Temple Shalom, Dallas, TX
Cantor Elliott H. Dicker, Beth Ami Congregation, Boca Raton, FL
Cantor Gail Posner Karp, Temple Emanuel, Davenport, IA
Cantor Mark Lipson, Temple Shalom, Norwalk, CT
Cantor Steven Pearlston, Free Synagogue of Flushing, Flushing, New York
Cantor Elias Roochvarg, Temple Israel, Charlotte, NC
Cantor Sarah J. Sager, Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple, Beachwood, OH


Los Angeles, May 19, 2003*

Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa

Rabbi Harold F. Caminker, Temple Beth El, Riverside, CA
Rabbi John Daniel Cooper, Chaplain, Retirement Villages, Buderim, Queensland, Australia
Rabbi Karen L. Fox, Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Los Angeles, CA
Rabbi Rosalind Ann Gold, Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation, Reston, VA
Rabbi Gary Greenebaum, Western Regional Director, American Jewish Committee, Los Angeles, CA
Rabbi Mark Samuel Hurvitz, Congregation Etz Chaim, Ramona, CA
Rabbi Benjamin A. Kamin, Congregation Beth Israel, San Diego, CA
Rabbi Sheldon J. Marder, Chaplain, Jewish Home for the Aged, San Francisco, CA
Rabbi Sheldon Wayne Moss, President, Seven Blessings, Berthoud, CO
Rabbi Michael David Oblath, Professor of Ancient Israel, St. Mary’s College of California, Moraga, CA
Rabbi Shaul Osadchey, Congregation Or Ami, Houston, TX
Rabbi Deborah R. Prinz, Temple Adat Shalom, Poway, CA

Doctor of Jewish Religious Education, honoris causa

Janice P. AlperExecutive Director, Jewish Educational Services, Atlanta, GA
Adele Lander BurkeVice President, Life-Long Learning, HUC-Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, CA
Vicki Reikes FoxMuseum Consultant, Los Angeles, CA
Nancy Pryzant PicusDirector of Judaic Studies, The Shlenker School, Congregation Beth Israel, Houston, TX
Natalie RayGreat Neck, NY Doctor of Jewish

Communal Service, honoris causa

Janis F. BallinValley Village, CA
Wayne L. Feinstein, San Francisco, CA
Irving L. GinsbergRancho Mirage, CA
Miriam Prum HessVice President for Planning and Allocations, Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Marcie Schoenberg LeeDirector, Hillel Teaching Scholars Program, Hillel Jewish Student Center, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
Deena Bubis LibmanDevelopment Coordinator, San Diego Jewish Academy, San Diego, CA

*Honorary degrees in Los Angeles are awarded at a special ceremony on Graduation Day.

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2003 Jerusalem Album

HUC-JIR Governors, Overseers, and administration visited the Jerusalem Campus in March as part of a solidarity mission with the HUC-JIR/Jerusalem family and the people of Israel. Their visit featured the Ordination convocation in which Rabbi Ellenson ordained the two newest Israeli Reform rabbis and hon- oray degrees were presented to leading intellectual leaders of Israel and dedicated HUC-JIR alumni; sessions with the extended HUC-JIR community of Israeli students, faculty, and stateside rabbinical and education students spending their first year of study at the Jerusalem School; meetings with prominent Israeli political leaders; and an excursion exploring the “Burma Road,” the emergency bypass route to Jerusalem forged by the Palmach to circumvent the Arab siege in 1948.

At the Jerusalem Ordination convocation, rabbinic ordinees, honorary doctorate recipients, and HUC-JIR/Jerusalem administration: (front, from left) Rabbi Helena Rubinstein, Professor Ruth Kartun-Blum, Arie Gluck, Rabbi Ellenson; (standing, from left) Rabbi Michael Marmur, Rabbi Tamar Duvdevani, Jurist Moshe Negbi, Rabbi Michael Klein-Katz, Professor Michael Rosenak, Rabbi Seymour Gitin, Rabbi Levi Lauer, and Rabbi Shaul Feinberg.

John Golden (center) was inducted onto HUC-JIR’s Board of Governors by Burton Lehman, Chair, and Rabbi David Ellenson.

Forty stateside rabbinical and education students in the Year-in- Israel program on the Jerusalem campus.

HUC-JIR Governors, Overseers, and Year-in-Israel rabbinical and education students at the monument marking the “Burma Road.”

Newly ordained Helena Rubinstein, the first FSU emigrant to become an Israeli women rabbi, and Tamar Duvdevani.

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