The Chronicle issue #66 2005

The Chronicle




  • HUC-JIR Students, Faculty, and Alumni
  • Assist in Hurricane Relief Efforts
  • Always Faithful! An HUC-JIR Student Joins the Marines
  • HUC-JIR Students at URJ Camps and Summer Youth Programs
  • Digging Tel Dan and Strengthening Judeo-Muslim-Christian Understanding
  • The Transdenominational Leadership Institute for Congregational School Principals
  • Strategic Planning Update
  • Dedication of the New Edwin A. Malloy Education Building at The American Jewish Archives
  • Dr. Bamberger Memorial Lecture: Dr. Grace Cohen Grossman
  • The Soul of the Jew: Minhag Ami — My People’s Prayer Book













HUC-JIR’S MUSEUMS Jean Bloch Rosensaft










On the cover: Rabbinical students Mark Miller (LA ’07), Gersh Lazarow (LA ’08), and songleader Michelle Citrin welcome Shabbat at Gindling Hilltop Camp in Malibu, California.


The Chronicle is published by the National Office of Public Affairs.
Editor: Jean Bloch Rosensaft
Assistant Editor: Rachel Litcofsky
Contributors: Dr. Nili Fox, Ruth Friedman, Dr. Grace Cohen Grossman, Dr. David Ilan, Leah Kaplan, Rabbi Richard N. Levy, Rabbi Nancy H. Wiener
Design: Tabak Design (
Photo Credits: Fred Lane, Richard Lobell, Janine M. Spang, Marvin Steindler


President’s Message

Almost a century ago, Martin Buber, in a famous essay entitled “Jewish Religiosity,” called upon Jews to engage in a revitalization of the Jewish spirit. He believed that modern Jews could yet recapture and display the sense of genuine “religiosity” that lay at the heart of Judaism despite the forces of secularization and disenchantment that dominated the modern world.

His words speak out to us in a commanding way even today. Buber, in insisting that Judaism required us “to establish a living communion with the unconditioned,” captured the eternal spiritual urge that characterizes the human situation. In offering this description of religion, Buber maintained that religious spirituality was not otherworldly. As he wrote, “Genuine religiosity has nothing in common with the fancies of romantic hearts.” Instead, Judaism asserts that the “spiritual urge” inherent in each us can only authentically be realized though “deeds.” Judaism requires “a leap of action.” As Buber phrased it, “Genuine religiosity is doing.”

Following a tumultuous year in which natural disasters have plagued the globe, we are more aware than ever that we can understand ourselves and the requirements of our faith only through doing. This is why the current issue of The Chronicle features the relief efforts of our students, faculty, and alumni, as our community seeks to respond to the devastating impact of these hurricanes. In cooperation with the Union for Reform Judaism, the College-Institute has sought to behave in a God-like manner in offering comfort and support to the hundreds of thousands of persons – Jews and Gentiles – uprooted by these storms. I believe you will be inspired by Leah Kaplan’s report on how our students and alumni have attempted to aid in the repair and renewal of the lives and property destroyed by the storms and how the College-Institute family has sought, through acts of gemilut hasadim (loving-kindness), to discharge our responsibility as Jews in the world.

Judaism asserts that the “spiritual urge” inherent in each us can only authentically be realized through “deeds.” Judaism requires “a leap of action.” As Buber phrased it, “Genuine religiosity is doing.”

Our sense of service to our Movement is displayed in other ways as well. The place that the students of the College-Institute occupy in the success of summer camps of the URJ is well-known. We are delighted to celebrate that role in an article by Rachel Litcofsky that describes the part that our students play in building Jewish identity for our youth in the summer camps and youth programs of the Reform Movement. Study after study has demonstrated that the informal educational setting of “total Jewish living” that camps provide is of unparalleled significance in nurturing life-long commitments to Judaism and Jewish values. HUC-JIR believes that the leadership positions our students hold in these camps is an indispensable part of their education and formation as future Jewish leaders.

At the same time that we acknowledge our commitments to the world of Reform Judaism, we recognize our obligations to Klal Yisrael as well. Jean Bloch Rosensaft reports on how the extraordinary generosity and vision of UJA-Federation of New York has allowed HUC-JIR to partner with the Jewish Theological Seminary to create a Leadership Institute for Congregational School Principals. This initiative transcends denominational distinctions and allows these major institutions of the Reform and Conservative Movements to demonstrate that what unites us as Jews is often far more significant than the issues that divide us. In attempting to meet the challenges of congregational educational leadership, JTS and HUC-JIR bear witness to our determination to cooperate with one another on matters of genuine import to the Jewish people.

Our duty extends to the larger world as well. The article describing the training that rabbinical student Andrew Goodman received this past summer at the U.S. Navy Base in Newport, Rhode Island, indicates that the College-Institute must fulfill its obligation to provide pastoral care and support for our armed forces. An article written by Professors Nili Fox and David Ilan on the renewal of our HUC-JIR dig at Tel Dan bespeaks the role that Jewish study can play in strengthening Jewish-Christian-Muslim understanding.

Our devotion to Jewish learning and our belief that “study leads to doing” is also exhibited in these pages in other ways. We celebrate the dedication of the new Edwin A. Malloy Building at the American Jewish Archives and salute the Malloy Family and The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati for their generosity and Dr. Gary Zola for his vision in making this dream a reality. The words of Eli Evans that were delivered at the dedication ceremony brilliantly articulate the mission of the AJA in its new home. In addition, the Dr. Fritz Bamberger Memorial Lecture delivered by our alumna Dr. Grace Cohen Grossman, Curator of the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles and two-time recipient of the National Jewish Book Award for works in the field of Jewish Art, bespeaks the crucial role that museum collections play in interpreting and disseminating the messages and teachings of Judaism in the modern world.

The efforts of our faculty and supporters in forging Jewish life and values through written publications are highlighted as well. Due to the genius of Lawrence Hoffman and the foresight and imagination of our Governor Stuart Matlins, a nine volume series on the Jewish siddur, Minhag Ami – My People’s Prayer Book, to which scholars at HUC-JIR and other institutions across the Jewish denominational spectrum have contributed, has sold over 50,000 copies! Jean Bloch Rosensaft pays proper homage to this remarkable accomplishment and her article indicates how these volumes have immeasurably enriched the prayer-life of the Jewish people. And we are honored to present Richard Levy’s A Vision of Holiness: The Future of Reform Judaism, as well as Nancy Wiener’s Judaism for Two: A Spiritual Guide for Strengthening and Celebrating Your Loving Relationship, a work Rabbi Wiener has co-authored with her colleague Rabbi Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.

The challenges of sustaining and furthering our mission so that the types of projects and efforts described in this issue of The Chronicle can continue for our posterity are considerable and HUC-JIR is most mindful of them. This is why the Board of Governors and the Administration, under the leadership of a committee chaired by Governor Barbara Friedman and VicePresident for Administration Gregory N. Brown, have embarked on a strategic planning process. While this process will be ongoing, the first fruits of this process and the criteria that have been established to assess our current programs and plan for the future are presented in a report presented in these pages.

In the end, the aspirations of the Hebrew Union CollegeJewish Institute of Religion to educate leaders who will inspire others to act in the world in ways that will bless and enrich humanity are captured in the variety of speakers who addressed our students at Graduation, Ordination, and Investiture exercises this past year. Richard Levin, Peachy and Mark Levy, Ruth Messinger, David Weiss-Halivni, and David Saperstein all have engaged in the “leap of action” that Buber said was the hallmark of authentic Jewish faith. We are pleased to present the words they delivered on our campuses so that their lives and thoughts can direct and inspire all of us as HUC-JIR seeks to fulfill the mandate Buber outlined a century ago. His words are of enduring value and the College-Institute will continue to observe them as we move ahead into the future.

Rabbi David Ellenson
Tishri 5766 October 2005

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HUC-JIR Students, Faculty, and Alumni Assist in Hurricane Relief Efforts

by Leah Kaplan 

Writing sermons, greeting congregants, and developing relationships with a new community are standard fare for HUC-JIR students preparing to assume their new student pulpits this Fall. But for some this year, the task of drafting their first eloquent words to inspire congregations gathered for the High Holy Days was imbued with an additional challenge.

Small Reform congregations dot the wide swath of devastation left in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and in the coming year, several HUC-JIR students will spend alternate Shabbatot and holidays in these communities, bringing with them some measure of solace amidst the chaos.

Micah Lapidus, a third-year rabbinical student in Cincinnati, is serving Temple Shalom in Lafayette, Louisiana, which has doubled in size since Hurricane Katrina. “Temple Shalom does not want to turn away anyone who comes to them in need without some sort of assistance,” he says. Temples throughout the Gulf region have demonstrated the altruism that Lapidus witnessed in Lafayette, opening their homes, synagogues, and Hebrew schools to families displaced by the hurricanes.

Rabbi Andy Busch, leader of the historic Touro Synagogue in New Orleans, and his wife, Rabbi Debra Pine, head of Jewish Studies at New Orleans Jewish Day School – both HUC-JIR alumni (C ’94 and ’92, respectively) – found themselves exiled from home and synagogue when Katrina struck. They, along with many members of their synagogue, including Cantor Seth Warner (SSM ‘01), first evacuated to the Union for Reform Judaism’s Henry S. Jacobs Camp in Utica, Mississippi, which now serves as a collection center for Jacob’s Ladder, a relief effort led by the URJ.

When Hurricane Katrina ceased, and Busch and Pine (with their three children) found that they couldn’t return home, they were welcomed by Congregation Beth El in Houston. “The congregation has been incredible,” says Busch, whose own children, along with many others from Touro Synagogue, are now enrolled in the local day school. Many of Busch’s congregants are being housed by Beth El families. Beth El has also provided office space for Touro staff displaced by the hurricane, so that the synagogue can continue to function until infrastructure has been rebuilt in New Orleans.

Rabbi Valerie Cohen (NY ’99) and her synagogue, Temple Beth Israel in Jackson, Mississippi, have warmly welcomed approximately 100 evacuees from New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast into their community. Many arrived in Jackson owning “only stilts, a slab (the house foundation), and a mortgage,” she says, illustrating the complete devastation wreaked on the area.

Rabbi Edythe Held Mencher (NY ’99), Assistant Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Concerns, is on call at Temple Beth Israel to help provide counseling and support to Jewish and non-Jewish families in their midst. By providing free synagogue membership and free enrollment in both the Hebrew school and non-sectarian pre-school, Rabbi Cohen and Temple Beth Israel hope to send the message that “you are a part of our community for as long as you want to be.”

Micah Lapidus’s student pulpit community in Lafayette responded in a similar way. “The community worked together,” he says, “to create an organized and compassionate response rooted in an unspoken sense of empathetic duty. During the High Holy Days, when living the words of Torah appears a daunting and overwhelming task, the members of Temple Shalom are a source of inspiration and pride to the Jewish community in their work to aid Jewish evacuees in Lafayette. Their quiet heroism reminds us all of our obligation and privilege, that of mending the brokenness of our world.”

Rabbinical student David Reiner (C ’08), serving Louisiana Congregation Gates of Prayer in New Iberia, Louisiana – a small synagogue comprised of closely-knit, extended Southern families – echoes Lapidus’s call for repair and renewal. He tells his congregants that “after an appropriate period of mourning, it is important for people to move on with their lives, a message that we certainly see in the Jewish mourning rituals. It is time to start moving toward rebuilding. It is important to remember that it is possible for wonderful things to happen after tragedy.” Reiner says that helping communities in need “is one of the reasons why I decided to attend rabbinical school.”

A United Front

The Reform movement has taken an active role in the relief effort, beginning with the URJ’s large-scale project, Jacob’s Ladder, led by Jonathan Cohen (SJCS ’91), which has transformed Camp Jacobs into a full-scale collection zone for donation and distribution of supplies and provisions. Volunteers have already distributed approximately $500,000 worth of food and supplies through Jacob’s Ladder to help feed people in the Houston Astrodome, and to aid communities that are struggling to absorb evacuees from New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

Synagogues across the Southwest have come to each other’s aid, offering evacuees everything from High Holy Days seats to clothing. A group of rabbis and volunteers, including HUC-JIR alumni Rabbi Martha Bergadine (C ’96), executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Baton Rouge, her husband, Rabbi Stan Zamek (C ’96) of Beth Shalom Synagogue, and Rabbi David Saperstein (NY ’73), Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, rescued 25 Torahs from synagogues around New Orleans, many of which suffered serious damage. Rabbi Andy Busch of Touro Synagogue marvels that although the surrounding neighborhoods were submerged, the Temple’s 100-year-old building, home to the oldest living congregation in the country, survived Katrina largely unscathed.

HUC-JIR Responds

The HUC-JIR community, including administration, faculty, Board, and students, responded immediately to the disaster. Dr. Nina Hanan, Chief of Staff, led relief efforts in cooperation with the URJ, in response to Rabbi Eric Yoffie’s call to action. Together with Rabbi Ellenson, they communicated with and updated the HUC community. Dr. Hanan worked closely with the URJ, especially with Rabbi Victor Appel and the HUC-JIR stateside Deans, to inform students and help guide their volunteering as well as to provide them with financial assistance.

Eager to contribute, students at the New York campus raised funds for the URJ Relief Fund and packaged large quantities of clothing to be shipped to evacuees in the Gulf. At the Cincinnati campus, where many students have pulpits in or near the Gulf Area, the response was synagogue-centered. Rabbinical students Charlie Cytron-Walker, President of the Cincinnati Rabbinical Students Association, and Noah Chertkoff and Erica Asch, Co-Chairs of Social Action, spearheaded an action team with the guidance of Rabbi David Komerofsky, Dean of Students and Director of the Rabbinical School in Cincinnati.

Chertkoff describes the sense of urgency felt on campus: “The students and faculty have been seeking ways of providing sustainable and responsible assistance in this time of need. Our goal is to be there long after this issue is making headlines.” Their primary task is to recruit rabbinical students to go to communities affected by hurricanes during the High Holy Days, and to provide practical assistance such as counseling and religious services. They have organized partnerships between student pulpits, enabling rabbinical students like Lapidus and Reiner to get support from their classmates serving other areas. The group has collected mezuzot from their pulpits to distribute to displaced Jewish congregants. “This is not only a way for us to supply ritual objects, but to also keep congregations in affected areas in our hearts and minds in the future,” says Chertkoff. package and ship supplies. He shared his support in a community-wide announcement, saying “I know that all of you will serve and guide your communities to the best of your ability as you confront the devastating impact of these hurricanes.”

Fifth-year rabbinical student Anne Brenner (LA ‘06) headed south ten days after Katrina hit. As a New Orleans native and licensed social worker who has written extensively on mourning, she worked as a Red Cross volunteer for nearly three weeks, sleeping in homeless shelters and on a Naval Base in Gulfport, Mississippi. There, Brenner assisted Red Cross and FEMA volunteers to serve meals, coordinate dissemination of donated goods, and provide the meaninful aid of comforting evacuees. The evacuees she met were “people who had lost everything; people who had been in jail; in mental hospitals; had spent the night with their families on the roofs of their flooded homes.” To Brenner, helping the displaced and the homeless “validated everything I have taught about bikkur holim and spiritual direction. I encountered people of such faith that I am moved to understand spirituality in a much deeper way. I know I will be a better rabbi as a result of it.”

One of the mental health supervisors on Brenner’s Red Cross team summarizes the impact made by the members of the HUCJIR community and countless others: “never underestimate the power of presence.” Brenner returned to her hometown to lead High Holy Day services for returning evacuees at her father’s synagogue – Shir Chadash – in Metairie, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans.

HUC-JIR faculty members have supported their students’ activism by providing supplemental instruction on topics ranging from spiritual healing to pragmatic relief-effort coordination, coursework on Jewish responses to death and mourning, and a special session on sermon preparation in the aftermath of the hurricanes, designed to help adapt quickly to their roles as leaders in a time of crisis.

This initiative was truly a team effort. HUCJIR Deans Dr. Aaron Panken and Rabbi David Komerofsky, and Nicole Vandestienne, Assistant to the President, were instrumental in the coordination of this project. The College-Institute is especially grateful for the generous gift of financial support to assist student volunteers with travel expenses from Steven Lefkowitz, a member of the New York Board of Overseers.

HUC-JIR President Rabbi Ellenson is proud of the role being played by students and alumni. He encouraged students to spend the period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur at Camp Jacobs, helping to package and ship supplies. He shared his support in a community-wide announcement, saying “I know that all of you will serve and guide your communities to the best of your ability as you confront the devastating impact of these hurricanes.”

Fifth-year rabbinical student Anne Brenner (LA ‘06) headed south ten days after Katrina hit. As a New Orleans native and licensed social worker who has written extensively on mourning, she worked as a Red Cross volunteer for nearly three weeks, sleeping in homeless shelters and on a Naval Base in Gulfport, Mississippi. There, Brenner assisted Red Cross and FEMA volunteers to serve meals, coordinate dissemination of donated goods, and provide the meaninful aid of comforting evacuees. The evacuees she met were “people who had lost everything; people who had been in jail; in mental hospitals; had spent the night with their families on the roofs of their flooded homes.” To Brenner, helping the displaced and the homeless “validated everything I have taught about bikkur holim and spiritual direction. I encountered people of such faith that I am moved to understand spirituality in a much deeper way. I know I will be a better rabbi as a result of it.”

One of the mental health supervisors on Brenner’s Red Cross team summarizes the impact made by the members of the HUCJIR community and countless others: “never underestimate the power of presence.” Brenner returned to her hometown to lead

High Holy Day services for returning evacuees at her father’s synagogue – Shir Chadash – in Metairie, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans.

HUC-JIR faculty members have supported their students’ activism by providing supplemental instruction on topics ranging from spiritual healing to pragmatic relief-effort coordination, coursework on Jewish responses to death and mourning, and a special session on sermon preparation in the aftermath of the hurricanes, designed to help adapt quickly to their roles as leaders in a time of crisis.

This initiative was truly a team effort. HUCJIR Deans Dr. Aaron Panken and Rabbi David Komerofsky, and Nicole Vandestienne, Assistant to the President, were instrumental in the coordination of this project. The College-Institute is especially grateful for the generous gift of financial support to assist student volunteers with travel expenses from Steven Lefkowitz, a member of the New York Board of Overseers.

HUC-JIR President Rabbi Ellenson is proud of the role being played by students and alumni. He encouraged students to spend the period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur at Camp Jacobs, helping to Rabbis and relief leaders have suggested that the best way for individuals to contribute is to purchase gift cards at major retail chains (Walmart in particular is accessible across the affected region) or Visa Gift Cards, and mail them to the URJ so that they can be distributed to families who need to buy clothes and provisions. Unrestricted cash donations to Jewish institutional operating budgets are also critical. By providing salaries to employees and enabling bills to be paid, they will help to prevent the collapse of infrastructure so that synagogues and Jewish welfare organizations can continue to open their doors to all who seek refuge.

Noah Chertkoff summarizes the imperative felt by the HUC-JIR community to come to the aid of our brethren in the Gulf: “As future leaders and teachers of Reform Jewish communities, we feel an awesome sense of responsibility to meet the challenges of our time. Our tradition has made our mission abundantly clear, as our sages have written, “The world is sustained by three things – by Torah, by service, and by acts of loving-kindness” [Pirkei Avot 1:2]. We know that by extending ourselves to others, we are enriching our own lives.”

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“Total Jewish Living”

HUC-JIR Students Build Jewish Identities at URJ Camps and Summer Youth Programs

Rachel Litcofsky

Jewish education doesn’t end with summer in the Reform Movement. The Youth Division of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) offers a range of summer programs (see that enable young Jews between the ages of eight and fifteen to explore Jewish living away from home and amongst their peers. These “Total Jewish Living” programs are led by a trained staff, including a large number of HUC-JIR rabbinical, cantorial, and education students who choose to spend their summer immersed in the excitement and challenges of leading Jewish camping and summer youth experiences.

HUC-JIR students serve around the country and throughout the entire URJ Youth Division, either as staff at one of the URJ’s twelve camps, or at a summer program run by NFTY (North American Federation of Temple Youth). The youth group’s offerings include the Mitzvah Corps, a National Leadership Center at Kutz Camp, and several educational touring programs in Israel. These venues provide training for future Jewish leaders who come together to teach the next generation how to build and strengthen Jewish identity.

“Working at a Union camp is an opportunity to be engaged in teaching and informal education, developing skills in prayers, and pastoral counseling for campers and staffers,” explains Paul Reichenbach, URJ Director of Camping and Israel Programs. “URJ camps are at the leading edge of creative informal Jewish education. This setting is an ideal training environment for HUC-JIR students in a wide range of areas that will serve them well throughout their careers.”

While the day at camp may be filled with a variety of recreational activities, the campers are fundamentally engaged in Jewish experiential living. Jewish education infuses all of the programming at URJ camps, including daily t’fillot and a variety of learning opportunities inspired by each camp’s Jewish theme, such as “God, Torah, and Israel,” chosen for that summer.

Reichenbach estimates that half of the students enrolled at the College-Institute have at one point or another served as staff members at a Union camp or youth program. This summer alone, there were more than thirty HUC-JIR students on staff at URJ camps (see page 7). Jewish camping is an extremely popular leadership opportunity among HUC-JIR students, because a summer camp or youth program internship fulfills a professional development prerequisite in the core rabbinical curriculum leading to ordination, as well as in the cantorial and education degree requirements.

Through their roles as directors, madrichim (counselors), roshei edot (unit heads), limudim (education staff), or song leaders, HUC-JIR students ensure that every moment is a Jewish teaching moment. These committed students help to create a memorable summer in which campers are surrounded by Jewish people, Jewish ideas, Jewish values, and the Hebrew language.

For HUC-JIR’s students, the preparation for camp begins long before the start of summer. Throughout the spring they collaborate with each other on education plans, design activities, and train their staff in anticipation of a meaningful experience for the campers. Students access the College-Institute’s and the URJ Education Department’s resources, and call upon their knowledge of Jewish texts, pastoral counseling, the Hebrew language, and other skills learned at HUC-JIR to assist them in their planning and in their work throughout the summer.

Rabbinical students Laura Baum (C ’08) and Rick Kellner (LA ’07) served as Directors of Limud at Crane Lake and Eisner Camps, respectively. They oversaw and implemented the education programs and assisted in writing the curricula for the camps. “My experiences at camp taught me that Judaism is not something that just happens in classrooms, prayer spaces, or on holidays; Judaism infuses all that we do,” states Baum.

As Assistant Director of Greene Family Camp in Bruceville, Texas, rabbinical student Asher Gottesfeld Knight (C ’07), along with education student Mara Michaels (RHSOE ’06) and an educational staff (all of whom were HUC-JIR students), incorporated part of the URJ Department of Lifelong Learning’s model for curricular development into their plan for the summer. Gottesfeld Knight believes that applying elements from the Department’s book, Understanding by Design (Wiggins and McTighe; Prentice Hall, 2000), to creative programming “was why campers left this summer with a deeper knowledge of Judaism and how Judaism can be translated into daily experiences.”

Many HUC-JIR students enjoyed summers at Union camps long before they were old enough to be staff members. Once a camper herself, rabbinical student Amy Trager Rossel (C ’09) returned to the Greene Family Camp last summer for her thirteenth year. Others who take leadership roles at camp have no camping background themselves, but know that the professional experiences gained during the summer will be invaluable. This was why rabbinical student Loren Filson (C ’08) spent the summer at Maurice B. Shwayder Camp in Colorado as the student rabbi overseeing all Judaic programming and worship.

She and fellow rabbinical student Micah Lapidus (C ’08) decided to work at Shwayder because they “wanted to experience Jewish camping, and see why camp is such a formative experience in the development of a strong and well-informed Reform Jewish identity for so many Jewish youth,” explains Lapidus.

Amy Trager Rossel found that at camp “I had the opportunity to teach practical information – how to be a Jewish counselor using Jewish text – and to hone my management skills. All of the skills involved in these tasks will help me immensely in my professional career.” For most HUC-JIR students, camp is a bucolic locale for professional development; a place where they fine-tune their skills and expectations for their rabbinate. There they have the opportunity to connect with experienced rabbis, cantors, and educators in the field, learning from their future colleagues and contributing to the ongoing dialogue.

Rabbinical student Elinor Steinman (LA ’09), last year’s Co-Director of the new Mitzvah Corps Program at Kutz Camp, a training camp for high school student leaders, describes the impact that Jewish camping made on her professional aspirations: “I hope that some of my work at camp will serve as a model for what my rabbinate will be. These professional relationships have already been tremendously beneficial to me when I needed some guidance on issues at my student pulpit.”

For some students, these summer experiences prompted a dramatic turning point in their lives, ultimately bringing them to HUC-JIR. Rabbinical student Mark Miller (LA ’07) found that his years working as a camp Director “were instrumental in [his] decision to attend rabbinical school,” He sees “becoming a rabbi as a continuation of what I have been doing, more than a change in careers.”

Cantorial student Mia Fram Davidson (SSM ’07) recalls “It was as a teenager at Kutz Camp that I was first inspired to lead and teach Jewish music, a passion that ultimately led me to cantorial school at HUC-JIR.” Having just spent her third summer as a visiting faculty member there, she credits the work she did at Kutz – song leading, teaching instrumental music, music composition, leading choir, and education programs – as a complement to her training at the School of Sacred Music.

The great impact that Jewish camping has on its staff is only a small hint of the transformation experienced by campers. Education student Hope Chernak (NYSOE ‘07) trained temple youth group leaders at Kutz Camp. She witnessed the profound impact that this summer program had on her campers’ development as Jews. “Reform Jewish camping and summer programs are a significant foundation for creating Jewish memory for our young people. The summer is a time to build upon the values that they have learned at home from their families and congregations,” she states.

Campers bring this foundation of values with them when they return home. By creating an ever-expanding network of educated and committed youth, Jewish camps and summer programs tangibly enhance the Jewish hometowns in which these young Jews live. Once the summer is over, these young adults look to their home communities, synagogue life, and youth programs as environments in which they can sustain their Jewish living and learning during the rest of the year.

The “Total Jewish Living” experience is vital to the development of an educated and committed Reform Jewish identity among the Movement’s youth. By teaching, leading, and inspiring young people, HUC-JIR students not only gain professional and hands-on training, but also help shape the next generation of the Reform Movement – and encourage some of them to be the next generation of applicants to HUC-JIR’s programs!


HUC-JIR Students at URJ Camp and Youth Programs during the Summer of 2005
(list in formation)

URJ Kutz Camp, NFTY National Leadership Center
Warwick, NY
Hope Chernak, NYSOE ’08
Mia Fram Davidson, SSM ‘07
Zoe Jacobs, SSM ‘09
Kevin Kleinman, NY ‘09
Eleanor Steinman, LA ‘08

URJ Joseph Eisner Camp, URJ Northeast Camp Institute
Great Barrington, MA
Rick Kellner, MAJE ‘05, LA ‘07

URJ Camp Harlam
Kunkletown, PA
Joe Hample, LA ‘09

URJ Camp Coleman,
Cleveland, GA
Michael Shields, C ‘08

URJ Crane Lake Camp, URJ Northeast Camp Institute
West Stockbridge, MA
Laura Baum, C ‘08
Lisa Delson, C ‘09

URJ Camp Newman
Santa Rosa, CA
Jill Cozen Harel, NY ‘09
Jonathan Jaffe, LA ‘07
Beth Kalisch, NY ‘09
Jessica Oleon, LA ‘07

URJ Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute (OSRUI)
Oconomowoc, WI
Josh Strom, NY ‘08

URJ Myron S. Goldman Union Camp-Institute (GUCI)
Zionsville, IN
Daniel Schwartz, C ‘08
Elizabeth Wood, C ‘09

URJ Henry S. Jacobs Camp
Utica, MS
Katie Bauman, C ‘09
Lydia Bloom LA ‘10
Craig Lewis, C ‘08
Erica Seager Asch, C ‘08 (visiting faculty)

URJ Greene Family Camp
Bruceville, TX
Erin Ellis, LA ‘09
Asher Gottesfeld Knight, C ‘07
Anna Gray, C ‘07
Mara Michaels RHSOE ‘06
Sara Reichenbach, NYSOE ‘07
Ann Sanguinet, RHSOE ‘07
Amy Trager Rossel, C ‘09


Wilshire Boulevard Temple Camps
Camp Hess Kramer and Gindling Hilltop Camp
Malibu, CA
Yossi Kuzecki, J ‘06
Gersh Lazarow, LA ‘08
Dan Medwin, LA ‘08
Mark Miller, LA ‘07
Emily Rosenzweig, LA ‘06

Maurice B. Shwayder Camp
Idaho Springs, CO
Loren Filson, C ‘08
Micah Lapidus C ‘08

NFTY Mitzvah Corps
Erica Seager Asch, C ‘08
Melissa Simon, C ‘09

NFTY Israel Summer Programs
Noah Chertkoff, C ‘08
Nir Cohen, J ‘07
Emma Gottlieb, SSM ‘09
Tamar Grimm, NY ‘09
Marshal Klaven, C ‘08
Alex Koyfman, NY ‘10
Adam Rosenwasser, NY ‘09
Josh Whinston, LA ‘08

Noam Katz, NY ‘09 artist-in-residence/visiting faculty at 7 URJ camps’

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Always Faithful! An HUC-JIR Student Joins the Marines

Leah Kaplan

Jewish history is no stranger to war; but for most Jews in America today, battlefields are the stuff of grainy newspaper photographs and CNN – arenas barely closer to our daily lives than the Biblical battles of yore. But several HUC-JIR rabbinical students have decided to bring the field closer to home. This past summer, rabbinical student Andrew Goodman (NY ’08), made his bed each morning at Camp Pendleton, a 500 squaremile Marine base near San Diego, training to become a military chaplain. Along with forty-six fellow trainees, representing multiple faiths, Goodman completed an officers’ basic training course in the Navy and apprenticed under an active chaplain, participating in the daily life of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Third Assault Amphibious Battalion.

While rabbinical students traditionally take a summer pulpit or chaplaincy internship closer to home, Andrew Goodman chose to combine the rigors of pastoral training with those of the military. He trained at a U.S. Navy base in Newport, Rhode Island, and after three weeks was assigned to a Marine battalion at Camp Pendleton for on-site training. Waking up at 4:00 a.m. to shave and shine his shoes was just the beginning of a daily routine of calisthenics, academic classes, and occasionally even training inside an amphibious tank, where he learned to provide counseling and spiritual guidance to seasoned Marines.

Goodman was not the first HUC-JIR student to participate in this program. “I was really inspired by the experiences that Jared TelRav and Ruth Gelfarb, forth-year rabbinical students in New York, had in the program last year. They led me to believe that I would be challenged in a very different way from my standard rabbinical training.” Goodman explains that the chaplaincy training enabled him to “work in a larger society that isn’t only Jewish and that is representative of a different part of American Jewish experience. And though the military community that I encountered might not be the largest part of our Jewish community, it is a significant part of the American community, and that will be invaluable to my rabbinate and to my interactions with people in the future.”

Pluralism in the Trenches

Seven weeks in the chaplaincy training program turned out to be a boot camp of religious pluralism. While on base, Goodman took part in Catholic, Gospel, Protestant, and Muslim religious services led by fellow chaplain candidates, and along with the five Jewish (out of forty-six) trainees, led weekly Shabbat services. He explains that many of the candidates who attended “had never seen Jewish prayer before, but because most seminaries require Hebrew language studies, they were able to sing along with us. Our service generated such an amazing sense of community.” A shared commitment to serving the spiritual needs of the military fueled a common bond among the trainees. “Our training commander, Commander Mike Dory, a Catholic priest, aptly called the program ‘a three-week intense course on religious pluralism.’”

Indeed, the chaplains’ motto reflects this: Provide for your own, facilitate others, and care for all. Goodman describes this nonfaith-specific approach: “As an active chaplain, I would provide services and rituals for the Jewish troops, make sure that Episcopalians have access to a local Episcopalian clergyman, and in general, I would ensure that everyone, regardless of faith or identity, knew that I was available to them all the time, to listen and comfort.”

Goodman learned this ethos from Chaplain Lieutenant Brian Weigelt, a Nazarene. “Despite the seeming chasm that would lie between a Reform Jew and a Nazarene, we were fairly well-matched and our purpose for being there and teaching styles were wonderfully compatible.”

Crisis Counseling

Goodman’s base camp was a swinging-door for Marines preparing to deploy or returning from Iraq or the Pacific. Because of long terms of service and war-induced trauma, emotional and psychological stress and spiritual confusion were common. Goodman explains that the role of a chaplain is to transcend the military command structure and, with an assurance of complete confidentiality, to provide a safe environment where the sailor, soldier, or marine can come in to talk about the feelings of fear or anxiety that they might not be willing to disclose to their superiors. While officers are there to make sure that the soldiers perform, the role of the chaplain is to make sure that every individual is functioning and coping.”

At the base Goodman learned crucial counseling skills that will deeply impact his rabbinical future. “If I saw anyone who was alone I would go up to them and start a conversation. Marines function as a family. If there’s any sort of deviation from the tightknit group it’s an indication that there could be a problem. The individuals most likely to be affected by combat trauma are people who don’t have that social support network.”

In some cases, this network is practical rather than social. Goodman mentions that “many chaplains teach courses on budgeting and financial planning. At 18 and 19 years old, many Marines are unequipped to deal with the problems that await them when they return from service. They deal with problems of life and death in military service, but as civilians they are still teenagers. To handle the adult problems of the civilian world they often need some extra scaffolding.”

Always Faithful!

When asked what role religion plays in the life of a Jewish Marine (comprising about 2% of the military), Goodman explains that “God is in the everyday discourse in the military, but it’s not faith-specific…There’s an honored sense of the holy, of honor and family.” In times of trauma, soldiers do turn to or from their own religions. “There are some people whose entire spiritual world is shattered because of what they’re seeing. People turn back to religion, as well, in times of crisis.”

Chaplains know that America’s toughest soldiers are also quite vulnerable. Goodman emphasizes the need for liberal-minded chaplains in light of the recent press about evangelical proselytizing among the chaplain corps. “I had the opportunity to press a lot of my fellow chaplain candidates on some of these issues that they don’t see as problematic because they are so in tune with their theology and what they are trained to do.” In a military setting where people are conditioned to respect authority, it is crucial that chaplains “learn to walk the line between the role the military gives you and the role you take on from your own faith community.

I think we need liberal chaplains out there who are willing to keep the dialogue going and keep everything in check, while providing emotional and spiritual advisers for our troops.”

But would he consider continuing his training and going active as a military chaplain? Periodic contact with his Navy supervisor and ongoing physical conditioning keep this option open. Whether Goodman returns to the Navy or not, he is sure that “what I learned about interfaith dialogue and about my own strengths and weaknesses are invaluable; these are lessons that I will use for my rabbinate.”



In the Footsteps of Abraham:


Dr. Nili Fox, Associate Professor of Bible, HUC-JIR/Cincinnati, and Dr. David Ilan, Director, Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology, HUC-JIR/Jerusalem

HUC-JIR’s Dr. Nili Fox and Dr. David Ilan unearthed more than just ancient artifacts during their summer excavation at Tel Dan in Israel.

The core participants of their expedition – HUC-JIR/Cincinnati graduate students (Don Carlson, Kristi Garroway, Russ Mack, Andy Riley), archaeological staff (Hal Bonnette, David Milson, Greg Snyder), and the program directors (Dr. Nili Fox, Dr. David Ilan) found that HUC-JIR’s archaeological dig made a difference in the lives of young people at a time when building religious and ethnic tolerance can meaningfully ensure Israel’s future.

This summer saw the start of an expanded mission for the College-Institute’s archaeology program, beginning with the renewal of our HUCJIR excavations at Tel Dan, the site excavated under the direction of Professor Avraham Biran for more than three decades (1966-1999). We returned to Tel Dan because the famous 3700year-old Middle Bronze Age mudbrick arched gate complex, recently proposed a UNESCO World Heritage Site, required additional excavation before the National Parks and Israel Antiquities Authorities’ teams could undertake conservation work. Our team of students and volunteers from Israel and the U.S. served a key role in this monumental project.

The excavation was a success, allowing conservators to begin repairs and renovations of the ancient architectural masterpiece. Not only will the complex astonish future visitors to the ancient city of Dan, but its conservation will preserve the ingenious accomplishments of those very ancestors upon whose shoulders our own feats rest.

But the lessons of the Tel Dan expedition are much more farreaching and immediate than the preservation of a legacy of edifices. In keeping with the mission of HUC-JIR, we have made it axiomatic that any NGSBA excavation will incorporate a social action element. Certainly archaeology lends itself to human interaction and communication.

With all this in mind, we invited 20 junior high school students and scouts to dig with us during the third week of the excavation season, July 18 – 22. The teens came from four villages in the Galilee: Shfar’am and Kabul – two Arab villages, and Harduf and Hanita – two Jewish villages. Three of their scout leaders accompanied and worked with the teens: Omar Asfour, a high school teacher and archaeologist from Kabul, Ali Ayoub, Director of the Islamic Scouts from Shfar’am, and Leor Klass, a youth leader from Harduf.

Thus, for one week, our dig site and base camp were transformed into a multi-ethnic and cultural human hive. Including the adult volunteers, our group was comprised of Jews, Muslims, and Christians, with natives of communities stretching halfway across the globe.

The teens were amazing workers, enduring long hours swinging picks and heaving shovels without complaining. Best of all was how naturally the entire group interacted with each other, and the interaction did not cease in the trenches. Mealtime of course lends itself to camaraderie and laughter; there is no better place for that than in the field, where the call for breakfast or fruit break is anxiously awaited by all. But even more significant and memorable were our joint afternoon and evening activities. It is truly amazing how a few circle games melt social boundaries.

The finale to a resoundingly successful week was a grand BBQ celebration. The young people prepared the post-meal entertainment: skits, musical numbers, and words of appreciation. The scene was a composite of glowing faces, some even reflecting a few teardrops. Within a very short time, just a few days, the unfamiliar “other” became a friend.

Fourteen-year-old Anan Rayan, an Israeli-Arab of Kabul village, expressed the feelings of these teenagers: “It’s a difficult day for many of us because we’ll leave each other after a hard but wonderful week. The tremendous thing was that we are from different places, cultures, and religions. We worked, played, ate, and did everything together. These events we will never forget.”

So what did we really find at Tel Dan this summer, besides pottery sherds, jewelry, fragments of various implements, and remains of monumental architecture, all spanning millennia of craftsmanship and technology? We, volunteers of distinct cultural backgrounds, found at Tel Dan ways to touch each other’s minds and hearts. Our common goals and general fellowship overcame religious and political divides. The unanimous conclusion of all involved is that we want to include the youth project in our excavation again next year, but with even more students and scouts over a longer period of time. These “finds” from our excavation are tikkun olam at its finest.

In reality, however, we have merely made a modest beginning, one that will require future nurturing and continuity. Our mission is long term and multifaceted. It also serves as a model for other archaeological expeditions. The Reform Movement has always been innovative in constructing roads of tolerance and paths for diversity; connecting them to cultural studies of antiquity is especially valuable. We, the members of the Tel Dan Excavation Team and the Graduate Summer Program in Israel of HUC-JIR, are proud to lead the archaeological world on this wider mission. It is not sufficient that the Middle Bronze Age arched gate at Tel Dan will be restored. Our greater goals demand that we recover, repair, and preserve the past and use the past to make a better present and future, as well.

Finally, this summer’s activities bring to mind one particular portrait of Tel Dan. Whenever Dr. Avraham Biran, the original excavator of the site, speaks of biblical Dan, he begins by capturing the imagination of his audience as he paints a scene of our great patriarch Abraham entering the city through the Middle Bronze Age arched gate. As that very gate is now being restored, we can expand upon Dr. Biran’s picture by also imagining Abraham’s sons, Isaac and Ishmael, walking side by side with their father through the gate.

The Summer Program in Israel, a joint venture between the School of Graduate Studies at HUC-JIR in Cincinnati and the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology (NGSBA) in Jerusalem, was inaugurated in the summer of 2000 with multiple goals in mind. Most importantly, it offers the opportunity for our Ph.D. students, some of whom have never been to Israel, to experience the land and its people firsthand. Students spend three weeks at the Jerusalem campus where, in a whirlwind, they acquire basic modern Hebrew, tour a myriad of ancient and modern sites in and around Jerusalem, and are ultimately embraced by the magical spirit of the city. One day each week they embark on a more distant tiyyul (fieldtrip), exploring the archaeological sites of a particular region of Israel, such as the northern Negev or Shephelah. Having tirelessly hiked the countryside, these students are now in shape for part two of the program – a four-week, hands-on course at an archaeological excavation. At the dig, participants divide their time between doing fieldwork and studying the methods and techniques of archaeology. Evening activities are composed of a mixture of academic lectures and socializing.



Transforming Jewish Educational Leaders:

The Trans-Denominational Leadership Institute for Congregational School Principals

Jean Bloch Rosensaft

More Jewish children receive their formal Jewish education in congregational schools than in any other venue. To succeed, these schools need leaders who are well-equipped to develop vibrant cultures of Jewish learning, articulate clear goals accompanied by concrete activities, build effective lay-professional teams, and translate Judaism into educational experiences that engage children and their parents ever more actively in Jewish life.

A $1.8 million dollar grant has established the groundbreaking Leadership Institute for Congregational School Principals (LICSP), a joint project of Hebrew Union CollegeJewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) and The Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS). Initiated by UJA-Federation of New York’s Commission on Jewish Identity and Renewal (CoJIR), this grant marks an important trans-denominational effort to address the need for professional growth in Jewish educational leadership. The mission of the Institute is to ensure that congregational school principals master critical competencies in the core areas of Judaism, leadership, and pedagogy, and develop the attitudes and skills for further professional development.

In launching this initiative, Rabbi David Ellenson, HUC-JIR President, and Rabbi Ismar Schorsch, Chancellor of JTS, express a resounding affirmation of the concept of klal yisrael: “HUC-JIR and JTS will approach this Institute with mutual respect, a shared inquiry into the commonalities and differences between the movements, and a commitment to early resolution of potentially problematic issues. Furthermore, HUC-JIR and JTS – institutions training the professional leadership for the Reform and Conservative Movements of Judaism, respectively – share the Commission’s belief that strengthening the educational leadership of congregational schools is vital to transmitting Jewish identity and knowledge, building Jewish community, and continuing development of Jewish education as a professional field. We are grateful for UJA-Federation of New York’s recognition of the need for continuing education for Jewish educators and its investment of human and financial resources toward this visionary project.”

“We are delighted to support the groundbreaking partnership between Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and the Jewish Theological Seminary,” adds Alisa Rubin Kurshan, Vice President, Strategic Planning and Organizational Resources, UJA-Federation of New York. “The Leadership Institute for Congregational School Principals is an exemplary collaborative initiative that will have a major impact on the quality of education Jewish children receive through congregational schools. By providing principals with the education, resources, skills, and support they need to excel in the progession, we believe the institute will improve the landscape of congressional education in New York and beyond.”

“The Leadership Institute summer seminar was an inspiring and fulfilling two weeks – the best professional development I have been involved with in all my years of Jewish educational leadership. The barriers of Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, and Orthodox were significantly lowered, and we were all able to come together for the sake of study and development in a truly meaningful way.”

Yonni Wattenmaker, NYSOE ’96, LICSP Mentor; Director of Education at Temple Shaaray Tefila of Northern Westchester, Bedford Corners, NY.

The mission of the Institute is to build leadership capacity in Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, and Reconstructionist congregational and communal schools serving nearly 35,000 students in New York, Long Island and Westchester, as well as in schools in the greater New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania area. Forty congregational school directors have been selected for the two-year program.

The curriculum stands on three pillars of success: Leadership, Judaism, and Pedagogy. The Leadership curriculum (vision and reflective practice, school management, culture of the school and congregation, process of change, lay-professional relationships) is designed to strengthen the professional identity and effectiveness of educational leaders by introducing the current research on educational leadership and practicing leadership skills. The Judaica curriculum (text study, theology, ideology, role modeling, personal religious growth, building a community of learners) is structured to empower congregational school principals to communicate and infuse Jewish values, skills, and practices in their schools effectively and consistently. The Pedagogy curriculum (curriculum and instruction, supervision and mentoring, professional development, action research) is devised to enhance the identity and effectiveness of congregational school principals as mentors by introducing current research on learning and practicing critical supervisory and pedagogical skills.

“I feel so fortunate to be participating in this Institute. After the initial two-week seminar, I am energized and infused with new perspectives and strategies to apply to my congregational school.”

Mason Voit, Director of Education and Jewish Family Life, Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel of Riverdale, Bronx, NY.

“All of our seminars and symposia are carefully crafted to provide models of excellence in Jewish education with the intent for possible replication in the forty schools,” explains Evie Rotstein, LICSP Project Director. “One of the special outcomes of this program has been the gathering of ‘expert educational leaders’ in the field to serve as mentors. Their energy and enthusiasm in the design and implementation of the Institute has provided our participants with quality role models who work collaboratively to support growth and change.”

LICSP participants completed the first of two intensive 10-day summer seminars this past July, focusing on Crafting a Vision, Reflective Practice, Role Clarification, Strategic Planning, Best Practices, Communal Change, Team Building, and School Transformation. Through lectures and panel discussions, case study analyses, text study, worship services, arts experiences, and meetings with mentors, the principals, mentors, and faculty bonded as a learning community.

“It was exhilarating to be here during the Summer Institute,”says Jo Kay, Director of HUC-JIR’s New York School of Education. “The building was filled with voices of people teaching and learning, connecting and networking, and sharing feelings of good will. The congregational principals, mentors, and faculty looked forward to each day as a new opportunity to learn from one another. Time and again, we saw principals and mentors, from across movement lines, studying together and planning ways that would keep them connected as cherished colleagues in the future. It was a unique learning experience that far exceeded our expectations.”

“This program further inspires the love and passion we all share regarding Jewish education. It has given us a golden opportunity to excel through visioning, culture, embracing change, reflective practice, text study, and mentoring in order to make positive, long-lasting changes in the way we affectively educate Jewish children and their famies.”

Richard Zemser, Mentor; Director of Education, Central Synagogue of Nassau County, Rockville Centre, NY

The LICSP represents transdenominational cooperation at its best. “We all marveled at the prayer experiences developed by the Institute mentors, which modeled positive educational and emotional prayer experiences for students in synagogue schools from Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist points of view,” says Dr. Steve M. Brown, Dean, William Davidson Graduate School of Education and Director, Melton Research Center for Jewish Education at JTS. “Each of us learned from the others, developing a wider vision of what we can accomplish in the synagogue school. The synergism of mentors, faculty, HUC-JIR–JTS staff and leadership has made for one of the most successful partnerships I have ever had the privilege of entering.”

“In January, the principals will attend a 6-day seminar in Israel, placing Israel education at the heart of the curriculum and modeling the central place it should hold in Jewish education and congregational schools,” explains Aviva Schwartz, LICSP Program Associate. In April, they will convene with the rabbis and lay leaders of their respective congregations to explore the issue of building Brit Kodesh – professional/lay relationships. In addition, they will participate in eight 1and 2-day skill-building workshops and four site visits to successful congregational schools throughout the two-year program. Each participant will fulfill the requirements of an approved Individual Education Plan and undertake a funded change project within their school. The program will conclude with a siyyum (conference) at JTS, at which principals who have met all of the Leadership Institute requirements will receive a personalized certificate of completion.

“Community is a basic currency of Judaism and a vital predicate to education. This Institute has done so much already to bring my shul, my school, and me into the larger environment of Jewish community at a critical point for my synagogue and for me in my role as educator here.”

Connie Heymann, Principal, The Hebrew Tabernacle, New York, NY

The core faculty is drawn from the scholars and educators at JTS and HUC-JIR. UJAFederation staff provide training in professional-lay relationships and grant writing for education projects. An Advisory Board (comprised of scholars in Jewish education and Judaic studies from HUC-JIR and JTS, congregational educational leaders as mentors, congregational rabbis and cantors, synagogue lay leaders, and UJAFederation of New York representatives) is advising on trends and new developments in research, training, and scholarship.



A Kaleidoscope of Jewish Cultural History

Study with HUC-JIR’s scholars and view HUC-JIR’s traveling exhibitions in South Florida this winter!

The Great Scholar Series
The Lifelong Learning Society, Florida Atlantic University and HUC-JIR present a series of eight lectures exploring key periods of American and European Jewish cultural history and surveying yesterday’s contributions and today’s legacy.


January 17-18
Klezmer Does the Blues
Maestro Aaron Kula,
Resident Scholar, Wimberly
Library, and Director of the Klezmer Orchestra Company Orchestra/FAU

January 24-25
Rebirth After the Holocaust: Cultural Renewal and the Persistence of Memory
Jean Bloch Rosensaft,
Senior National Director for Public Affairs and Institutional Planning; Museum Director/HUC-JIR

January 31-February 1
From Abzug to Zorinsky: A Brief History of the Jews of Capitol Hill
Rabbi Kurt F. Stone,
Rabbi and author, lecturer, and actor/FAU

February 7-8
The Bible and Its Universal Legacy
Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi,
Professor of Bible, HUC-JIR/Los Angeles

February 14-15
Baruch Spinoza: Intellectual Hero or Religious Heretic
Rabbi Robert B. Lennick,
Temple Beth Am, Jupiter; LLS Instructor/FAU

February 21-22
Jewish Writers: Old and New Traditions
Dr. Wendy Zierler,
Assistant Professor of Modern Jewish Literature and Feminist Studies, HUC-JIR/New York

February 28-March 1
The Jewish Contribution to America
Dr. Jack Fischel, Emeritus Professor of History,
Millersville University, PA; LLS Instructor, FAU

March 7-8
The Extraordinary Culture of German Jews
Dr. Michael Meyer,
Adolf S. Ochs Professor of Jewish History, HUC-JIR/Cincinnati



1:30 3:15 pm, Boca Raton Campus

1:30 – 3:15 pm, MacArthur Campus, Jupiter

Please call FAU at 297-561-3171 for Boca Raton and 561-799-8667 for Jupiter for the catalog and registration materials.

For information about HUC-JIR’s faculty and programs, please contact Gerda Klein at 561-738-2806 or

HUC-JIR Exhibitions in Florida

Lilith Magazine: The Voice of Jewish Women
January 8 – February 19, 2006

The Nathan D. Rosen Museum at the Adolph and Rose Levis Jewish Community Center
9801 Donna Klein Boulevard, Boca Raton

Celebrating more than 25 years of the award-winning independent Jewish women’s magazine and documenting the impact of feminist journalism during the pivotal years 1976-2001.

Opening Reception:
Sunday, January 8, 2:00 – 4:00 pm

Gerda Klein at 561-738-2806 or

Rebirth After the Holocaust: The Bergen-Belsen Displaced Persons Camp, 1945-1950
January 12 – February 11, 2006

The Ritter Art Gallery at Florida Atlantic University
777 Glades Road, Boca Raton

After the Allied liberation of Nazi Europe, 250,000 displaced, homeless Holocaust survivors sought to reconstruct their lives and communities. Bergen-Belsen became the largest DP camp in Germany and a vibrant center for rebirth and the struggle for the establishment of the State of Israel.

Sunday, January 22, 2:00 – 4:00 pm

Gerda Klein at 561-738-2806 or

Schedule of public programs and special events:

This exhibition is presented courtesy of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Museum in New York in collaboration with The Center for Holocaust & Human Rights Education, College of Education at Florida Atlantic University; Raddock Family Eminent Scholar Chair of Holocaust Studies; Center for the Study of Values and Violence After Auschwitz, Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters; School District of Palm Beach County, Department of Multicultural Education; Palm Beach County Board of Rabbis; League for Educational Awareness of the Holocaust, LEAH; NEXT GENERATIONS; Jewish War Veterans; Survivors, Liberators and their Families.




In February 2004 the College-Institute began a comprehensive strategic planning process in order to focus priorities for its programs and resources, address concerns of the accrediting bodies, create and establish a vision of HUCJIR’s future, and clarify its decision-making processes. The charge to the Strategic Planning Steering Committee has been to create a strategic plan that will be supported by a sustainable financial framework, building on the strengths of the institution. The Strategic Planning Steering Committee has engaged in deep conversations about the most critical challenges facing HUCJIR. It has gathered extensive amounts of data about HUCJIR’s programs, along with information about their strengths and weaknesses. In addition, a team from the Strategic Planning Steering Committee has conducted site visits to each of the four campuses, providing an opportunity to speak about strategic issues with faculty and staff in small group sessions. These site visits have been augmented by a survey of HUC-JIR students.

From August 3-7, 2005, members of the Board of Governors, senior administration of the College-Institute, and members of the Strategic Planning Steering Committee met in Aspen, Colorado, to work together on the development of a long-term strategic plan. The theme of this retreat was “Journey,” and it was co-chaired by Board of Governors members Nicki Tanner and Bonnie Tisch. Opportunities for worship and Shabbat study enriched the series of six strategic planning sessions. These workshops were designed to set the context for the overall planning efforts, to engage the Board in the key discussions of the Strategic Planning Steering Committee, and to reach consensus on the critical questions that are emerging in this process. Shifra Bronznick, Strategic Planning Consultant, facilitated these interactive sessions.

The sessions included:

  • Panel Discussion – Jewish Life in the 21st Century: How the Changes are Changing Us (Panelists included Dr. Steven M. Cohen, Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, and Rabbi/Cantor Angela Warnick Buchdahl)
  • Working Board Session – Achieving Excellence (with introductory remarks by Rabbi David Ellenson)
  • Panel Discussion – The Change Process at Other Institutions – What Works and What Doesn’t Work (moderator Barbara Friedman, panelists John Golden (Colgate), Frances Hess (Vassar), Nicki Tanner (Wellesley)
  • Working Board Session – Developing and Applying Criteria for Decision-Making
  • Working Board Session – One Institution, Multiple Campuses and Programs – Exploring the Challenges and Opportunities
  • Closing Session – Imagining Success

“The retreat participants were quite focused, diligent, and candid in these sessions,” noted Barbara Friedman, Co-Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee. “As a result, we were able to discuss complex issues with clarity and thoughtfulness. Our thinking was challenged, strengthened, and refined during the course of the five days.”

At the final session of the retreat, Imagining Success, Strategic Planning Steering Committee Co-Chairs Barbara Friedman and Gregory Brown were able to provide a clear summary of the strategic decisions that were reached during the retreat as well as identify areas that the Committee would review in depth prior to the completion of the strategic planning report. All of the recommendations and areas of study honed in on the stated goal of Achieving Excellence, which was defined by Rabbi Ellenson as “training authentic and effective professionals to serve the Jewish people.”

Strategic Decisions and Recommendations for Immediate Action

The working sessions of the Aspen Retreat provided the participating Board members with an opportunity to work with the Strategic Planning Steering Committee to mine more deeply into areas that have arisen through the Committee’s work to date, and to help shape recommendations for the future. In the next few months, the Steering Committee will augment this work with surveys of HUC-JIR alumni in the field as well as surveys of other key external constituencies. Based on the prior work, as well as the discussions at the Aspen Retreat, the following strategic decisions and recommendations can move forward:

1. Apply Consistent Criteria to Evaluate Programs and Activities

The Steering Committee developed a draft set of decision-making criteria to standardize the evaluation process for existing and new programs. The initial draft criteria were reviewed at faculty meetings during several site visits. During Friday’s Working Board Session – Developing and Applying Criteria for Decision Making – these draft criteria were tested through case studies on existing situations at HUC-JIR. As a result of the highly interactive discussions about the case studies, the criteria were reframed and presented at the closing session of the retreat. The criteria were divided among institutional objectives, financial sustainability, and external factors. The administration and the Strategic Planning Steering Committee will apply the new decision-making criteria to existing academic programs, co-curricular programs, and centers. The deans, program directors, and members of the faculty will be invited to participate in this review process as well.

2. Strengthen Excellence by Implementing a Process of Ongoing Assessment for HUC-JIR Students

HUC-JIR seeks to attract and retain a high caliber of students in its professional programs. This desire for excellence must be reflected in admissions standards and testing at key junctures during a student’s academic career and, certainly, prior to ordination. This initiative is seen as a critical building block towards achieving excellence and is a high priority in the emerging strategic plan.

3. Implement a Comprehensive Student Recruitment Strategy to Attract the Best Students Possible for Each of Our Professional Programs

Our programs are now in competition with graduate programs in Judaic studies, and there is also a lessening of interest in Jewish professional careers. In order to achieve excellence and attract highly qualified students, HUC-JIR will need to do more to identify potential students and interest them in our programmatic offerings. This effort will require further work to track admission prospects, target marketing efforts, purchase a comprehensive database system, and develop attractive, yet sustainable financial aid policies. It is expected that a more rigorous and comprehensive recruitment strategy will reap long-term benefits for HUC-JIR.

4. Infuse a Leadership Component Throughout the Curriculum of HUC-JIR Professional Programs

As Rabbi Ellenson has noted, a significant part of achieving excellence is the development of authentic and effective Jewish professional leaders. During the academic program review, and in subsequent discussions in meetings of the Strategic Planning Steering Committee, it became clear that elements of leadership training are captured in a variety of courses, but overall leadership development is not formally infused in the curriculum of each professional program. The Steering Committee had also been asked to explore the idea of the creation of a separate program leading to a master’s degree in Jewish leadership. As a result of these discussions Provost Norman Cohen convened a two-day “Leadership Institute” in July 2005. At this Institute academics from other institutions, directors, and leaders of Jewish agencies, and members of HUC-JIR’s faculty discussed ways that HUC-JIR could better contribute to the development of Jewish professional leaders. The outcome of this two-day leadership institute was a strategic decision to incorporate formal leadership training elements in the curriculum of existing programs. Given the importance of integrating leadership development into existing programs, it was decided that further discussions regarding a new master’s in Jewish leadership program will be deferred to a later date.

5. Integrate More Fully the First-Year Programs in Israel into the Curriculum

The site visit report and the analysis of the student survey point out that the required Year-In-Israel Programs have not been sufficiently integrated into the overall curriculum on the stateside campuses. During Thursday’s session on “Achieving Excellence,” these issues were discussed, and there was general agreement that this concern must be addressed through the strategic planning process. During the discussion on “one institution, multiple programs,” it was noted that working on the relationship of Year-In-Israel to the overall program can serve, in part, as a pilot project that will clarify the obstacles and opportunities for greater integration between programs. As a result, work is underway to develop a plan to clarify and communicate the goals of the first-year programs in Israel and integrate them fully into the Jerusalem and stateside curricula. The goal is to establish firmly these programs as an integral part of the overall curriculum and assure a more seamless educational process for HUC-JIR students.

6. Attract and Retain Talented Faculty by Developing a Comprehensive, Flexible, and Affordable Compensation Philosophy for Faculty and Staff

Members of the Compensation Subcommittee of the Strategic Planning Steering Committee – in partnership with the faculty, deans and administration – are expected to develop a holistic compensation and retention philosophy that incorporates merit pay, a formal post-tenure review process, and changes to the pension and benefit plans in order to provide a fair compensation package that the College-Institute can afford in both the nearand long-term. This plan should be flexible enough to provide access to appropriate levels of benefits to meet the varying needs of HUC-JIR’s employees.

Next Steps in the Strategic Planning Process

“The role of technology is integral in the next phase of our planning,” notes Barbara Friedman. “The scope will include how we use technology in our classrooms, library and archives, recruitment, student information systems, and other administrative functions. We will weigh the relative costs and benefits of these technological options in order to determine how we can best use this available technology in order to advance our excellence as an academic institution.”

As Rabbi Ellenson noted in his original charge to the Strategic Planning Committee, he expected that “some parts of the College as it now stands will surely be constricted as we move ahead. Others will just as surely be expanded, and still others will be created.”

“In order to complete the strategic planning process and develop a meaningful report that will help guide the implementation of the plan, the Strategic Planning Steering Committee will be very busy during the next few months,” says Barbara Friedman. “The Steering Committee will be working on the prioritization of programs and activities within budgetary constraints and facilities limitations, developing a sustainable financial model to complement the decision-making criteria, and communicating the results of its work to core constituencies, including academic and institutional partners, faculty, students, staff, and the Board of Governors.” The strategic plan itself will also include a process to monitor and assess the ongoing effectiveness of the implementation of the strategic plan and of HUC-JIR’s programs.

President David Ellenson stated in February 2004 at the commence ment of the strategic planning process, that “…as we consider the process that lies ahead, the words of Pirkei Avot: ‘Hamalakhah m’ruba’ – the tasks are many – ought to ring in our ears. And we recognize that ‘Ba’al ha-bayit dohek’ – the Master is pressing….”

The tasks are indeed many, and the strategic planning process has helped to clarify the work that lies ahead. The Strategic Planning Committee has noted that the College-Institute must be positioned not only to develop leaders for existing institutions of the Reform Movement, but also to train those who can serve the broader needs of the Jewish people. The successful development of a clear and financially sustainable strategic plan will prepare HUC-JIR to meet the challenges that exist today as well as those of the future.

HUC-JIR Criteria for Decision Making


  • How does the program/initiative advance the mission of HUC-JIR?
  • How does the program/initiative distinguish itself as excellent in its area? How can this be measured?
  • How does the program/initiative benefit our students’ educational experience and/or profressional development?
  • How does the program/initiative assist in the recruitment of top students and faculty?
  • How does the program/initiative advance the academic interests of HUC-JIR’s faculty?
  • Do similar programs or initiatives exist at other locations of HUC-JIR? If so, how does the program/initiative complement or augment on other campuses?
  • If not, how can the work of this program be leveraged throughout the institution?
  • How does the program or initiative raise the visibility of HUC-JIR?


  • What are the sources and uses of funds for this program/initiative and how can they be sustained over time?
  • What strain or drain does the program/initiative put on existing resources:
    • Human resources (both faculty and staff)
    • Facilities
    • Technology infrastructre
    • Academic resources (library and archives)
    • Financial resources
  • How can these overhead costs be covered?
  • How can the program be used to attact permanent funding to HUC-JIR as a whole and to the program itself?


How does the program/initiative benefir our institutional partners (i.e. URJ, other educational institutions, the wider Jewish community)?

What partnerships are needed to ensure the success of the program or initiative?

If the program/initiative were terminated, what impact would it have on HUC-JIR, the Reform Movement and Jewish life? Can other programs or institutions fill the gap?

How is HUC-JIR uniquely positioned to engage in this program/initiative? What other  institutions or organizations are engaged in similar activities?



A Living History of American Jewish Life Dedication of the New

Edwin A. Malloy Education Building at the American Jewish Archives

On a bright June morning, several hundred people gathered in the shade of a sprawling white tent on the grounds of HUC-JIR’s Cincinnati campus. They had come to witness the inauguration of a new era in the study and preservation of American Jewish history with the dedication of the newly completed Edwin A. Malloy Education Building and the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati International Learning Center at the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives (AJA). The completion of this new educational complex, containing state-of-the-art distance learning facilities, was the culmination of a six-year major physical renovation and expansion project. The Marcus Center is now a vast complex of three interconnected buildings, which makes the facility the world’s largest freestanding archival research center dedicated exclusively to the study of the American Jewish experience. It anchors HUC-JIR’s master plan to advance the improvement of the Cincinnati campus in order to ensure the College-Institute’s academic excellence, strengthen the vitality of Jewish life and learning in the Cincinnati tristate area, and transmit HUCJIR’s research resources throughout the world.

The facility memorializes the late Edwin A. Malloy, who was a devoted member of the HUC-JIR Board of Governors for many years. Malloy was an admirer and friend of Dr. Jacob Rader Marcus, who founded the American Jewish Archives in 1947. The Malloy Family’s Sun Hill Foundation provided a $2 million naming gift to a project that embodied Malloy’s lifelong love of the College-Institute, of higher Jewish learning, books, libraries, and the American Jewish Archives.

“This wonderful gift from the Malloy family foundation, Sun Hill, constitutes a philanthropic landmark for the American Jewish Archives,” notes Rabbi David Ellenson, HUC-JIR President. “The Edwin A. Malloy Education Building has literally transformed this institution, enabling us to bypass the hindrances of limited space and overcome the impediments of outmoded facilities. It enhances The Marcus Center’s ability to welcome the hundreds of scholars and students who visit the American Jewish Archives annually.” “The Malloy Education Building provides the AJA and the College-Institute with a world class educational facility that will enable us to share the preserved historical treasures with a worldwide audience,” adds Dr. Gary P. Zola, AJA Executive Director and Associate Professor of the American Jewish Experience at HUC-JIR.

The Malloy Education Building houses The Marcus Center’s Fellowship Seminars as well as lectures for the public, compelling historical exhibits in the expanded gallery area, and distance learning study programs. The Barrows-Loebelson Family Reading Room, also dedicated on June 5th, is a gift of Mrs. Winifred Barrows and her late husband, Dr. Emil Barrows, z”l, and provides scholars with a beautiful study area.

The AJA’s international impact is further enhanced by The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati International Learning Center, which enables The Marcus Center to extend its reach throughout the world via live, interactive web streaming, audio, and video exchange. The Center contains two integrated components – a multi-purpose auditorium/ distance learning center and a “smart” classroom, which enable the AJA to be both traditional and innovative in its teaching methods.

The “smart classroom,” accommodating approximately twodozen students in a seminar format, transforms students’ ability to study together in a traditional manner, all utilizing common texts, from ancient rabbinic volumes to modern documents, through the utilization of the most up-to-date modern technology and screen projection – including powerpoint, VHS/DVD, and internet resources. Thus, person-to-person learning can be enriched by seamless access to source materials or the latest available scholarly research.

The larger, multi-purpose auditorium/distance learning center integrates the AJA’s holdings of archival documents with twentyfirst century “cutting edge” technology. Students on-site and around the world can participate in a class or seminar presentation not only by seeing the images (as on TV), but by actually having interactive conversations with instructors and students – all while having access to the AJA’s documents. The classroom, with its electronically equipped instructor’s station and flexible student seating, is equipped with video and audio transmission and receiving capabilities, a large video monitor, telephone, fax line, and internet access. This flexible space can serve as a standard auditorium for lectures or film viewing, or be used for teleconferencing between multiple locations. In the latter instance, a lecturer can not only be seen and heard in multiple locations, but can also project images to illustrate the presentation – including documents, film or video. A lecture can also be recorded in this location, then combined with images or audio/ video clips. Subsequently, the entire package can be loaded onto a website, where it can be accessed at a viewer’s convenience.

“It is expected that regional universities, Jewish day schools, synagogue-based religious schools, and Jewish organizations will also seek to utilize this outstanding venue for education and outreach programming,” noted Dr. Zola. “The existence of The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati International Learning Center makes it possible for us to bring our unique holdings to local, national, and even international audiences in exciting new ways. This access to the vast, rich resources of the AJA – a living history of American Jewish life – means that more people than ever before will be able to gain a greater appreciation for the remarkable story of the Jewish experience in America. Even beyond that, the Learning Center will also be available to share and transmit the vast scholarly riches of the entire College-Institute.”

Presenting speakers at the dedication included Rabbi David Ellenson; Dr. Alfred Gottschalk, Chancellor Emeritus; Alvin Lipson, representing the HUCJIR Board of Governors; Dr. Jonathan Sarna, the Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University, who noted that “the Malloy Education Building’s facilities for scholarship and teaching will stand as one of the great legacies of this year – the 350th anniversary of Jewish life in America;” and Mr. Michael Lorge, Chair of the Ezra Consortium of the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives. Greetings were offered by Susan Malloy of the Sun Hill Foundation; Ms. Gloria Haffer, President of the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati; Jerry Somers, Past Chairperson of the Union of Reform Judaism; and Eli Evans, best-selling author and historian. Dr. Norman J. Cohen, Provost, introduced the keynote speaker, United States Senator Mike DeWine (R-Ohio).

Presenters evoked the memory of Aaron Levine, a dear friend to Dr. Marcus and executor of Dr. Marcus’ estate, who devoted the final years of his life to the Marcus Center building project, working tirelessly to ensure that the AJA achieved this milestone moment. The closing prayer delivered by Rabbi Harry Danziger, President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), was preceded by Dr. Zola’s tribute to Dr. Marcus on the realization of the grand vision put forth nearly 60 years ago by the esteemed scholar, historian, rabbi, and teacher.

The Malloy Education Building founders include the Sun Hill Foundation (the Malloy and Rabinowitz families), the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati, and the estate of Dr. Jacob Rader Marcus. Additional support was provided by the State of Ohio, The National Endowment for the Humanities, Winifred Barrows and Emil Barrows, z”l, the Becker Trust, the Carothers Family, Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York, Suzanne Dunbar, Richard and Lois England, Federated Department Stores, the Natalie Feld estate, Lori Fenner, the Forschheimer Foundation, the Frankel and Campbell families, the Gimprich Foundation, the Gus Waterman Herrman Estate, the King Trust, Nancy Levine and Aaron Levine, z”l, Jean and Bill Soman, the Spray family, and Dick Weiland.


Judges representing The American School & University Architectural Portfolio – widely regarded as the premier showcase celebrating the best in school design – have selected the Edwin A. Malloy Education Building as a 2005 “Outstanding Building.” A profile of the Marcus Center’s “Additions and Renovations” project will appear in the 2005 American School & University Architectural Portfolio, to be published in November. The additions and renovations project was led by a design team at Cincinnatibased Cole + Russell Architects (C+RA), which specializes in hospitality, housing, government, commercial, and education design. “Although there is a certain strength and clarity to the functional aspects of the plan, I believe the elements that make the building unique are its sculptural qualities and the relationship of the massing and materials to the site and campus as a whole,” said David S. Ross, AIA, C+RA Director of Design. “The facility clearly anchors the northern boundary of the property while expressing the transition from the Clifton Avenue ‘public facade’ to the pedestrian scaled campus interior.”

About the American Jewish Archives

“We propose to collect the records of this great Jewish center…we seek to understand how American Jews lived, how they worked, how they established their own cultural and religious community, how they interacted with this novel environment, creating a new Jewish life and at the same time helping to give birth to a new American world.” —Jacob Rader Marcus, 1896-1995

The AJA is the world’s largest catalogued collection of documentary evidence on the history of North American Jewry. Committed to preserving a documentary heritage of the religious, organizational, economic, cultural, personal, social, and family life of American Jewry, it contains over 15,000 linear feet of archives, manuscripts, nearprint materials, photographs, audio and video tapes, microfilm, and genealogical materials. Its treasures include some of the Jewish world’s most extraordinary collections: rabbinical papers (including those of Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, the founder of Reform Judaism in America), synagogue collections, and the historic papers of national and local organizations, including the Reform Movement’s arms. It is also home to the papers of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), which was formally established in August 1936 to strengthen Jewish political influence, ensure the survival of the Jewish people, and to spearhead the creation of the Jewish State. This collection’s sound recordings, correspondence, minutes, reports, articles, publications, research materials, cables, press releases, memos, artifacts, and photographs amassed from 1918 to 1982, include the famous “Reigner telegram” – a cable sent to several world leaders on August 29, 1942 by Gerhardt Reigner, a WJC official in Geneva – and considered by scholars to be the first official notification from Europe that Hitler had begun the “Final Solution.”


Imagine the Future: A World-Wide Mission in a New Home

Eli N. Evans, author of The Provincials: A Personal History of Jews in the South

Excerpts from the Address at the dedication of the Edwin A. Malloy Building, Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, HUCJIR/Cincinnati, June 5, 2005.

That this dedication is occurring during the 350th anniversary of the Jewish presence in America gives this day special resonance. The Edwin A. Malloy Education Building is being dedicated at a moment in history when our community is seeking to reinvigorate the American Jewish narrative through the lens of all that has happened to our nation since September 11. This nationwide celebration has been a time of renewal, a period of reflection and self-examination and new resolve for the future of the most free and successful Jewish community in history.

To plan a building is to consider the question of how an institution will face a post-9/11 future. Here, one can sense a profound aspiration reflected in its design. Every detail seeks to make the collection accessible to the visitor who comes in person to examine the documents but also welcomes the virtual visitor who will come via cyberspace into this new home. The spirit of a high tech state-of-the-art facility poses breath-taking challenges for the American Jewish Archives.

The first challenge is to thoroughly index and organize all of the collections, to digitize and scan every page so it can be retrieved universally. This idea is no longer fanciful; the process has been underway at the Archives and around the world for several years. Google, the renowned search engine, has made agreements to digitize the entire collections of the New York Public Library, Harvard, and Oxford University. The pace of change is staggering. The software flowing from these experiments will be available to the AJA to digitize, scan, and index all of the collection and invite scholars to discover the treasures of almost fifty years of work.

The next challenge is to reach out to partners to help tell the story, not just provide the documentation, but to make American Jewish history a part of the narrative of young people, a part of their heritage, a part of their Jewish identity. The yearlong celebration of the 350th has made great strides in correcting the imbalance in Jewish education in America, seeking to restore the American Jewish story to our curriculum, and thereby give back to our young their American Jewish legacy, and reconnect them to their roots.

The state of the art nature of the facility opens up exciting opportunities – first for HUC-JIR and its campuses, and then for a wider world. The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati International Learning Center will facilitate distant learning in interaction with other HUCJIR campuses in New York, Los Angeles, and Jerusalem, and, beyond that, will enable the AJA to be in dialogue with other great universities and communities all across the nation and the world. The AJA can begin with your natural constituency spread across the country – the more than 1700 rabbis in over 900 congregations in cities and town all across America, their lay leaders, and their schools.

Thus, the Malloy Education Building we dedicate signals a new vision and a wider purpose for the AJA. It must, in the 21st century, become not only a repository, but conceive of itself as no less than a pioneer in the technological revolution that can stimulate a renaissance of American Jewish consciousness, that can make of our community an electronic village that speaks to generations over time and distance, and to other faith communities around the world…

When Jacob Marcus was visiting the greatest collector of Judaica in New York just after World War II, and asked what he possessed of greatest significance to the Jews, Marcus was taken into his vaults where the collector pointed to an old yellowing document that had fallen to the floor. “That,” he said, “is the most important Jewish document that I own.” Marcus picked it up. It was an original copy of the Bill of Rights.

What a timely message for Americans and freedom loving people everywhere to hear – that freedom to worship, that bedrock value that shaped our nation by proclaiming that no one faith is more true than another – inspires a pluralism that provides the fertile ground for tolerance, which is necessary to build a safer and more secure world…

When Arthur Miller was once asked to sum up the meaning of his plays, he answered “they are about how we make of the world a home.” The American Jewish Archives now has a new home and in so doing, is ready to embrace a new mission to chronicle the story of how immigrants from Europe and other countries “made of America a home.”

This new mission will require originality, creativity, and a willingness to cooperate with other archives and collections such as the American Jewish Historical Society, and the Jewish Women’s Archives. It must link with the regional collections that represent the growing numbers of Jews in the South and in the West. It will require reaching out for partnership with various communities of artists, writers and storytellers, and a vision as large as Jacob Marcus’s original dream. But what a gift to give to our children! And what a gift to share with the world!



Dr. Fritz Bamberger Memorial Lecture

Presented at HUC-JIR/New York on November 23, 2004

JEWISH MUSEUMS OF THE WORLD: Observations on the Cultural Politics of Interpreting the Jewish Heritage

Dr. Grace Cohen Grossman, Senior Curator, HUC-JIR Skirball Cultural Center/Los Angeles

Jewish Museums of the World (Hugh Lauter Levin, 2004) surveys nearly three hundred Jewish museums literally across the globe. For each, I sought to provide some historical context in addition to the descriptive information. The book reflects my particular theoretical outlook that cultural politics shape cultural models. What I mean is that the message that the museum wants to convey gives evidence of the philosophy, identity, and values of those making the decisions – the choices of museum founders, administrators, board members, curators, and educators. In creating cultural models many questions are reflected – either explicitly or implicitly: What is the mission of the museum? Who is the audience? Is it relevant to the mission to form a collection? If so, who does the collecting, what is collected, and how is it documented? How are these artifacts, artworks, and archives interpreted through exhibitions, publications, and programs? How is the museum to be marketed? How is it to be fiscally maintained?

A favorite phrase of mine is that when we visit a museum we are viewing it through ‘museum-colored glasses.’ Objects collected for a museum, and thus separated from their original use and environment, become subject to new interpretations, including those pertaining to their history, form, and symbolic content. Similarly with works of fine art, the artist launches the art work into the world when it leaves the studio.

Although we might say that ‘objects speak,’ they do so in a symbolic language that has a particular meaning to the people who made and used those objects, or who created those works of fine art. Every subsequent encounter is an exercise in decoding by the visitor, which is influenced by the type of presentation chosen for display, and by the individual’s personal experience.

Examples of how museums reflect a particular cultural perspective are to be found all the time. For instance, countless articles have appeared about the re-opening of MOMA – with reviews from a number of critics reflecting on the architecture, on the art, and on the role of MOMA in New York’s cultural life and in a post-9/11 world.

Yet another report announced the launching by Yad Vashem in Jerusalem of an online data-base that includes biographical data, often photographs, and even some memoirs of over 3 million Holocaust victims. Yad Vashem is described by journalist Joseph Berger as a place of memory and memorial, but also of historical record. “The project is seen not only as a signal act of commemoration for Jews who often lost relatives who might have remembered them, but also as another refutation to those who have campaigned to deny the scope of the systematic slaughter of Europe’s Jews.” (New York Times, November 20, 2004).

With the Jewish cultural heritage – in the journey of Jews across the globe, and in the encounter and exchange with majority cultures in those communities – there are both internal and external factors that have impacted cultural politics and thus the cultural models. For Jewish museums, using ‘museumcolored glasses’ also means viewing through the lenses of the social, religious, political, even economic history of the Jewish people.

My perception is that for Jewish museums the cultural politics is all about maintaining Jewish identity – not necessarily in the same way – but about sustaining Jewish identity in a changing world. Jewish museums face the challenge of finding ‘models’ to represent why Judaism and Jewish culture and history matter. What is important to learn? What and for whom is this meaningful and relevant?

Though there were a few collectors of Jewish ceremonial objects as early as the 18th century, it was not until the late 19th century, with growing interest in the preservation, study, and exhibition of Jewish art and artifacts, that the first Jewish museums were established. This growth reflected a general trend at that time in Europe, where numerous ethnographic museums were formed.

In the period before World War I, there was intense activity in historic preservation and in the attempt to document the role artistic expression played in Jewish life. In the face of modernity and rapid changes in Jewish life, this effort was also a way to maintain knowledge about traditional Jewish customs and practice as a source for Jewish cultural renewal.

From the outset, the collections that were formed served the purposes of Jewish communal agendas – at times educational, at time political. The original motivations to collect these cultural artifacts varied. Sometimes it was salvage – as in Prague, where a major urban renewal project was underway at the turn of the twentieth century. In other instances scholarship was the impetus – as in Frankfurt where the first Society to study Jewish art was founded in 1897 by Heinrich Frauberger, a Catholic art historian (see page 26). Scholarship often had a political undercurrent – as at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., where in 1889 Cyrus Adler (1863-1940), a young, newly minted Ph.D. and volunteer curator, helped establish a department of comparative religion. Adler hoped that the “authentic” study of Judaism would counteract prejudice against Jews in American society.

In Eastern Europe, S. An-Sky (Shlomo Zainwil Rapoport, 1863-1920) understood that the realities of modernity and the mass emigration movement to America were already irrevocably altering shtetl life in the Pale of Settlement. Yet, he organized an expedition to document traditional folkways and collect artifacts to rescue the vestiges of a vanishing world. However, his incentive was not nostalgia about the past. Swept up in the nationalist impulses of the time, he optimistically believed that his work could help forge a Jewish cultural rebirth and foster a distinctive Jewish aesthetic. The An-Sky Collection was deposited in the State Ethnographic Museum in St. Petersburg (Leningrad), but until the collapse of the Soviet Union it was not acknowledged and was closeted in the storerooms.

Nationalism is what inspired Lithuanian born Boris Schatz (1866-1932), who became court sculptor to Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria, to lobby Theodore Herzl (18601904) to gain the support of the young Zionist movement for the creation of a school for Jewish arts and crafts in Jerusalem. Though Herzl succumbed to an untimely death in 1904, Schatz won the approval of the 1905 Zionist Congress and the Bezalel Art School was established in 1906.

Tracing the history of one collection dating from that era perhaps best illustrates the change in cultural politics and cultural models over time. In 1890, Baronne Charlotte Rothschild made a historic purchase of the Judaica collection of Isaac Strauss (18061888), a musician from a Jewish family in Strasbourg who was chef d’orchestre to Napoleon III. She acquired the collection, which numbered 149 objects, at the request of the Chief Rabbi of France and the Consistoire of French Jews, on the condition that the French government accept it as a gift. Subsequently, the objects were deposited in the Musée de Cluny in Paris and housed in a room named after her husband, Nathaniel de Rothschild.

The unique collection had been featured in two major exhibitions. The first was the Exposition Universelle at the Palais de Trocadéro in Paris in 1878, marking the very first time Jewish ceremonial art was in a public exhibition. The collection was later shown at the monumental Anglo-Jewish Historical Exhibition at the Royal Albert Hall in London in 1887. Though the focus was ostensibly antiquarian in nature, as a national enterprise, however, its underlying aim was to demonstrate Jewish patriotism and contribution to modern English history. The organizers ultimately decided to also highlight Jewish ceremonial art, no matter what the country of origin, and the Strauss collection was selected as representative of the finest of Jewish ritual objects.

When Baronne Charlotte acquired the Strauss Collection, there was not a single Jewish museum in Europe. At the time, many French Jews were assimilating, and though just four years later the trial of Captain Alfred Dreyfus (18591935) would rock the nation, it was a sign of great prestige that these treasures were to be displayed at the venerable Musée Cluny, France’s National Museum of the Middle Ages. Ironically, during the Nazi occupation, while the Rothschild family’s homes and personal collections were looted, the Strauss collection, by this time languishing in the museum’s storerooms, remained untouched.

After World War II, the collection was exhibited several times: in New York at The Jewish Museum in 1957; in Amsterdam at The Jewish Historical Museum in 1958; and included in two major exhibitions that traveled in Germany in the early 1960s. Selected objects were on display in Paris in 1968 and in 1979, as part of large thematic exhibitions, but otherwise the collection remained in storage. In 1981, the Strauss collection was presented in a monumental exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris, subsequently in Strasbourg and at The Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

Perhaps it was the success of this exhibition that was the impetus for the Ministry of Culture and the city of Paris to fund the development of a new Jewish museum in Paris. In 1999, the Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme (Museum of Jewish Art and History) opened in restored Hôtel de Saint Aignan, which dates to 1650 and was once one of the most palatial mansions in the city. The museum is located in the heart of the Marais district, where many Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe settled in the early 20th century, and which remains a Jewish neighborhood. Objects from the Strauss collection are once again on view in the new museum in an interpretive exhibition, along with objects acquired by the small Jewish Museum that had been in existence since 1948. Two other collections now in the museum’s holdings reflect the cultural politics of Jewish life in France: the Captain Alfred Dreyfus Archives, donated by his grandchildren, with over three thousand items – including manuscripts, letters, photographs, and family souvenirs – pertaining to the infamous trial, conviction, and imprisonment of Dreyfus; and thirty artworks from the Musée Nationaux Récuperation, loaned by the Pompidou Centre, that were looted by the Nazis and for which ownership has not been established. A site-specific installation by Christian Boltanski (b. 1944) relates the fate of the inhabitants of the Hôtel de Saint-Aignan in 1939, at a time when the once-magnificent building had been divided into small apartments and shops. This powerful work brings immediacy to the fate of individuals who perished in the Holocaust.

The study of Jewish art and the development of Jewish museums is integrally linked with Jewish experience in the twentieth century and has been indelibly marked by the changing circumstances and events which have altered the very course of Jewish life. Though only limited in growth elsewhere, Jewish art activities in Europe continued to thrive after World War I and heroically persisted even as the Nazis came to power. Nearly all of the Jewish museums in Europe were destroyed or plundered by the Nazis. A few scholars who managed to escape Germany forged a new era of professionalism in the United States and Israel. Several European collections were spared, having been taken or sent out of Europe or, in the case of museums in the Soviet Union, secreted away not to be seen until the fall of the communist regime.

In the decades following World War II, some Jewish museums were re-established in Europe, but in large measure the mantle of scholarship in the field of Jewish art became the responsibility of Jewish communities in Israel and the United States. In just a few short years, numerous museums were founded in the newly established State and Jewish art, ethnography, and folklore became accepted academic disciplines in Israeli universities. Important collections were formed reflecting the ingathering to Israel of refugees from Europe and Arab lands. Archaeology has been dubbed the national pastime of Israel, but even as the science of archaeology developed, with a sophisticated multi-disciplinary approach, controversial political and social issues still abound, and the role of the material legacy of antiquity remains tied to the national consciousness.

The Six-Day War in Israel in 1967 was a major turning point for Jewish communities worldwide; suddenly there was a tremendous upsurge of interest in Jewish life and culture. In the United States, this paralleled a general preoccupation with ethnicity, which emerged at the time and which continues to profoundly impact American life. There has been a virtual renaissance in the field of Jewish ceremonial art, with artists exploring and expressing their Jewish identity by creating contemporary artifacts. In 1977 when the Council of Jewish Museums was founded, there were only seven Jewish museums in the United States, two of which had been recently established; today there are scores of Jewish museums across the country. While there were literally no Holocaust museums in the United States prior to 1975, today there are hundreds of Holocaust memorials and museums.

The fact of Jewish dispersion to the four corners of the globe is recognized even in the traditional prayerbook, with settlement in some areas dating back to antiquity. Over time, changing demographics have resulted in some communities that are vital and growing, while others struggle to preserve the legacy of Jewish settlement where practically no Jews remain. The quest for preservation has led to the creation of Jewish museums around the world, often in restored synagogues.

Jewish museums are thriving in active Jewish communities, such as Melbourne and Sydney, Australia, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Montreal and Toronto, Canada. Some are in places where practically no Jews remain, such as in Cochin, India, where the historic Paradesi Synagogue built in 1568 by descendants of Spanish Jews is now listed as an Endangered Historic Site by the World Monuments Fund. The synagogue remains open and part of the renovation plan is a Cochin Jewish Heritage Center.

Remarkably, two former synagogues have been reclaimed in Shanghai, China. In 1997, the Chinese government ratified a proposal to establish the Jewish Refugee Memorial Hall of Shanghai at the Ohel Moishe Synagogue. Built in 1927 and named in memory of the leader of Shanghai’s Russian Jewish community, it was the center of religious life for Jewish refugees during World War II. Ohel Rachel, built in 1920 and endowed by Jacob Elias Sassoon in memory of his wife Rachel, was in use as a synagogue until the building was confiscated by the Communist government in 1952. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Secretary of State Madeline Albright visited Ohel Rachel in 1998, lending visibility to the efforts to completely restore the synagogue to Jewish hands. In 2002 Ohel Rachel was added to the watch list of the hundred most endangered sites by the World Monuments Fund.

Perhaps the most astonishing development in the world of Jewish museums is the return full-circle to Europe, where there has been an incredible revival of Jewish museums as well as the building of Holocaust memorials and museums. By the late 1980s Jewish museums had been established or reopened in the Netherlands, Austria, Greece, Italy, Spain, England, Ireland, Scandinavia, France, and Belgium. In Germany there are dozens of Jewish museums in towns without any Jewish residents or with only a small Jewish population, and most are staffed by museum professionals who are not of the Jewish faith. The Jewish Museum in Berlin, designed by Daniel Libeskind, has received attention around the world. Formerly in the Eastern sector, the Neue Synagog on Oranienburgerstrasse (the site of the original Berlin Jewish Museum) is once again a functioning synagogue and home to the Centrum Judaicum and its museum.

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 brought the rediscovery of several collections thought destroyed during World War II. In 1992, a landmark exhibition on the An-Sky Collection organized by the State Ethnographic Museum in St. Petersburg in collaboration with the Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam, finally provided the opportunity to study and catalog these treasures of Jewish folk-art. The famed Firkovitch Collection of Hebrew manuscripts in the once Imperial Public Library in St. Petersburg (where I personally was denied entry in 1977 when it was the Leningrad Library, even though I was a delegate with a prestigious international

museum group) was at last available once more for study. In 1996, in cooperation with Beth Hatefusoth in Tel Aviv, the collection of Maksymilian Goldstein (1880-1942), hidden in the Museum of Ethnography and Crafts in Lviv, Ukraine, was similarly studied and exhibited. An unknown collection of Judaica housed at the Historical Treasures Museum of the Ukraine in Kiev was documented beginning in 1989 by cataloguers from the Centre for Jewish Art of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and since 1994 sixty of the objects have been included in the museum’s permanent exhibition.

From the political perspective, perhaps the most stunning announcement is the plan to establish a Jewish Museum in Moscow which was made by none other than Russian President Vladimir Putin at a public Hanukkah lighting ceremony in December 2003. The museum is to be built in the Melnikoff Garage, a former bus depot donated by the Russian government – and the exhibitions are being developed by a team from Moscow working with a U.S. design firm.

Today, Jewish museums house distinguished collections that range widely in size and scope. New exhibitions addressing a broad spectrum of topics are constantly in the works. Publications accompanying these presentations are an important source of documentation and vital to further the base of knowledge in the field. Jewish museums serve diverse audiences welcoming visitors of all ages and religious and ethnic backgrounds to discover the totality and variety of the Jewish cultural heritage. Moreover, technological advances make virtual museum visits accessible across the globe. In the new millenium, a century after the first Jewish museums were established, far from being merely guardians of the treasures of the Jewish past, Jewish museums strive to be in the forefront of efforts to sustain and nurture a meaningful, responsible, relevant Jewish present and future.


The 2005 Dr. Fritz Bamberger Memorial Lecture
“History on Trial: My Day in Court With a Holocaust Denier”
Deborah E. Lipstadt, Director of the Rabbi Donald A. Tam Institute for Jewish Studies and Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.


Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Reception: 7:00 pm Lecture: 7:30 pm
Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion
One West 4th Street (between Broadway and Mercer), New York
Admission: Free Photo ID required for entrance

RSVP to Leah Kaplan at 212-824-2293 or

The Dr. Fritz Bamberger Memorial Lecture, honoring the memory of the noted German-Jewish scholar and specialist in Jewish intellectual history who served as Assistant to the President and Professor of Jewish Intellectual History at HUC-JIR/NY, was established by his children, Phylis and Michael Bamberger, a former Vice Chair of the New York Board of Overseers, and Gabrielle Bamberger.



Important Jewish manuscripts, relics, early printed books, antiquities, ceremonial objects, and other Judaica numbering 6,174 items have been purchased from Germany for the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati.” So read the momentous announcement in the New York Times on March 4, 1926. The landmark acquisition established the nascent museum that was founded at the College in 1913 as having the largest collection of its type among the Jewish museums that had been formed in the two decades prior to World War I. HUC librarian Adolph Oko, who negotiated the transaction, was quoted as saying that this purchase marked the fact that “the center of Jewish culture had crossed the sea,” a statement whose bravado would sadly seem only too prescient within just another twenty years.

The holdings purchased from Salli Kirschstein (1869-1935), a successful Berlin textile merchant, also included the seminal collection of Heinrich Frauberger (18451920). Frauberger, a Catholic art historian and director of the Düsseldorf Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Applied Art) was the moving force behind the formation of the Gesellschaft zur Erforschung Jüdischer Kunstdenkmäler (Society for the Research of Jewish Art Objects) in Frankfurt-am-Main in 1901. At the time, Frauberger had already begun to collect Jewish art and the items in his collection reveal his understandable interest in their design and decorative motifs. In 1908, the year he sold his collection to Kirschstein, Frauberger curated the first exhibition in Germany of Jewish ceremonial objects at the Düsseldorf Kunstgewerbemuseum. At the time, Kirschstein unsuccessfully tried to initiate the creation of a Society of Friends for a Jewish Museum in Berlin. A Jewish museum was later established in Frankfurt in 1922, but not until 1933 was a Jewish museum founded in Berlin, the very same month as the Nazis came to power.

In addition to the influence of Heinrich Frauberger and the Frankfurt group, Salli Kirschstein’s approach to collecting Jewish art, ritual objects, and historical artifacts also reflected the work of Max Grünwald (1871-1953) who had issued a call in Hamburg in 1896 to establish a Museum für jüdische Volkskunde. Grünwald’s field was ethnography, and he sought to establish Jewish folklore studies as a means for Jews to represent what they shared in common with other peoples. A Jewish museum was subsequently established in Hamburg prior to World War I.

Without community support, Salli Kirschstein was determined to form a private museum in his home on Nickolassee in Berlin. He did so with a two-fold goal in mind: to focus on the cultural heritage of Jews as the vital link between the past, present, and future of the Jewish people; and to counteract anti-Semitism by diminishing the long held fallacies about Jews. He further cited the absence of any representation of Jewish life in the Industrial Arts and Crafts and Ethnology Museum in Berlin as his motivation. There, he observed, “in its all-embracing exhibition, in which all the nations of the world, from the most primitive to the most culturally advanced are represented, the Jews alone are absent!” (translation by the late Professor Joseph Gutmann, one-time curator of the HUC Union Museum, from unpublished Kirschstein correspondence). Kirschstein aimed to educate Jews and non-Jews alike, through the material evidence of Jewish culture. He collected broadly, including in his collection ceremonial objects, fine arts, manuscripts, and rare books, as well as historic documents and even autograph letters of important Jewish figures. His encyclopedic approach would later serve as a paradigm for other Jewish museums.

It is not known what motivated Kirschstein to sell his collection to Hebrew Union College, but likely it was due to the economic pressures of Weimar Germany. After the sale, Kirschstein immediately started a second collection, which was sold at auction in 1932 at the Gallery Hugo Helbing in Munich.

In recognition of a major gift from Jack and Audrey Skirball, the Union Museum was renamed the Skirball Museum when the collection was moved from Cincinnati to Los Angeles in 1972. In 1996, the museum opened in greatly expanded quarters in the new Skirball Cultural Center. The Skirball Museum in Cincinnati maintains a core exhibition, An Eternal People: The Jewish Experience, with art and artifacts from the HUC-JIR collection, where numerous Kirschstein items are displayed. Items from the Kirschstein Collection, including megillothaggadot and other manuscripts and rare books, and the historic autograph letters, are housed in the Klau Library in Cincinnati. Art and artifacts from the Kirschstein Collection are also on view at times in temporary exhibitions at the HUC-JIR Museum at the New York School.

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HUC-JIR’s Museums: Laboratories for Learning

Jean Bloch Rosensaft

From its very inception as a modern rabbinical seminary in the late 19th century, the College-Institute recognized that Jewish material culture was an essential resource for the liberal study of Judaism and the professional training of clergy and scholars. Learning at this Reform seminary was predicated on the principle of Wissenschaft des Judentums, the 19th century German approach to scholarship that stressed a scientific orientation to the study of Judaism. This approach applied objective scholarly methods to Jewish history and thought, and provided the intellectual approach for collection efforts. Indeed, the impetus to collect, preserve, and study Jewish religious or ethnographic heritage was the result of the emancipation and enlightenment of 19th century European Jewry that was transplanted to these American shores.

Thus, the development of library, art, and artifact collections were part and parcel of the earliest decades of the College-Institute’s existence – intended as research resources for faculty and students. The Library was established in 1875, with the acquisition of artifacts as well as books. The Union Museum on the Cincinnati campus, established by the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods in 1913, was one of the first formally established Jewish museums in the United States, with the goals of preserving and providing a survey of Jewish cultural history.

By the 1920’s, through the acquisition of several major private collections (see page 26) and donations by individuals, the College-Institute’s museum and library collections comprised objects dating from the Renaissance to the current day: Jewish ceremonial objects, Jewish graphic art, tapestries, ceramics, carvings, illuminated manuscripts and Esther scrolls, and, in the words of Adolph S. Oko, the librarian who shaped the College-Institute’s collections, “specimens of virtually all artistic, decorative or folkloristic objects for the synagogue and home that Jews have created in various countries Through this effort, the American scholar may gain a picture of the cultural life of the Jew and attempt its study.” Oko asserted that these collections provided the “external proof” for an evaluation of Jewish culture as the development of the Jewish people in dynamic interaction with the host cultures in which they resided, contributed, and simultaneously created their own culture. “The whole panorama of Jewish cultural history is spread out before the student – the objects used by the Jew in his religious worship, his achievements as artist and craftsman, as musician and architect, writer and philosopher…”

The fruit of all of these efforts can be seen today in the vitality of HUC-JIR’s network of museums. As informal environments for teaching and learning they provide stimulating contexts for our students’ and faculty’s exploration of Jewish history and values. Exhibitions demonstrate the significant role of the arts in promoting Jewish continuity in contemporary life. Visual artists lecture on art as midrash interpreting text and discuss hiddur mitzvah through the creation of works of contemporary ritual art. Students are offered tangible model arts programs to provide their future congregations and communities with spiritual and cultural enrichment. The museums extend HUCJIR’s outreach to the community and offer visitors of all faiths a deeper understanding of Jewish heritage, including public, parochial, and Jewish schools that participate in group tours and teacher workshops fostering diversity education.

In the cautionary words of eminent historian Dr. Arthur Hertzberg, the artifacts of Judaism are not “mummified in cases, bereft of their original, authentic purpose.” HUC-JIR’s museums promote Jewish practice and continuity, advance understanding of Jewish history and culture, and illuminate Judaism’s relationship to the host cultures in which we dwell. They instill Jewish values of remembrance, tolerance and social justice and provide a forum for contemporary artists seeking to express Jewish spirituality, experience, and identity. By creating partnerships with other Jewish museums, synagogue museums, and secular university museums, HUC-JIR’s museums raise HUC-JIR’s visibility far and wide.

The Skirball Museum in Cincinnati presents the cultural heritage of the Jewish people as conveyed through thematic galleries: Immigration, Cincinnati Jewry, Archaeology, Torah, Jewish Festivals and Life Cycles, the Holocaust, and Israel. The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education has amplified the Museum’s educational outreach through an interactive, multi-media environmental exhibition, “Mapping Our Tears,” which highlights eyewitness testimonies of World War II and Holocaust survivors, liberators, and refugees, and temporary exhibitions promoting tolerance education. In addition, the Museum’s Archaeology Center offers a hands-on learning and research facility for the study of Archaeology and Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern history and culture, featuring artifacts of the 2nd to 1st millennia BCE discovered at HUC-JIR’s excavations in Israel.

The Skirball Museum of Biblical Archaeology/Jerusalem presents the research and the archaeological expeditions of the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology and tells the story of ancient Laish/Dan, Gezer, and Aroer, based on the history of these cities and the reconstruction of the daily life of their inhabitants. Artifacts, photographs, models, and plans illustrate the fortifications, burial customs, and cult practices of antiquity.

The Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles preserves and exhibits HUC-JIR’s collection of over 25,000 art objects in its permanent exhibition, “Vision and Values,” which 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.

The HUC-JIR/Los Angeles campus periodically presents exhibitions in the Merkaz Limud, including this past summer’s “Avoda: Objects of the Spirit, Ceremonial Art of Tobi Kahn.”

The HUC-JIR Museum in New York is nationally recognized for the presentation of contemporary art exploring Jewish identity and themes: seminal shows for emerging artists, landmark exhibitions establishing new directions for contemporary ritual, group shows reflecting new interpretations of Biblical text, cutting-edge exhibitions illuminating Jewish history, career surveys of celebrated artists, exhibitions promoting Israeli-North American cultural exchange, and presentations of significant private collections advancing the definition of Jewish art in the 21st century. The HUCJIR Museum also serves as a vital source of traveling exhibitions for the Reform Movement’s synagogue museums and cultural institutions throughout North America.




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 Sundays, 10am-2pm: Nov. 13, Dec. 11, Jan. 8, 22
Information/Guided Tours: (212) 824-2205
Admission: Free; photo ID required for entrance.

The Forgotten Photographs: The Work of Paul Goldman, 1943-1961
Through January 22, 2006
Rare images from the collection of Spencer M. Partrich, documenting Eretz-Israel during the finalyears of the British Mandate and Israel’s struggle for survival during its first thirteen years. Goldman’s privileged access – as a British Army member and later as a journalist befriended by Israeli leaders – offered a front-row perspective of personal moments at a time of sweeping, historic change.

Waldsee 1944
Through January 22, 2006
An exhibition in memory of the annihilation of Hungarian Jewry during the summer of 1944, when Jews deported to their deaths at Auschwitz were required to write decep- tive postcards from “Waldsee” to their families, reassuring them that all was well. International artists have created their own visual symbolism, in the form of the postcard, to commemorate the Hungarian Holocaust.

Carol Hamoy: PsalmSong
Through January 22, 2006
A meditation environment inspired by the ten Psalms deemed by Rabbi Nachman to promote healing, and by Kabbalah’s mystical illumination of the connections between the divine and human worlds. Hamoy’s evocative installation, dedicated to the healing professions, offers sanctuary and reflection.

Debra Band: The Song of Songs – The Honeybee in the Garden
Through January 22, 2006
A contemporary illuminated manuscript illustrating the Song of Solomon’s lyrical love poetry, expressing sensual yearning, the beauty of nature and the land, and an allegorical interpretation of the relationship between bride (the people of Israel) and groom (God).

Living in the Moment: Contemporary Artists Celebrate Jewish Time
Unique and limited edition works of innovative Jewish ceremonial art, created by internationally recognized artists, are for sale, 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., 12 – 5 pm
Information: (513) 487-3055/8
Guided tours upon request. Admission: Free

Lilith: The Voice of Jewish Women
November 3 – 30, 2005
Documents the impact of feminist Jewish journalism during the pivotal years 1976-2001 through the magazine’s fine art illustrations, original manuscripts, iconic photographs, and memorabilia supporting Jewish women’s roles in the world.

Mapping Our Tears

The Archaeology Center at the Skirball Museum

Skirball Museum of Biblical Archaeology/Jerusalem
13 King David Street, Jerusalem, Israel 94101
Hours: Sun., Tues., Thurs., 10 am – 4 pm
Guided group tours upon advance request.
Information: (02) 620-3333 Admission: Free


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

Sacred Spaces: Historic Houses Of Worship In The City Of Angels
Through November 20, 2005
Los Angeles-based photographer Robert Berger’s study of historic churches, synagogues, mosques, and other houses of worship built between 1850 and 1952, reflecting the religious diversity of Los Angeles and the need for preservation.

Max Liebermann: From Realism to Impressionism
Through January 29, 2006
This landmark retrospective is the first major American museum exhibition to present the remarkable art and life of German painter Max Liebermann (1847-1935), the premier artist in Berlin from the mid-1880s until the Nazis seized power in 1933. More than 70 paintings and works on paper have been brought together from collections around the world, spanning the stylistic and thematic phases of Liebermann’s prolific career.

From Haven to Home: 350 Years of Jewish Life in America
November 10, 2005 – February 12, 2006
Two hundred treasures of Judaica Americana, from the collection of the Library of Congress, HUC-JIR’s American Jewish Archives, and other repositories, examine the American Jewish experience in the United States through the prisms of “haven” and “home.”

Visions and Values: Jewish Life from Antiquity to America




A Vision of Holiness: The Future of Reform Judaism

Richard N. Levy, URJ Press, 2005

Where is Reform Judaism in the 21st century? This was the question before the Central Conference of American Rabbis at its historic 1999 convention in Pittsburgh as it voted on a Statement of Principles. A Vision of Holiness is an explication of these Pittsburgh Principles, the fourth in a series of comprehensive statements that the Reform rabbinate has adopted throughout its history, as seen through the eyes of the rabbi who guided the process and shaped the document. Rabbi Levy challenges readers to reflect on the nature of their religious lives and deepen their relationship with God, their connection to Torah, and their commitment to the destiny of the Jewish people and the Jewish state. This excerpt illustrates the book’s illumination of the manner in which Jews can envision their purpose in the world and the challenges for Reform Judaism’s ongoing engagement with the question of being commanded.

From Autonomy to Mitzvah

A command is a call – it involves a voice different from one’s own. Autonomy suggests that the individual adopts or rejects a practice or belief based on a solely internal process of ratiocination. Mitzvah suggests that the individual is in conversation with another: a text, or the God who issued the mitzvah in the first place, or members of the people Israel who have been listening since Sinai. This is why the 1999 Pittsburgh Principles removed the language of autonomy and choice and substituted the idea of dialogue. There is no system, moral or otherwise, that can cause any body of Reform Jews to “reject” a mitzvah for another Reform Jew. The Pittsburgh Principles asserts that each Reform Jew has the right, indeed, the obligation, to enter into dialogue with the mitzvot, because as Jews we have been involved in that dialogue since Sinai. It is the right of every Reform Jew to emerge from that dialogue affirming a mitzvah, declaring one is not yet ready to accept it, or even rejecting it. But the dialogue must precede the decision, or it is not really a decision.

Dialogue takes place through study. Sometimes study is lishmah, “for its own sake,” to understand a text from the inside out, to understand its history, its grammatical formations, its place in the Jewish canon, or to seek the answer to a particular question. Study is a lifelong commitment for Jews. We are enjoined to teach our children, or to provide study opportunities for them (Deuteronomy 6:7). We are obligated to hear the Torah read in public and to study it ourselves, to hear it call to us, and then to read the text of the call, pore over it, involve ourselves in it, and figure out the answer to three questions: “What did this call mean when it was first uttered?” “What does this call mean to us, in this generation or in this place?” and “What is this call saying to me?”

The traditional understanding of the manner in which the Torah was given to Moses reinforces this dialogic sense of its authorship. Rabbi Akiba and Rabbi Ishmael debated whether God intended every word to be interpreted on its own, including the generally untranslated grammatical particles, or whether God used the human idiom to deliver the Torah so that human beings would see it as a part of their own language. Underlying their two positions was a common agreement: God intended for human beings to find their own meanings within the Torah. As noted earlier, the Torah could not be dictated in forty days and nights unless God gave Moses a summary – the “chapter headings” (rashei p’rakim) – of what God wanted to communicate. What Moses wrote down was the Torah Shebichtav, “the Written Torah,” within which God planted the seeds of the Torah Sheb’al Peh, “the Oral Torah,” the fulfillment, the completion of the written text. Inherent in the written text we possess is the voice of God calling us to look, to notice the grammatical oddities, the seeming contradictions, the unusual words. God calls us to search for the answers, not only in our lexicons, but in other texts, rabbinic texts, the texts of our own time, and our own experiences. Preceding the Torah b’rachah that learning be sweet for us is a blessing praising God for commanding us laasok b’divrei Torah, to immerse ourselves – to soak ourselves – in the words of Torah. Torah study is a response to the questions, the demands, and the calls that God has written into the text and that its human transmitters preserved for us.

Pirkei Avot, “The Ethics of Our Ancestors” (1:6), advises: Asei l’cha rav uk’nei l’cha chaver, “Make a teacher for yourself and acquire a study companion for yourself.” The rav, the teacher, is the one who helps us discover what Torah meant in its own time and in ours. While the study companion is helpful in those questions too, the chaver is essential in the third: “What is the call of this Torah passage saying to me?” For if study is to be a dialogue, it is important that it not be a theoretical dialogue between a book and me, or a dialogue in my head between God and me. The dialogue needs to be personified, by a teacher who inspires us to reach deeply into and beyond the text, or by a chaver who helps us let the call of Torah reach deeply inside ourselves. Torah study calls us to mitzvot, the Pittsburgh Principles tells us, which it here describes as “the means by which we make our lives holy.”

The previous section of this book explored mitzvot as a way to bring us into the presence of God. In this section, mitzvot are the means of bringing Torah into our presence, of infusing our lives with holiness and transforming the ordinary parts of our lives into holiness. We have examined the word “holiness” – kodesh and k’dushah in Hebrew – before. We have seen that like the ground on which Moses encountered the Burning Bush, holiness is an experience of God’s presence. To see Torah study as a dialogue means that we are studying the text God delivered at Sinai not only for its immediate hearers to soak up (“What did this call mean when it was first uttered?”), or only for our people today to soak up (“What does it mean in our generation?”), but also for me to soak up: “What is it saying to me?” No matter how many mitzvot we bring into our lives, no matter how many “traditional” prayers and practices we incorporate, what characterizes a Reform approach to Torah is this insistence that Torah calls to each individual and that the individual responds out of the uniqueness of each one of our lives. It is not an autonomous choice, but a call from outside and a response from inside. Yet it is also a call from inside each of us:

“What should I do in this situation? How can I make Shabbat a more profound part of my life? How can this verse of Torah that seems to be calling to me help inform my life this week, today?” The call is not mediated through the Reform Movement, nor from the halachah as interpreted by an authoritative committee, but directly from the Torah itself as we study it alone or, preferably, with a chaver or a Shabbat morning study group. The published guides of the Reform Movement certainly rank among our teachers and even our chaverim; they are among the sources of the Oral Torah through which we listen to the voice from Sinai, but they are not a “Reform halachah,” a set of rules that all Reform Jews must follow. The call for an individual response is unique to Reform Judaism; it refutes the notion that Reform is “Conservative light” or even heavy, as the Conservative Movement understands its relationship to Torah in a much more authoritarian manner. It has little in common with the language and symbolism of the Reconstructionist Movement, which is opposed to the notion of a God who calls through Torah or any other means.

We need not fear, if we feel called to do mitzvot similar to those observed by Jews in other movements, that we are betraying Reform. It is the individual nature of the call, not that to which we are called, that marks our response a Reform Jewish one.

Rabbi Richard N. Levy
Rabbi Richard N. Levy is Director of the Rabbinical School and Lecturer in Judaic Studies at HUC-JIR/ Los Angeles, and was ordained in 1964 in Cincinnati. As President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (1997-99), he was instrumental in shepherding passage of the Statement of Principles for Reform Judaism, the “Pittsburgh Principles,” passed overwhelmingly at the May 1999 CCAR Convention in Pittsburgh, PA. Rabbi Levy served as Executive Director of the Los Angeles Hillel Council, a regional center of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life (19751999), and previously served as Director of Hillel at UCLA (1968-1975). He served as Assistant Rabbi at Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles, CA (196668) and Rabbi at Temple Beth Am in Yorktown Heights, NY (1965-66). Since 1974 he has been a Lecturer in Judaic Studies at HUC-JIR/Los Angeles, teaching in the fields of liturgy, rabbinic literature, the campus rabbinate, and Jewish sources for communal practice. His publications include On Wings of Awe, a High Holy Day prayerbook published by B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundations; On Wings of Freedom, a Haggadah (Ktav and B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundations); and On Wings of Light, a Shabbat and Festival prayerbook (Hillel). The recipient of the Doctor of Divinity degree from HUC-JIR in 1989, he was awarded the Covenant Award for Distinguished Educators by the Covenant Foundation in 1994. Rabbi Levy graduated Harvard College in 1959, where he was managing editor of the Harvard Crimson.

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Judaism for Two: A Spiritual Guide for Strengthening and Celebrating Your Loving Relationship

Rabbi Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer and Rabbi Nancy H. WienerJewish Lights, 2005

More than just calendar commitments, the Jewish holidays carry with them a view of what is important in life, a set of assumptions that can challenge and deepen one’s thinking about relationships. Drawing from ancient and contemporary texts, Jewish tradition, and personal stories, Rabbi Fuchs-Kreimer and Rabbi Wiener provide creative exercises, rituals, and guided discussions that help couples make connections to tradition, community, and each other. Renewed meaning in holy celebrations and opportunities for spiritual growth are explored in the context of the Jewish holiday cycle, including: Yom Kippur – Forgiving and Growing; Purim—Playing, Laughing and Taking Risks; Pesach – Coming Home, Finding Freedom; Sukkot—Blessing Bounty, Facing Impermanence; Shabbat— Pausing to Bless What Is, and, in this excerpt, Hanukkah.

Telling Our Story, Dedicating Our Space: Hanukkah

Every relationship begins with hope. Two people take the risk of becoming involved, becoming vulnerable. When they make a long-term commitment to one another, they are taking a leap of faith: faith that they can grow and change together, faith in a future they cannot foresee. Like lighting a lamp in the darkest moments of winter, kindling the flame of commitment and rekindling it each year are signs of the miracles, wonders, and power of faith that can sustain you in an unpredictable and often very dark world. In a long-term relationship, nothing makes any sense without hope. And each forward step rekindles faith in the possibility of something new. The Jewish festival of lights, which began as a rededication of the sanctuary in Jerusalem, carries messages for us as couples: messages about the telling of our stories, about hope and identity, and about how we dedicate our own homes as sanctuaries even as we remind ourselves to reach out beyond them with our gifts.

Telling Our Stories and Finding New Meanings

We all tell stories about our lives—our lives as individuals, our lives as families, our lives as a people. The events we include in the narrative and the meanings we give to them change over time, as we change, as our audience changes, as our understanding of ourselves changes, and as the world changes. Each time something significant occurs, we either work it comfortably into the narrative-aswe’ve-told-it, fitting it into our existing sense of meaning, or find a way to tell the entire narrative in a new way to accommodate the new information. Either way, the process involves reinterpreting old information, drawing on new information, and creating a new focus and locus for the larger story.

Hanukkah’s story has been told in different ways by Jews of different eras. The earliest version celebrated the rededication of the Temple after a military victory. The Talmudic Rabbis focused on a story about a single cruse of oil that miraculously burned for eight days.

Modern Zionists emphasized the issue of national liberation in a secular song that asserts, “Now all of Israel must join together and redeem itself.”

The significant recasting of Hanukkah can be a guide to us, inspiring us to think more openly about our own stories. It reminds us that we can change the story we tell ourselves about our past. For couples, Hanukkah can be a time to consider the story we tell about our relationship, how it has changed, and how we might tell it differently. Ascribing new meanings to past events helps us live more comfortably with our past and our present, and enables us to look toward the future with hope. Hanukkah’s changing narratives encourage us to reconsider our own old stories in light of our new insights.

From soon after you met, you began to tell your story as a couple. At first it focused on how and when you met and the early stages of your relationship. As time passed, you had more moments to retell, and the significance of some of those early “key” moments changed. Think back to how you talked about your relationship to new acquaintances shortly after you met. Compare that to the way you talk about those early days now: the adjectives you use about each other; the way you describe the trajectory of your relationship; the meaning you give to your meeting and deciding to make a life together. With each retelling, with the change of even one detail, you are redefining or re-creating your relationship. With each change there is loss, but also the potential for gaining new meaning. Each change is an implicit commitment to going on; each becomes a new narrative and sometimes a new celebration. Despite the radical differences among the Hanukkah stories, many Jews have come to undertand this holiday and its rituals best by fusing some or all of them together. They become a single, layered story, with some details diminishing in importance and others being emphasized and embellished, depending on the desires and the circumstances of the teller. It is the same for us and our personal stories. As our understanding of ourselves and our relationships develops, our stories emphasize different details and meanings, often becoming a single layered story with its own focus or message.

Even the way we tell ourselves about Hanukkah can change over time. When their first child was born, Jean and Mike agreed to make their family’s celebration of Hanukkah one of the highlights of the year. For Jean it was a way to transform their home, its sights and smells, into a festive space. For Mike, who had been raised Methodist, it was a way to recreate, albeit with a different focus, the joy of the season he had known while growing up. Now, their children grown, Jean and Mike are facing their first Hanukkah on their own. They have no satisfactory way to explain, even to themselves, how and why they will celebrate. It’s easy enough to take the old menorah from the cabinet and light the candles, but they really want to figure out what meaning it has for them, as individuals and as a couple, at this stage of their life.

On a holiday such as Hanukkah, which has pervasive associations with children, finding meaningful ways to celebrate as adults with or without children can be a challenge. But among Judaism’s more interesting teachings is one that says that finding a novel interpretation or teaching within the tradition is a sign of an agile mind and a committed heart. Whatever Mike and Jean end up doing, their new practice will become part of their ongoing life story.

The story of hope connected to Hanukkah can become part of our own stories, sustaining our spirits. The rabbinic version of Hanukkah focuses on a miracle. But when did the miracle occur? Was it the eighth night when “miracle oil” was still burning, contrary to expectation? Or was it the first night, when the weary Jews, seeing the devastation of the Temple, lacking any assurances concerning the future, lit the lamp anyway, hoping it would suffice?

For Marty and Emily, this story and its message of hope held a special meaning. Marty was subject to bouts of depression. All would be going well and then, with no apparent catalyst, his spirits would plummet. The first time this happened Emily was scared, and she too felt hopeless, helpless. With professional help, they both learned how to manage his depressions. During the dark periods, Marty felt Emily’s constancy as a powerful and positive influence. Emily and Marty recognized that while he wasn’t interested in seeing other people, she would need to continue with her social life, and that was OK. Each Hanukkah Marty and Emily stand quietly in the darkness together before lighting the first candle, contemplating what it means to trust in the dark, to begin the lightmaking, even without guarantees. After their time in darkness, one or the other purposefully lights the candles, reminding them of their recurring experiences of hope finally breaking through.

Rabbi Nancy H. Wiener
Rabbi Nancy H. Wiener is the Clinical Director of the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Center for Pastoral Counseling and Adjunct Full Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling at HUC-JIR/New York, where she was ordained in 1990 and received the Doctor of Ministry in Pastoral Counseling degree in 1994. She serves as the rabbi of the Pound Ridge Jewish Community in Pound Ridge, NY and holds a Masters degree in Jewish History from Columbia University. Her other publications include Beyond Breaking the Glass: A Spiritual Guide to Your Jewish Wedding (CCAR Press) and Meeting at the Well: A Jewish Spiritual Guide to Being Engaged, co-authored with Rabbi Daniel Judson (URJ Press); noted articles include “Counseling Same-Sex Couples as They Sanctify Their Love,” in New Menorah Journal, Spring 2000; “Of Women and Mirrors,” in Elyse Goldstein, ed., A Women’s Torah Commentary: 54 Women Rabbis on the Weekly Torah Portions, (Jewish Lights); “A Practical Theology of Presence, in Elwell, Alpert, Idelson, eds., Lesbian Rabbis: The First Generation (Rutgers); and “Jewish Marriage: From Legal Transaction to Spiritual Transition,” CCAR Journal, Fall 2001.




Spring 2005 Fall 2005

Rabbi Yehoyada Amir, Ph.D., edDerekh ha’Ruach [The Path of the Spirit] Vol. 18 and 19 (Mandel Institute of Jewish Studies at the Hebrew University and the Van Leer Institute, Jerusalem). The two volumes focus on studies in Schweid’s philosophy, reflections on the cultural significance of the academic research in Jewish Thought, Jewish National Thought, and studies in Modern Jewish Thought.

Dr. Gerald BubisGuide Yourself Accordingly (Lightening Source). A memoir by the founder of HUC-JIR’s School of Jewish Communal Service describing the launching and development of this program, Bubis’s educational and personal philosophy, and assessments regarding Jewish life and professional perspectives after 55 years in the field and in academia. Proceeds from the book support HUC-JIR’s School of Jewish Communal Service Scholarship Fund.

Dr. Lawrence A. Hoffman, ed.My People’s Prayer Book: Welcoming the Night: Minchah and Ma’ariv, Afternoon and Evening Prayer, Vol. 9 (Jewish Lights Publishing). This volume explores the human experience of twilight and darkness and the traditions, rituals, and metaphors that constitute the spiritual response to Judaism (see page 36).

Rabbi Charles A. Kroloff, Reform Judaism, A Jewish Way of Life (Ktav). A brief description of Reform Judaism, Reform Jewish beliefs, and blessings. Intended for new synagogue members, the unaffiliated, and non-Jews, it also includes some texts for study, private prayers, songs, and psalms, and a listing of organizations of Reform Judaism.

Rabbi Richard LevyA Vision of Holiness: The Future of Reform Judaism (URJ Press). An examination of the final text of the Pittsburgh Principles and ways in which Jews can envision their purpose in the world that sets forth challenges for Reform Judaism’s ongoing engagement with the question of being commanded (see page 30).

Rabbi David W. NelsonJudaism, Physics and God: Searching for Sacred Metaphors in a Post-Einstein World (Jewish Lights Publishing). This book offers a unique approach to the religion-science dialogue and explores in detail how religious metaphors might be enhanced and challenged by invoking the basic language of modern physics.

Dr. Racelle Weiman, ed.The Journal of Ecumenical Studies (Temple University). A special issue marking the twentieth anniversary of The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust, 19411945, by David S. Wyman, presenting the first comprehensive analysis of the book’s impact and legacy.

Rabbi Nancy Wiener and Rabbi Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer, Judaism for Two (Jewish Lights Publishing). A practical guidebook that helps couples understand their lives together in the context of the themes of Jewish holidays (see page 32).

Books may be purchased at the

HUC-JIR College Bookstore – (513) 221-4651,
by contacting the publisher directly, or by visiting our Faculty, Administration, HUC Press, and HUC Annual web pages at

Recent Faculty Articles of Note

Rabbi Yehoyada Amir, Ph.D., “The Concept of Exile as a Model for Dealing with the Holocaust” in Steven Katz, ed., The Impact of the Holocaust on Jewish Theology (NY: New York University Press, 2005), pp. 226-247.

Dr. Gerald Bubis, “Canon and Icons” in Journal of Jewish Communal Service (2005).

Dr. Sarah Bunin Benor, “Talmid Chachams and Tsedeykeses: Language, Learnedness, and Masculinity Among Orthodox Jews” in Jewish Social Studies 11/1.

Dr. Sarah Bunin Benor, Review of Mystics, Mavericks and Merrymakers: An Intimate Journey among Hasidic Girls by Stephanie Wellen Levine in American Jewish History 92/1.

Dr. Susan Einbinder, “A Proper Diet: Medicine and History in Crescas Caylar’s Esther (1327)” in Speculum 80.2 (2005): 437-463.

Dr. Susan Einbinder, Review of Renewing the Past, Reconfiguring Jewish Culture: From alAndalus to the Haskalah by Ross Brann and Adam Sutcliffe, eds., in SMART (Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Texts) 12/1 (Spring 2005): 87-93.

Dr. Reuven Firestone, “A Problem with Monotheism: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in Dialogue and Dissent” in Bradford Hinze, ed., Heirs of Abraham: The Future of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian Relations (NY: Orbis, 2005).

Dr. Reuven Firestone, “Jewish-Muslim Relations” in Nicholas de Lange and Miri Freud-Kandel, eds., Modern Judaism: An Oxford Guide (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2005).

Dr. Alyssa Gray, “The Power Conferred by Distance from Power: Redaction and Meaning in b. A.Z. 10a-11a” in Jeffrey L. Rubenstein, ed., Creation and Composition: The Contribution of the Bavli Redactors (Stammaim) to the Aggada (Tuebingen: Mohr Siebeck, [forthcoming, 2005]): 26-72.

Dr. Barry Kogan, “Jewish Souls and Other Souls” in Michael Walzer et al, ed., The Jewish Political Tradition Vol. 2, Membership (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003).

Dr. Barry Kogan, “Construction, Discovery, and Critique in Jewish Ecological Ethics” in H. Tirosh-Samuelson, ed., Judaism and Ecology: Created World and Revealed Word (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003).

Dr. Barry Kogan, “Judah Halevi and His Use of Philosophy in the Kuzari” in The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Jewish Philosophy (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003).

Dr. Barry Kogan, “Al-Ghazali and Halevi on Philosophy and the Philosophers” in John Inglis, ed., Medieval Philosophy and the Classical Tradition in Islam, Judaism, and Christianity (Richmond, Surrey, UK: Curzon, 2002).

Dr. Lawrence A. Hoffman, “Illness and Inculturation,” opening address to Yale Divinity School, Colloquium (2005).

Dr. Lawrence A. Hoffman, “Post-Colonial Liturgy in the Land of the Sick,” keynote address delivered at the CCAR, CCAR Journal (2005).

Dr. Adam Kamesar, “Hilary of Poitiers, Judeo-Christianity, and the Origins of the LXX: A Translation of Tractatus super Psalmos 2.2-3 with Introduction and Commentary” in Vigiliae Christianae 59 (2005): 264-285.

Dr. Adam Kamesar, “San Gerolamo, la valu-tazione stilistica dei profeti maggiori, ed i genera dicendi” in Adamantius 11 (2005): 179-183.

Dr. David E. Kaufman, “Re-envisioning the Synagogue: Challenges and Opportunities” and “The Synagogue as a Mediating Institution” in The National Center for Jewish Policy Studies, Boston (2005).

Dr. Mark Kligman, “Diversity and Uniqueness: An Introduction to Sephardic Liturgical Music” in Zion Zohan, ed., Sephardic & Mizrahi Jewry: From the Golden Age of Spain to Modern Times (NY: New York University Press, 2005): 259-284.

Dr. Mark Kligman, “Recent Trends in New American Jewish Music” in Dana Kaplan, ed., Cambridge Reader in Jewish Studies (Cambridge University Press, 2005).

Dr. Jonathan Krasner, “Jewish Education and the History of American Jewish Education, Part I” in Journal of Jewish Education 77 (2005), 121-177.

Rabbi Dalia Sara Marx, “New Paths in Contemporary Reform Liturgy in Israel and in the Diaspora” [Hebrew] in Sabath-Beit- Halachmi Ofer, eds., El-Halev: Tefilot Uverachot le’et Metso (Jerusalem: Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism and Hebrew Union College): 65-74.

Dr. Michael A. Meyer, “Heinrich Zirndorf (1829-1893): Writer, Rabbi, Historian” in Marion Kaplan and Beate Meyer, eds., Jüdische Welten. Juden in Deutschland vom 18. Jahrhundert bis in die Gegenwart [Festschrift für Monika Richarz] (Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag, 2005): 207-224.

Dr. Bruce Phillips, “American Judaism in the 21st Century” in Dana Kaplan, ed. The Cambridge Companion to American Judaism (Fall 2005).

Dr. Bruce Phillips, “Catholic (and Protestant) Israel: The Permutations of Denominational Differences and Identities in Mixed Families” in Eli Lederhendler, ed., Studies in Contemporary Jewry Annual, Harman Institute on Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University (Fall/Winter 2005).

Dr. Bruce Phillips, “‘Half-Jewish’: The Jewish Identity of Mixed Parentage Jewish Adults” in Contemporary Jewry, The Journal of the Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry (Fall 2005).

Dr. Richard S. Sarason, “Midrash in Liturgy” in Jacob Neusner and Alan J. Avery-Peck, eds., Encyclopedia of Midrash: Biblical Interpretation in Formative Judaism (2 vols) (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2004) 1:463-492.

Dr. Richard S. Sarason, Republication of “A History of the Mishnaic Law of Agriculture: Tractate Demai. Commentary” (Brill, 1979) in Jacob Neusner, ed., A History of the Mishnaic Law of Agriculture (3 vols.) (Leiden: E.J. Brill). Dr. Diane Tickton Schuster and Dr. Lisa D. Grant, “Adult Jewish Learning: What Do We Know? What Do We Need to Know?” in Journal of Jewish Education, Vol. 71 (Fall 2005). Dr. Diane Tickton Schuster, “Adult Jewish Learners: Entering the Conversation” in Journal of Jewish Education, Vol. 71 (Fall 2005). S. David Sperling, “Monotheism and Ancient Israelite Religion” in Daniel Snell ed., A Companion to the Ancient Near East (Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing, 2005).

Dr. Wendy Zierler, “In Search of a Feminist Interpretation of the Akedah” in Nashim (2005).


In Memoriam

Professor Abraham Aaroni, esteemed member of the faculty for more than three decades and a pioneer in the teaching of Hebrew language and literature, who authored numerous books and served as President of the Association of Chairmen of Foreign Languages for the City of New York.

James H. Scheuer, distinguished New York Congressman for thirteen terms, who advocated for social justice and government’s role in improving American lives; beloved father of Elizabeth Scheuer, father-in-law of Peter A. Joseph, and brother of Richard Scheuer, Chair Emeritus of the Board of Governors, whose family has been committed to HUC-JIR’s growth as the professional development center for future Jewish leaders.

John Slade, devoted honorary alumnus whose dedication to Jewish values, education, communal service, remembrance of the Holocaust, and the State of Israel found expression through his generous support for HUC-JIR.

Dr. Paul M. Steinberg, the distinguished, charismatic, and beloved leader of HUC- JIR, where he served as Vice President, rabbi, teacher, mentor, and Dean for 50 years with dedication, passion, and skill. He guided students’ professional and spiritual growth, strengthened the faculty by appointing the leading scholars of Jewish studies, and left physical memorials by his leadership of the construction of HUC- JIR’s New York and Jerusalem campuses. His memory is an enduring source of inspiration. See “Dr. Paul M. Steinberg: 50 Years at the College-Institute” in The Chronicle 2005/Issue 65 at

Dr. Herbert C. Zafren, distinguished Director Emeritus of Libraries at HUC- JIR, Professor Emeritus of Jewish Bibliography, Director of HUC-JIR’s American Jewish Periodical Center, and founding President of the Association of Jewish Libraries, who was renowned for his commitment to Jewish learning, scholarship, and cultural preservation.

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Minhag Ami – My People’s Prayer Book

Jean Bloch Rosensaft

“The siddur [prayerbook] is both the best and the least known book in the Jewish library,” says Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, Barbara and Stephen Friedman Professor of Liturgy, Worship, and Ritual at HUC-JIR/New York. “Throughout history, this has been the only Jewish book that the average person owned, carried, and regularly read. My teacher, Professor Henry Slonimsky, z”l, used to say ‘The siddur is the soul of the Jew.’”

Hoffman explains that the prayer book is “our Jewish diary of the centuries, a collection of prayers composed by generations of those who came before us, as they endeavored to express the meaning of their lives and their relationship with God. If you go back in Jewish history and know the story of the prayers, you can learn what it was like to be a Jew in every age.”

His aspiration to teach about the siddur developed into the concept for a cross denominational commentary on the traditional prayer book that could be both scholarly and accessible to a lay audience. His proposal captivated the imagination of Stuart Matlins, publisher of Jewish Lights and a member of HUC-JIR’s Board of Governors.

That first volume of My People’s Prayer Book, published in 1997, has developed over the past eight years into a series of 9 books, edited by Hoffman and published by Jewish Lights. Several volumes are already into their sixth printing and plans have begun to complete the series and to publish the siddur in its entirety. “Over 50,000 copies of these volumes have been purchased to date,” notes Matlins. “This tells us something profoundly important about the state of the American Jewish community. Never before in the history of our people have we had such a large group of secularly well-educated people with outstanding learning skills, who are now turning those skills into learning about Judaism.” The series is a staple for many congregations’ libraries and synagogue-wide study groups, in addition to individual learners.

My People’s Prayer Book annotates the breadth of traditional daily and Shabbat prayers with modern commentaries composed by scholars representing the full spectrum of contemporary Judaism, including feminist, halakhic, Talmudic, linguistic, biblical, Hassidic, mystical, and historical perspectives. “I contacted scholars who are worshippers as well,” Hoffman notes. “The contributors come with a diversity of expertise, so that you hear many voices. Orthodox scholars like Daniel Landes (in Israel) and Marc Brettler (from Brandeis) converse across the page with Larry Kushner (in San Francisco) and several members of our own faculty, including our President, David Ellenson. The series is exemplary in modeling a pluralism that transcends the increasing polarization of the Jewish community in our day. This is sacred work that will have a lasting significance and will be read generations from now.”

In his introduction to Volume 1, The Sh‘ma and Its Blessings, Hoffman describes the development of the siddur liturgy “First, mostly ad hoc oral improvisation (kavanah) around a structural core (keva) by a rabbinic elite that drew plentifully on language of the Bible; then growing regulation, as standardization became the norm; then poetry (called piyyutim) by verbal artists who did with words what Byzantine builders of churches were doing with mosaic stone. There were no books yet; everything depended on oral performance.” Hoffman likens the early development of the siddur to jazz artistry: “What the melody line is to jazz, the thematic development is to rabbinic prayer; what the improvised notes are to jazz, equally improvised words were to prayer.”

In fact, according to Hoffman, the siddur is not really a book at all. “It just looks like a book because it has covers. There was no prayer “book” at all until the 9th century, when Seder Rav Amram established his Babylonian Jewish practice as the norm worldwide. Even then, until the invention of printing, the average person didn’t have anything written to pray from. But that didn’t mean that they didn’t pray.” Rather than a book, Hoffman looks upon the siddur as “a script for a sacred act, a sacred drama in which we all have our lines. Prayer is about taking the lines of our people and making them our own, thereby taking ownership of Judaism.” Matlins concurs, “This is our script for our conversation with God, when we can’t find our own words.”

Hoffman describes the impact of moveable type in the 15th and 16th centuries, which effectively standardized the liturgy, doing away with centuries of localisms and creative experimentation. The many new prayer books composed by Reform rabbis in 19th-century Germany depended on the printing press also, but represented a return to the tradition of liturgical innovation, based on deep-seated learning of the entire Jewish heritage.

The siddur text in the series is the most commonly used Ashkenazi version, but commentaries frequently cite Sefardi (and other) alternatives. “This is a study prayer book, designed to enable readers to better appreciate the prayers that they customarily encounter but know little about,” explains Hoffman. “My People’s Prayer Book seeks to satisfy those who know there is wisdom and solace in Jewish prayer but who find the prayer book inaccessible or even baffling.”

Dr. Joel Hoffman, Lecturer on Hebrew at HUC-JIR/New York and scholar of theoretical linguistics, was in charge of the translation and the commentary on the translation. His translation and notes attempt as much as possible to give the English reader the same experience that the Hebrew reader would have had reading the Hebrew when it was written – whether biblical prayers, classic rabbinic liturgy, or medieval poetry.

“We try to reproduce a tone and register, similar to the original text, formal but not archaic,” he describes. “We use prose or poetry, depending on the Hebrew. Where the Hebrew uses obscure words, we try to do the same; where it uses common idiom, we try to use equally common idiom. Parallel structure and other literary devices found in the Hebrew are replicated in the English. We have not doctored the text to make it more palatable for modem consciousness. Blatant sexisms are retained, for instance, wherever we think the author intended them. We rely on the commentaries to demonstrate how we moderns have dealt with them.” Dr. Marc Brettler, Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible at Brandeis University, actively participated in the collaborative process of the translations.

Each volume begins with introductory essays that demonstrate the gamut of scholarly perspectives, explore issues facing Jews today, and offer contemporary responses to those issues. In the second volume, The Amidah, for example, Rabbi Daniel Landes writes about the theology of petition. In the seventh volume, Shabbat At Home, Dr. Michael Chernick explains the seudah shlishit. The following volume, Kabbalat Shabbat in the Synagogue, includes Sharon Koren’s masterful introduction to Kabbalah and Wendy Zierler’s feminist literary responses to the mishnah on childbirth and lighting candles. Chernick, Koren and Zierler all serve on the HUC-JIR faculty in New York.

HUC-JIR’s faculty is heavily represented in the contributors and essayists for these volumes, showcasing the scholarship as well as the pluralism of the faculty. “The collegial relationship among the HUC-JIR faculty makes a big difference,” acknowledges Zierler. “We hear about each other’s interests and research, which spark opportunities for collaborative projects. I taught a class for Larry Hoffman’s alumni study group in which I discussed the mishnah that women die in childbirth for three sins, one being the failure to light the Shabbat candles. We studied rabbinic statements that candle lighting originates with Eve’s sin, which extinguished the light of the world and obligates Jewish women to rekindle that light. The class looked at the traditional sources and how two Jewish women writers of the 18th and 20th centuries, respectively, rewrote the sources. Hoffman then asked me to contribute an article on this subject.”

Nothing like My People’s Prayer Book exists anywhere. There are a number of classical works on the history of liturgy. The bestknown work, by Ismar Elbogen in 1913 in Germany, “is an extraordinary work that has been translated into Hebrew and English, but is somewhat technical, outdated, and focused primarily on the author’s interest in the history of liturgy,” says Hoffman. “The 21st-century reader has other interests – ranging from each prayer’s halakhic background and the philosophy behind the halakhah to new feminist approaches.”

Hoffman notes that this is not a book that you read from cover to cover. “This is a book where you fall in love with a certain page of the siddur, and follow the commentaries as you please. The commentators take a common story but refer to it through their own perspective, with historical background and liturgical analyses. If commentators agree in their analyses of a certain prayer passage, it reinforces a common understanding, but reflects different reasoning.”

These volumes are a staple for HUC-JIR’s rabbinical, cantorial, and education students throughout their studies, and a lifelong resource for their careers as teachers of congregations. Furthermore, the faculty’s research for their commentaries and essays filters into their classroom teaching and mentorship. Students have contributed, as well, through their work for Dr. Joel Hoffman’s elective course on the theory and practice of translating Hebrew.

My People’s Prayer Book is not simply academic data, however,” adds Hoffman. “These books are fonts of knowledge and wisdom, recognizing that knowledge becomes wisdom when text meets life.”

He is hard at work on the next volumes in the series, one on the morning and Musaf prayers for Shabbat and another on the Birkat Hamazon and blessings for special occasions. Publisher Matlins says, “Of the 250 books that Jewish Lights has published to date, the My People’s Prayer Book series is one of the most important. It is a direct result of my relationship with HUC-JIR and its faculty.”

“The siddur is the lived text of the Jewish soul – we live in it and we pray in it,” says Hoffman. “My People’s Prayer Book represents HUC-JIR’s mission at its finest through the scholarship of the faculty contributors across the disciplines, and the passion of publisher Stuart Matlins, a devoted member of the Board of Governors.”

My People’s Prayer Book

The 9-volume series
(to date)

  1. The Sh’ma and Its Blessings
  2. The Amidah
  3. P’Sukei D’Zimrah (Morning Psalms)
  4. Seder K’riat Hatorah (The Torah Service)
  5. Birkhot Hashachar (Morning Blessings)
  6. Tachanun and Concluding Prayers
  7. Shabbat at Home
  8. Kabbalat Shabbat (Welcoming Shabbat in the Synagogue)
  9. Welcoming the Night: Minchah and Ma’ariv (Afternoon and Evening Prayer)

Contributors to My People’s Prayer Book:

Marc Brettler, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible, Brandeis University

Michael Chernick, Ph.D., Deutsch Family Professor of Jewish Jurisprudence and Social Justic, HUC-JIR

Elliot N. Dorff, Ph.D., Rector; Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, University of Judaism

Susan L. Einbinder, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Hebrew Literature, HUC-JIR

David Ellenson, Ph.D., President; Grancell Professor of Jewish Religious Thought, HUC-JIR

Marcia Falk, Ph.D., poet, translator, Judaic scholar, and author

Ellen Frankel, Ph.D., CEO, Editor-in-Chief; The Jewish Publication Society

Alyssa Gray, Ph.D., J.D., Assistant Professor of Codes and Responsa Literature, HUC-JIR

Judith Hauptman, Ph.D., Rabbi Alstat Professor of Talmud, Jewish Theological Seminary

Joel M. Hoffman, Ph.D., Lecturer on Hebrew, HUC-JIR

Lawrence A. Hoffman, Ph.D., Barbara and Stephen Friedman Professor of Liturgy, Worship, and Ritual, HUC-JIR

Yoel H. Kahn, Ph.D., Visiting Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley

Reuven Kimelman, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Rabbinic Literature, Brandeis University

Sharon Koren, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Medieval Jewish Culture, HUC-JIR/New York

Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, spiritual leader and author of works on personal and institutional spiritual renewal

Rabbi Daniel Landes, Director, Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, Jerusalem

Ruth Langer, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies, Boston College

Judith Plaskow, Ph.D., Professor of Religious Studies, Manhattan College

Nehemia Polen, Ph.D., Associate Dean of Students; Associate Professor of Jewish Thought, Hebrew College

Wendy I. Zierler, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Modern Jewish Literature and Feminist Studies, HUC-JIR



Graduation Address Excerpts 2005

Los Angeles, May 16, 2005, Peachy and Mark LevyCivic Leaders and Philanthropists; and recipients of the 2005 American Distinguished Service Award

Peachy Levy

As the years have gone on, Mark and I have embraced tradition more fully, becoming more learned, and have been enriched beyond all measure. We live in a time when it is possible to experience this transformation, this journey within our own Reform Movement…

…[a] life-changing experience happened to me on this journey. I took a class in embroidery so that I could make a challah cover that was suitable to grace our Shabbat table. It was time to retire what one of our children had made in religious school. So I learned the art of embroidery, made a challah cover, made more for other people.

And so it went until one day a rabbi asked me if I would like to make Torah mantles for his synagogue. That was the beginning of what has become a rewarding career, in a spiritual sense. I needed to express my passion for Judaism and, particularly, for Jewish values. Judaic textiles became a fulfilling vehicle. I could make my own visual midrashim and, at the same time, enhance the religious experience for other Jews, hiddur mitzvah.

Could I have imagined that I would ever see new rabbis being ordained and blessed under a chuppah that I had created especially for that occasion? And to see my Torah mantle grace the entrance of the Skirball Museum with the theme of today’s parshat hashavua — Adonai’s proclamation to Moses about the Sabbath of the land every seven years and the jubilee year, to proclaim liberty throughout the land…

I feel that God needs me in this partnership of Covenant. Each of us hears God in different ways, and some of us at different times of our lives.

What matters is how we respond, how we interact with other human beings, how we work to repair this gift of creation. Rabbi Harold Schulweis says it best: “God is not in me, not in you, but between us.” The Bal Shem Tov once said to his followers: “The object of the whole Torah is that a person should become a Torah.” That is a lifetime of work for each of us…

Mark Levy

Peachy and I are collectors of Jewish ritual objects, antique and contemporary, from as many times and as many communities as we can gather. Menorahs, spice boxes, tzedakah boxes, holders for megillot and mezuzuot, some silver, some brass, some made of olive wood from the ancient trees in Eretz-Israel, ritual objects marked Jerusalem.

All of these objects are or have been silent witnesses to times of happiness and horror, to times of victory and defeat. They are historic documents. They are the prisms through which we view Jewish life. These objects are all monuments, things that remind, markers that by their survival commemorate an action, a period, an event, a way of life, a people, all of us.

Commemoration honors a memory without which there is no continuity, no history, no survival. The creation of these objects is an act of imagination, addressed to a tradition and to a community. We are that community. We are all survivors of that tradition. We are all part of our collection.

Each object holds and validates memory, and that’s what we are about. These objects are klei kodesh, vessels of holiness, as we are klei kodesh, vessels who carry on Jewish life. Monuments, survival, commemoration, memory, a collection.

Yehuda Amichai wrote: “Spice boxes with little flags on top and fragrant generations of sacrifice and happy menorahs and weepy menorahs and oil lamps and long, metal hands to point out everything that is no more. Kiddush cups in a row on a shelf like soccer trophies. All is gold of grief, silver of longing, copper of calamity, a collection of our ritual objects, the gift of our aged nation. And whoever hears this will assume a delicate smile on his lips like well-wrought filigree.” So collecting is the metaphor for who we are. We treasure all of the collections in our lives. We treasure family, friends, communities, names. We treasure the repositories of our collections: our synagogues, our home, the centers of our communities, our museums, our Jewish institutions…

As you enter into the world of Jewish life as professionals, I believe that you will become the recipients of many of these collective memories, these collections of people, places, objects. Take them into your heart. Build them into your lives. Become collectors. Become care-takers. Become curators of klei kodesh.


New York, May 19, 2005
Ruth W. Messinger,
 President and Executive Director, American Jewish World Service;and recipient of the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.

…This is a time of great social and political turmoil, a moment when people are losing their rights and our fundamental constitutional protections are under attack. It is a time when more than 30 million Americans go to bed hungry every night, when around the world six million children under 5 die each year – 17,000 a day – from entirely preventable diseases like malaria, diarrhea, and pneumonia.

It is a time when, in Africa, life expectancy in 30 countries is less than 50 years, 25 million people are HIV/AIDS infected, and only 4% have access to life-saving drugs. It is a time when 28,000 young people have been kidnapped in northern Uganda, a time when there is a genocide occurring in Sudan, where at least 400,000 Moslem subsistence farmers have lost their lives from government-sponsored violence and displacement…

It is a time when we need those who can speak as prophets – as you must – but need, even more, those who will go further. We need those who will take action on behalf of the issues they believe in and those who will work to build activist prophetic communities. We need you to create an activist, global, social justice Judaism for the 21st century. We need leaders who will educate themselves and others; share visions of a better, more just future; show the way by idea and by example; and convey a sense of hope and possibility…

We need people who will work on all levels. It is important to be involved on a personal level – to feed the hungry, work directly with the poor, be of service in the world. But service only is not enough. People must also learn and address the root causes of injustice, plan for larger social action, demand new policies and appropriations, and embrace advocacy. We should be doing this work – both the service and the advocacy – as individuals and in schools, on campuses and in congregations, in the many different communities of which we are members. This will happen when the leaders you are and the leaders you will become help others learn the ways they can be involved and remind them of the values that say they must be…

You are also, in our tradition, moral leaders, prophets and the builders of prophetic community. Too often, in too many jobs, this last role is neglected or diminished, surrounded by political anxiety, smothered by others who would find it easier not to be urged to action. It is because this is a risk, that I have urged you today, as you celebrate this great milestone, to be moral leaders, to have what you do most fully reflect who you are and what you believe.

I urge you to heed the observation of Rabbi Heschel that “living is not a private affair of the individual, it is what we do with God’s time, what we do with God’s world.” Accept the challenge to do the most you can with your time in this world, constructing lives of commitment where acts of loving kindness and acts of political courage are woven into the fabric of your days…

New York, May 19, 2005
Dr. David Weiss-Halivni, Lucius N. Littauer Professor of Classical Jewish Civilization, Columbia University; and recipient of the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.

What frightens me now is the sense of becoming a Pariah again. Being a Pariah runs the danger of having been cut off from normal human bonds that tie people together, that are responsible for the natural empathy that one human being feels for another. We are now judged by different criterion, watched, scrutinized, and judged more severely. We are not given the benefit of the doubt. We are found guilty before all the evidence is in and evaluated, before all sides are heard and examined.

Upon mentioning the word Jew to a class of intellectuals in France or even Scandinavia, one has the feeling that it evokes a sense of distance, a certain detachment almost as if the Jew belongs to another class of human beings. It is not true, as some have argued, that this is anti-Israel and not anti-Semitic. Those who harbor anti-Semitic tendencies judge Israel more harshly. How else to explain the one-sidedness of never finding justifications for Israel’s dilemma, unwillingness to acknowledge the Jewish people’s historical right and attachment to the land, the willingness to create new, Jewish refugees on the pretext of helping other refugees…

It is not the coming of a new Shoah that I fear, but how easily anti-Israel sentiment may become anti-Jewish sentiment. Inevitably the word “Israel” may become synonymous with the word “Jewish.” Long- harbored hatred directed against the State of Israel will unconsciously be transferred to hatred for all Jews. I once read a psychological study concerning the Nazi’s effectiveness in stamping out the Jews as vermin. It made killing Jews easier. Hatred of Zionists may make it easier to kill Jews, just as it was easier to kill Jews in the past thinking of them not as human beings but as crucifiers. Transference is a very powerful instrument of hatred.

Before the actual Shoah took place, the enlightened Jewish population adopted an optimistic approach based upon the assumption of historical progress and denying that past history was a reliable indication of future history. History has proven wrong their views of historical events and ongoing unresolved and seemingly unresolvable religious conflict, whether conscious or unconscious. The human race is slow to change and our shared historical memory remains engraved upon our psyches, whether consciously or unconsciously. The question before us now is: are we going to relive the past, both distant and not so distant, or have we grown beyond that? I am more on the pessimistic side and would be happy to be proven wrong. In the meantime, I believe it is my duty to warn and to alarm, and your duty to listen and evaluate.


Cincinnati, June 5,2005 Dr. Bernard Heller Prize
Dr. Richard C. Levin, Frederick William Beinecke Professor of Economics and President of Yale University

Those of you who will take on responsibility for a congregation, will have an opportunity to create, by your example and leadership, a culture of concern and commitment. Your congregations may not have the scale or financial means to transform an entire city, but there is more than enough good work to be done…

I want to challenge you, as teachers and citizens, to do your part to improve the quality of civic discourse. In particular, I want to urge you to resist two disturbing trends in contemporary political discourse: oversimplification and polarization. The strength of our democracy and the wisdom of our collective choices will depend on the efforts we make to reverse these trends…

As students of Talmud, you know that the discourse of our tradition is anything but over-simplified. It is richly textured, relentlessly logical, nuanced. Layer builds upon layer, interpretation upon interpretation. I’m not suggesting that our political debates should become Talmudic in their richness and complexity, only that you are well prepared to point out over-simplification to your students and congregants, and to encourage them to demand more than sound bites from public officials…

Insist on an end to oversimplification and polarization. Write letters, and encourage your students and congregants to do the same. Join and lead organizations that advocate for your beliefs, participate in local politics, and, above all, use the critical faculties you have developed in the course of your studies to raise the level of discussion. We can make little progress in a democratic society without intelligent public discussion of the issues.

In one of his last letters to John Adams, Jefferson, the eternal optimist, wrote: “I shall not die without a hope that light and liberty are on steady advance.” Adams, by contrast, was skeptical. He believed that tyranny was as likely to emerge from free elections as from a seizure of power. He saw an educated and informed public as critical to the survival of liberal democracy. He would not be surprised by the current impoverishment of political discourse, but his response would be clear. He would appeal to education as the solution.

We are fortunate that, on the question of whether liberal democracy would survive, Jefferson has had the better of the argument for these past two hundred years, at home and around the world. It is our responsibility as educated citizens, your responsibility, to keep it that way.

When you leave here, steeped in learning, with a well-developed capacity for independent thought, and deep commitments, never forget your obligations to serve responsibly those around you, to engage in civic life, to demand reasoned public discourse from others, and to set a standard with your own. The continued flowering of the freedoms we so vigorously exercise in this country depends upon your engagement and your vigilance. Lead on.


Los Angeles, May 15, 2005
Rabbi Isaiah Zeldin, Senior Rabbi, Stephen S. Wise Temple, Los Angeles; Founding Dean, HUC-JIR/Los Angeles

I think that you are entering the finest calling a human being can enter. There is more opportunity in the rabbinate to benefit people than in any other calling or profession on the face of this earth. You affect more people, you influence more lives, and you find fulfillment in whatever you do. But you should know that learning isn’t confined to the classroom. Learning is gained through experience…

A rabbi is really the inheritor of two traditions at the same time, the tradition of Moses and the tradition of Aaron. You will be pastors and ministers, but you should also be descendants of the prophets, the conscience of the people.

But should there be a conflict in your mind, you should know that what we study is the Torah of Moses, and not the Torah of Aaron. The priority of the rabbi is to be the conscience of the people and to be the follower of the prophets. But there are two kinds of prophets. There is the prophet who rebukes the people, like Amos and the first Isaiah. And there is the second Isaiah, the prophet who comforts the people. And I, in my 60 years in the rabbinate, prefer the second Isaiah, because our people have gone through hell…

You must be lovers of Israel. It is easy to become an Israel basher. There are too many others that are Israel bashers. But be a defender of Israel. We live in dangerous times. And peace is not yet secure…

A final message to the graduating class is about memory. I say that to you, because you should remember one thing after all of you become successful: that the institution that made you successful was this very Hebrew Union College. When I was the dean, I used to go around to congregations. And I would say to them, do you know what the Hebrew Union College is? It is the one institution that does what no single congregation can do by itself. It trains its future leaders. There are synagogues in places where there are no longer any Jews. But in every place where there is a rabbinic seminary, Jews continue to exist because there is a seminary that trains its leaders.

So I want to leave you with my 11th commandment: Do not forget who made you what you will become.


New York, May 22, 2005
Roger E. Joseph Prize
Jan EgelandUnder-Secretary-General of Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, United Nations

Jan Egeland, Under-Secretary-General of Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, United Nations, was awarded the 2005 Roger E. Joseph Prize for his work on behalf of human rights and peace for the past 25 years. Egeland was among the first to sound the alarm on the present situation in the Darfur region of Sudan. In accepting the Joseph Prize, Egeland said, “We must always speak the truth about the reasons why so many suffer, and how matters can be put right. We must never avoid speaking the truth because we are afraid of offending people in power.” Egeland donated the proceeds of the Prize to field operations carried out by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.


Cincinnati, June 4, 2005
Rabbi David Saperstein
Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Washington, D.C.

My father loved the Hebrew essays of Ahad Ha’am, and especially his remarkable essay on Moses in which he notes that we know only three things about the adult Moses before God found him worthy to be called, at the burning bush, to the leadership of the Children of Israel.

First, after going to see the sufferings of his kinfolk

And Moses intervenes to save the life of a

Jew being beaten by an Egyptian taskmaster; Then,

Second, he intervenes to stop a conflict between a Jew and a Jew, calling the wrong-doer to task.

And after fleeing Egypt, he goes to the well at Midian, where:

In a matter of injustice not involving Jews at all, he intervenes to protect the daughters of Jethro from the Midianite shepherds.

It was in this willingness to act decisively on behalf of the oppressed, the victim, the vulnerable, Jew and non-Jew alike, that Moses was found worthy of the call to leadership.

So, too, the challenges that you will face in your rabbinate. Like Moses, you will have leadership responsibilities for a community that faces crises in all three of these categories…

On all these, we know we must act before it is too late. One day, perhaps, we will be fortunate enough to have children or grandchildren who will with puzzled expressions ask: did you not know? Or, may God help us: is it that you did not care? What would Amos and Isaiah say to the Jewish people at such a time? What will you say? Will you challenge your congregants to act with what Dr. King called “the fierce urgency of now,” warning us that “over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of countless civilizations is the most pathetic of all epitaphs: the words: Too late!”

Can you make a difference by what you do in your local synagogues and organizations, in your personal actions? Yes you can! Yet, I have found repeatedly that, rabbis underestimate the cumulative impact of synagogue efforts across the nation and underestimate the respect, access, and influence of rabbis among political leaders…

Indeed it is through that cumulative impact of millions of committed people, who you can help inspire, that you will build the Jewish world of tomorrow just as you build the world of justice and hope. For this is the only true immortality of your rabbinate: to keep burning brightly for all generations to come a way of life that has endured in grandeur through all the trauma that history has hurled at our people – the Jews, whose unique tale winds though all the recorded history of humankind, imbued with the incandescent belief that God’s people will be an instrument for the redemption of humanity, that we are not the prisoners of a bitter and unremitting past, but can and will be the shapers of a better and more hopeful future for the Jewish people and all humankind.

May that be the journey of your lives and the blessing of your rabbinates.