Today our Board of Governors came together to consider and vote on several strategic recommendations to advance our beloved institution into the future. This vote was a first step toward transformational change for HUC-JIR and the Reform Movement – as we are bound together in the recognition that Judaism must honor its history and tradition while adapting to fundamental changes in the world around us.
Our Governors engaged in the session with the understanding that the decisions we were considering were painful and difficult for all, but with a common, expressed commitment to treat each other with respect, embracing our differences in order to reach thoughtful, constructive conclusions.
After a two-year process of engagement, listening, analysis, and deliberation, the Board voted by a more than two-thirds majority to sunset our Cincinnati rabbinical program by the end of Academic Year 2026.
As we all look to the future, it is important to remember that HUC-JIR is one institution. Based on today’s vote we will restructure our residential rabbinical program in Los Angeles and New York, sunset our residential rabbinical education in Cincinnati, and move forward with the design of a new and innovative academically rigorous, low-residency rabbinical and cantorial program that will open new options for those called to serve as rabbis and cantors.
Given the intensity of deeply held feelings on all sides of this historic vote, we will take time to navigate the right path forward – sensitively and with our common commitment to the education of future generations of Jewish leaders guiding our way. We will also be mindful that we are all stewards, charged with ensuring the next generations of Reform Jewish leaders are trained in an environment that prepares them to guide our movement in a rapidly changing world. The outcome of today’s vote does not diminish the challenges ahead. We recognize that we need to evolve our programs and institution to keep pace with the clear imperatives for spiritual, educational, and financial renewal.
This vote was only one step on a much longer journey to a vibrant and dynamic future for our institution. The Administration intends to share our next steps in advancing the elements of our plan – including our commitment to developing an academically rigorous low-residency rabbinical and cantorial program to serve all of Jewish North America, and reimagining our Cincinnati campus to strengthen the impact of our precious academic resources at the Klau Library, American Jewish Archives, and Skirball Museum. This program will require a full, detailed plan of action, with likely implementation over a period of years. We will move quickly to share additional detail of these initiatives over the coming weeks.
These changes will be evolutionary and comprehensive, and will certainly be new for many of us. They ask something of us all – that together, we will lean even deeper into constructive, mutually respectful dialogue about the changing landscape of North American Jewish life… the role of Jewish leadership in our communities… and how to build a strong and vibrant future for our beloved College-Institute.
Thank you for your continued support and commitment to HUC-JIR.
Sue Neuman Hochberg, Chair, Board of Governors
David Edelson, Chair-Elect, Board of Governors
Andrew Rehfeld, Ph.D., President