HUC-JIR Announces Promotion of Three Faculty Members

May 6, 2024

Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is delighted to announce promotions for three of its faculty members. Effective July 1, 2024, Dr. AJ Berkovitz will be promoted to Associate Professor of Ancient Judaism, Dr. Gordon Dale, will be promoted to Associate Professor of Jewish Musicology and Dr. Jack Gottlieb Scholar in Jewish Music Studies, Rabbi Joseph Skloot, Ph.D. will be promoted to Rabbi Aaron D. Panken Associate Professor of Modern Jewish Intellectual History. The promotions recognize the significant contributions each of these three faculty members have made in the realms of teaching, scholarship, and service during their time at the College-Institute.

AJ BerkovitzDr. A.J. Berkovitz, who joined the faculty of the College-Institute in 2018, is an expert in ancient Jewish history and culture. His research spans Jewish texts, traditions, and history from the formation of the Hebrew Bible until the rise of Islam and focuses on questions that pertain to the topics of material history, textual authority, translation, ritual performance, and inter-religious discourse. His recent monograph, A Life of Psalms in Jewish Late Antiquity (University of Pennsylvania Press), examines the ways in which late antique Jews imbued Scripture with meaning, transformed its contours, and were in turn, shaped by it. The book received an Association for Jewish Studies Jordan Schnitzer First Book Award. He co-edited the work Authority in Late Antique Historiography: Authorship, Law and Transmission in Jewish and Christian Tradition (London: Routledge) and has also penned just under twenty academic publications including his most recent article, “Psalm 45 between Jesus and Abraham: A Polemic and its Shelf Life” in AJS Review, which received the Compendia Rerium Iudaicarum ad Novum Testamentum Essay Prize; and is an occasional contributor to popular publications such as Tablet Magazine and the Jewish Review of Books. He is currently the co-chair of the Bible and History of Biblical Interpretation division at the Association for Jewish Studies as well as the co-chair of the HUC-JIR Faculty Research Colloquium. He was also Starr Fellow at Harvard University. Dr. Berkovitz received his B.A. in Jewish Studies and an M.A. in Bible from Yeshiva University, and his Ph.D. from Princeton University.


Gordon Dale headshotDr. Gordon Dale began teaching in the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music in Fall 2014 and was promoted to a tenure-track position and named as the inaugural Dr. Jack Gottlieb Scholar in Jewish Music Studies starting July 1, 2022. Dr. Dale’s scholarship focuses primarily on the role of music in the American Orthodox Jewish community, with a special concentration on nigunim (traditional Jewish folk or religious melodies) in the Hasidic community. His published work encompasses the forthcoming two-volume publication, The Life and Collected Works of Rabbi Ben Zion Shenker, and articles published in peer-reviewed journals, including “Shifting Paradigms, Pandemic Realities: The Reception of Ishay Ribo’s Music in the American Hasidic Community” and “Kosher Music, Kosher Space, and the Ethnographic Study of Orthodox Jewish Life.” Dr. Dale received a B.S. in Music, summa cum laude, from Northeastern University, followed by an M.A. in Music with a concentration in Ethnomusicology from Tufts University and a Ph.D. in Music from The Graduate Center of the City University of New York.


Joseph A. SklootRabbi Joseph Skloot, Ph.D. currently holds the title of the Rabbi Aaron D. Panken Assistant Professor of Modern Jewish Intellectual History and serves as the Associate Director of the Tisch/Star Fellowship program. Skloot is a historian of Jewish culture and religious thought in the early modern and modern periods. His research explores the history of Hebrew books, Jewish-Christian relations, the development of Jewish law, and Reform Jewish theology. Rabbi Skloot earned his A.B. in History from Princeton University, his rabbinical ordination from HUC-JIR, and his Ph.D. in Jewish History from Columbia University. He received the Association for Jewish Studies’ prestigious Jordan Schnitzer First Book Publication Award in 2023 for his book, First Impressions: Sefer Ḥasidim and Early Modern Hebrew Printing, which was published by Brandeis University Press last year. Prior to his appointment to HUC-JIR’s faculty in 2018, Skloot served as Associate Rabbi at Washington Hebrew Congregation in Washington, D.C.


President Andrew Rehfeld, Ph.D. remarked “It is a special pleasure to announce these promotions of our exceptional faculty members who have made significant contributions to academic scholarship and the life of HUC-JIR. Through their research, commitment to evolving pedagogy, and dedication to our students, professors Berkovitz, Dale, and Skloot are helping HUC-JIR expand our role as a laboratory for academic inquiry, spiritual exploration, and cultural creativity, where we study, create, and learn to apply Jewish wisdom. We are honored to have them on our faculty.”

Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, Ph.D., the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Provost at the College-Institute, added, “These well-deserved promotions highlight the centrality of tenure track faculty to our mission. These three beloved professors contribute to HUC-JIR’s efforts to advance the academic study of Judaism and promote public engagement with Jewish ideas as we cultivate exceptional Jewish leaders to serve as rabbis, cantors, Jewish educators, and nonprofit professionals. Professors Berkovitz, Dale, and Skloot appreciate what it means to teach in a seminary and take pride and pleasure in mentoring our students to become the Jewish leaders we need to create a flourishing Jewish future. I look forward to supporting them as they continue to develop and thrive as scholars and teachers.”