HUC-JIR/Cincinnati Celebrates Founders' Day

Cincinnati Founders DayFounders’ Day on the Cincinnati campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion celebrated the enduring vision of Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise (left), founder of the Hebrew Union College in 1875, and Rabbi Stephen S. Wise (right), founder of the Jewish Institute of Religion in 1922, on Thursday, March 24, 2022. Inspired by the legacy of our founders, HUC prepares rabbis, cantors, leaders in Jewish education, Jewish nonprofit professionals, pastoral counselors, and scholars to apply their knowledge, commitment, vision, and expertise to strengthen and transform the Jewish community and larger world. Watch the recording.

Rabbi Jonathan Hecht, Ph.D., Dean of HUC-JIR/Cincinnati, shared his thoughts on Founders’ Day: “There is nothing more important than remembering where we came from and the important work of those who came before us. On Founders’ Day, remembering the contributions of Isaac Mayer Wise and Stephen S. Wise to the formation of American Jewry helps us focus on what we are doing today. They were change agents. That was the legacy they bequeathed to us. Our goal is to continue to innovate and change and build a strong Jewish community going forward.”

Rabbi Mark Washofsky

Rabbi Mark Washofsky

Rabbi Mark Washofsky, Ph.D., Solomon B. Freehof Professor Emeritus of Jewish Law and Practice, received the Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, and delivered the Founders’ Day address. A distinguished ethicist of the Reform Movement and beloved teacher and mentor of generations of students on our Cincinnati campus, Dr. Washofsky retired on December 31, 2021. Associated with HUC-JIR for nearly five decades, Dr. Washofsky received his rabbinical ordination in 1980 and his Ph.D. in 1987. He has served as a member of the HUC faculty since 1985, and in 2006 succeeded Dr. Ben Zion Wacholder, z”l, as holder of the Chair established in honor of Dr. Solomon B. Freehof by The Allen H. and Selma W. Berkman Charitable Trust.

“HUC-JIR has been my academic and professional home for almost fifty years,” reflected Dr. Washofsky. “It has allowed me to devote my working life to things that I love: to study, to teaching, to research, and to building ongoing relationships with students and colleagues. I can look back on my career and say, with all honesty, that it has been deeply satisfying. The Hebrew Union College, as an institution, as a geographical place (the Cincinnati campus), and as a community is largely responsible for that, and I am grateful beyond words.”

Distinguished alumni who have served the Reform Movement for 25 years received the Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa: Rabbi Mark S. Bloom and Rabbi Sandra J. Cohen of the Class of 1995; Rabbi Aaron Bisno, Rabbi Kenneth Carr, Rabbi Geoffrey Dennis, and Rabbi Jennifer Weiner of the Class of 1996, and Rabbi Jay Moses, Rabbi Elena Stein, and Rabbi Andrea Steinberger of the Class of 1997.
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