Inaugural HUC-JIR Alumni Study Retreat Hosted on Historic Cincinnati Campus

February 1, 2024

Rabbi Kari Tuling, Ph.D

Alumni, students, and faculty gathered for our inaugural Alumni Study Retreat on HUC-JIR’s Cincinnati Campus January 7-10. Faculty presented their latest research, and teachers, scholars, and alumni shared their wisdom and spiritual leadership through a series of interactive and engaging sessions.

Group photo of alumni study retreat participants

“As a retreat in and of itself, it was lovely. Folks had a good time learning, many enjoyed being on the Cincinnati campus, and there was a nice feeling of community among the participants.”
— Rabbi Daniel Kirzane ’12, ’14, Chair of HUC-JIR’s Alumni Leadership Council

Learning opportunities included faculty and alumni presentations on topics from “The Rabbis on the Problem of Suffering” (Rabbi Richard Sarason, Ph.D., Director, Pines School of Graduate Studies; The Deutsch Family Professor of Rabbinics and Liturgy) to “So You Want To Write a Book” (Rabbi Kari Tuling, Ph.D. ’04, ’13). Rabbi David H. Aaron, Ph.D., Professor of Hebrew Bible and History of Interpretation, presented on Tractate Avot and Rabbi Jeff Stombaugh ’16, ’18 on engaging young families outside of synagogues. Reflection groups discussed topics like the legacy and potential for the Cincinnati campus, how to bring the learning at this retreat into one’s professional life, and the future of the Reform Movement, including the role of serious study among professionals and laypeople.

Exploring the Klau Library's Rare Book Room

Exploring the Klau Library’s Rare Book Room

The group explored the rare books of the Klau Library, the extensive incredible holdings of The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, and the beautiful art and artifacts of the Cincinnati Skirball Museum. A public program featured Rabbi Shirley Idelson, Ph.D., Director of the Zelikow School of Jewish Nonprofit Management, discussing the topic of “Past is Present: Stephen S. Wise, the Jewish Institute of Religion, and the Reinvention of American Liberal Judaism.”



Rabbi Shirley Idelson, Ph.D at the podium

Rabbi Shirley Idelson, Ph.D


“Rabbi Idelson’s webinar gave me a whole new perspective on the ways Stephen Wise’s work continues to shape present day movements. How meaningful to be able to engage in this ongoing learning opportunity from home together with the HUC-JIR community!”
— Liz (Isabel) Dunst, HUC-JIR Board of Governors

Jason Rose, HUC-JIR’s Director of Alumni Engagement said, “Many of the 40 alumni participants from across North America expressed their appreciation for the profound and purposeful study sessions with faculty. They also valued the opportunity to spend time on the Cincinnati campus and eagerly anticipate returning for future programs.”

Rabbi Jonathan L. Hecht, Ph.D., Dean of the Cincinnati campus shared, “What a delight it was to have such a distinguished and thoughtful group of HUC-JIR alumni on our historic Cincinnati Campus for study and fellowship! The learning was top-notch. Exploring our world-class collections in our library, our archives, and our museum, was extra special. We look forward to many more opportunities to welcome HUC-JIR supporters to our campus.”

Dean Rabbi Jonathan Hecht, Ph.D. and Provost Rabbi Andrea Weiss, Ph.D

Dean Rabbi Jonathan Hecht, Ph.D. and Provost Rabbi Andrea Weiss, Ph.D

The event served as an opportunity for alumni from all over to gather, learn, and build a sense of community.

Thank you to the Alumni Study Retreat Planning Committee: Rabbi Joshua Brown ’08, MAJE ’07; Rabbi Geoffrey Dennis ’96; Rabbi Daniel Kirzane ’14, MARE ’12; Rabbi Melinda Mersack ’00; Rabbi David Oler, Ph.D. (expected DHL, PSGS ’24); Rabbi Kari Tuling ’04, Ph.D. ’13; and Rabbi Ben Zeidman ’10.