President's report 2000-2001

President's report 2000-2001

ADA Version of President’s Report 2000-2001

Annual Report 2000-2001

Dear Friends,

At Passover, our festival of freedom, we are reminded that each of us should regard ourselves as if we had personally come out of Egypt. At Shavuot, our celebration of the gift of Torah to the Jewish people, we are taught that we all stood at Sinai where we witnessed the giving of the law that has inspired our people’s values and destiny throughout the millennia. There are seven weeks between these two celebrations, during which we observe a sacred period – s’firat haomer – the counting of the omer. Every night, we count the new day marking our journey from slavery to the Covenant with God.

In biblical times the Israelites were commanded to bring an “omer” – a measure of their first fruits at harvest time as a special sacrifice. The Rabbis considered the bringing of the omer as one of the most important observances: each person’s repayment to God for the “manna” of his/her life.

Today, the resources symbolized by the omer are indispensable in ensuring the continuity of Jewish tradition, heritage, and ethics – the mission of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Here, Jewish scholarship, leadership, and spirituality are vitalized through a liberal engagement with 21st century life.

Your omer – your commitment to strengthening HUC-JIR as the academic, professional, and spiritual leadership development center for Reform Judaism and world Jewry – guarantees the Jewish future.

We are grateful for your generous help in advancing HUC-JIR’s priorities:

  • enhancing and sustaining our premier faculty
  • providing scholarship assistance to students dedicated to serving the Jewish people
  • developing innovative curriculum for our graduate and professional programs
  • integrating new technologies to enhance our academic programs and research resources
  • maintaining our libraries, archives, and museums preserving Jewish heritage
  • offering educational and cultural outreach to the Reform Movement’s
  • congregations, schools, and institutions, klal Yisrael, and the community-at-large throughout North America, Israel, and the world.

We thank you for your omer and invite your continued commitment to building a vision for the future – a future blessed with peace in which the Jewish people lives and thrives.

With warmest wishes for a sweet Passover and a joyful Shavuot,

Dr. David Ellenson

Burton Lehman
Chair, Board of Governors

The Root of the Word “Rabbi” is Teacher

Our students embody a passionate commitment to tikkun olam – repairing the world. Students are encouraged to question, explore, and innovate – they are builders of an ever changing and ever growing encounter with modernity. They enter our rigorous graduate and professional programs with masters, doctorates, and other professional degrees from leading universities throughout the world. The majority are in their 20s and 30s; approximately 20% are older, entering as second career students who enrich the learning community with their professional and life experience.

Our Rabbinical Program is the largest among all seminaries in North America and ordains more rabbis than any other accredited institution of higher Jewish learning. Our graduate and professional programs offer a rigorous tripartite curriculum of text study, spiritual development, and professional training. Supervised student pulpits and internships are core requirements in all programs, with students serving nearly one third of the Reform Movement’s congregations, schools, and institutions each year, including small, isolated congregations that would otherwise lack trained spiritual leadership.

St. Louis-born and Tulane University alumna Stephanie Alexander is a joint rabbinical and education student at HUC-JIR, Class of 2003. During her two years at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati, she was the student rabbi in Galesburg, Illinois, where she provided a broad range of rabbinical services to her community of 30 active families. Now a student at HUC-JIR/New York, she is the education intern at Temple Sinai in Roslyn, where she is honing her skills in family education for a community of 1100 families and will serve as the rabbinic intern next year.

The recipient of a scholarship from Congregation Rodeph Sholom in New York City, Alexander is grateful for this support which has enabled her to accelerate her joint degree studies. “This scholarship has given me the gift of time – time to develop new skills that will enable me to be a better educator and rabbi. It has enabled me to take seven courses per semester, with my rabbinical and education courses meshing together in ways that have enriched my vision for my future pulpit rabbinate. Freed from the need to take on outside work to support myself, I am able to give all of my time to my studies and internship, thereby intensifying my opportunities to be creative and try new educational strategies. Family education is the up and coming area in our Movement and I am grateful for the opportunity to specialize my training in this area. I take seriously the responsibility of being a teacher to the people I serve today and to the community I will serve in the future.”

From a Minyan of Men to Women’s Studies

In 1875, Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise’s faculty began with one person, grew slowly due to lack of funds, and totaled 10 men at the time of his death – but was the largest Judaic studies faculty in America of its time. Today, HUC-JIR has an internationally recognized faculty of scholars in every area of Jewish research, many of whom are the products of HUC-JIR’s own doctoral degree programs. Sixty full-time faculty are augmented by over sixty part-time faculty, including clinical faculty and mentors.

The faculty are gifted teachers and transmitters of Jewish history and heritage who are producing innovative scholarship and publications in areas ranging from Bible and liturgy to rabbinics, Jewish education and history. These internationally recognized scholars, through their teaching, research, and publication, are indispensable in sustaining HUC-JIR’s academic strength, attracting students, and providing service to the Reform Movement.

Within the past five years, 10 of the 15 new faculty appointments have been women scholars. Women faculty, together with women students and alumnae, are transforming contemporary understanding of Jewish text, worship, teaching, and community building. In the words of Rabbi Sally Priesand, the first woman rabbi ordained in 1972 by HUC-JIR, “Students at the College-Institute, who are the future leaders of our Movement, must be given the opportunity to hear the voices of women as well as men. They must embrace the experiences of all Jews in the spirit of equality, knowing that every human being is a a piece of priceless mosaic in the design of God’s universe.”

The Rabbi Sally J. Priesand Visiting Profesorship of Jewish Women’s Studies, made possible by the members of the Women’s Rabbinic Network and by the generous support of HUC-JIR alumnae, alumni, and many other donors, enables HUC-JIR to invite a leading scholar to teach, offer mentorship, and contribute to the community for a semester at each of our centers of learning. Launched in the Fall of 1999, Priesand Visiting Professors have included Dr. Tikva Frymer-Kensky (New York, 1999), Dr. Marcia Falk (Cincinnati, 2000), and composer/writer Elizabeth Swados (Los Angeles, 2002). Next year’s Priesand Visiting Professor will be in residence at our Jerusalem School.

New Rabbinical Core Curriculum Strengthens Teaching, Learning, and Congregational Impact

Charged with creating a new core curriculum for the Rabbinical Program that would integrate the acquisition of Judaica knowledge and professional skills with religious growth, an international committee of faculty, administrators, and expert consultants met throughout 2000-2001 to develop the framework for the first three years of study toward the M.A. degree. The impetus for curricular change resulted from College-wide strategic planning completed in 1998, which recommended a variety of strategies for strengthening teaching, learning, and collaboration among faculty.

Initial support from The Nathan Cummings Foundation enabled planners to shape a new curriculum focusing not only on what information students learn, but how they may apply their knowledge and skills to articulate a clear vision for Jewish life — for themselves, their congregants, and their communities. To help students to achieve the curriculum’s clear benchmarks for learning, HUC-JIR will offer a variety of new educational experiences, such as intensive seminars, community dialogues, and an intensified mentoring program. New methods of assessing students’ progress in relation to curricular goals, including the creation of portfolios, have also been developed.

Faculty at each site are now designing local plans for implementing the new Rabbinical Program curriculum, which will be launched in 2002-2003 for students completing the required first year in Israel at the Jerusalem School. Hebrew language will be emphasized throughout the curriculum, with the main focus on reading and interpretive skills. The College-Institute is also creating preparatory courses for applicants who need to improve their Judaica knowledge and Hebrew language skills prior to matriculation.

To help prepare faculty for the new curriculum, especially newly- appointed professors, the College-Institute sponsored a three- day colloquium that explored participants’ assumptions about teaching and learning, personal reflections on teaching practices, and assessment as a vehicle for student growth. The colloquium was made possible by a grant from the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion. The College-Institute’s faculty will continue the dialogue and self- reflection on teaching as well as the curriculum planning at an all-faculty retreat in June 2002.

From Talmud to New Technology

The Talmud records the commentaries of rabbis who interpreted the Bible and Jewish law two thousand years ago. On each page, scholars and teachers who lived centuries apart and in disparate lands, illuminated Jewish thought in a conceptual universe that transcended geography and time. Their dialogue continues in our own time, part of an eternal conversation with each new generation of students.

Just as the Talmudists in antiquity, the advent of new technologies in the 21st century enables HUC-JIR to collapse time and space. With computer technology, we inhabit a global village and have the ability to communicate, teach, and enlighten an infinite number of learners at any time, in any place, and in ways we never imagined.

The portal to new computer-based information and learning opportunities at HUC-JIR is our website, With a brand new design and updated content, our website offers up-to-the-moment information on our academic and professional programs, research centers, faculty scholarship, community educational and cultural offerings, and more.

Our website is an indispensable means of recruitment, offering prospective students key information to guide their journey toward Jewish professional careers. It offers opportunities for continuing education for alumni and, in the near future, distance education preparatory courses for those planning to apply to our graduate and professional programs.

The HUC-JIR academic catalog, with program descriptions and course listings, is continually updated. So is our integrated on-line library catalog, containing hundreds of thousands of records of Hebraica and Judaica works in our libraries’ collections. You can browse through the extensive holdings of the American Jewish Archives, documenting centuries of Jewish life in the Western Hemisphere.

You can find daily news postings, the national calendar of events, faculty articles and papers, convocation addresses, electronically-published editions of HUC-JIR journals and magazines, and directories for faculty and administration.

On-line exhibitions range from digitized images from HUC-JIR’s 5,000 rare manuscript and archival holdings to the most recent contemporary art expressing Jewish themes.

The AJA: Where American Jewish History Lives

Dr. Jacob Rader Marcus was a visionary who understood that it was American Jewry’s responsibility to preserve the continuity of Jewish life and learning after the destruction of the Holocaust. In 1947, he founded the American Jewish Archives at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati with the mission of documenting, collecting, and preserving the history of Jews and Jewish communities in the Western Hemisphere.

Today, our Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives is one of the world’s premier centers of study, research, and publication in the field of American Jewish history. The AJA collects and catalogues published and manuscript material and preserves more than 10 million documents recording the history of American Jewry, including the archival records of HUC-JIR, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and Women of Reform Judaism. In addition, with the preservation of the World Jewish Congress archives, the AJA is a central address for research on the Holocaust and its aftermath.

Scholars and Archives Fellows from around the world conduct research within the 6,000 linear feet of correspondence, manuscripts, near-print materials, photographs, audio and video tapes, microfilm, and genealogical records. The AJA publishes one of the world’s major journals devoted to the American Jewish experience, The American Jewish Archives Journal. It sponsors conferences for synagogue archivists, so that the documentation of Jewish communal life will be preserved for future generations. The AJA’s website,, posts on-line exhibitions on American Jewish history, utilizing documents, moving image, and sound drawn from its extraordinary collections.

The AJA is currently in the midst of a major expansion that will enhance its service to students, scholars, and to Jewish organizations and institutions seeking to safeguard their archival collections. The Edwin A. Malloy Education Building, established in memory of the beloved Vice Chair and long-time member of HUC-JIR’s Board of Governors through a $2 million gift of the Malloy Family’s Sun Hill Foundation, will enable the AJA to erect a state-of-the-art academic and educational home. With an electronic learning center and an exhibition gallery, the Malloy Education Building will amplify the recently completed Jacob Rader Marcus Repository Building which provides the AJA with the space needed for the preservation and conservation of archival collections. “The Edwin A. Malloy Building will be part of a world class home for the largest cataloged collection of source materials documenting the history of American Jewry,” notes Dr. Gary P. Zola, AJA Director. “In memorializing Edwin Malloy’s love for scholarship of the Jewish past, we are blessed to perpetuate the legacy of his lifelong friend, the AJA founder, Dr. Jacob Rader Marcus.”

Summary Financial Figures

HUC-JIR Revenue, 2002-2003

MUM -43.5%

Fund Raising -29.3%

Investment -10.1%

Tuition -9.3%

Other -7.8%

HUC-JIR Expenses, 2002-2003

Instruction -35.7%

Academic Support -18.6%

Maintenance -11.3%

Development -8.3%

Institutional Support -17.0%

Student Services -2.3%

Student Stipends and Scholarships -6.8%