President's Report 2002-2003

President's Report 2002-2003 Cover

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ADA Version of President’s Report 2002-2003

Annual Report 2002-2003

Dear Friends,

As we reflect on this past year of achievement at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, we are reminded of our institution’s core values and mission: to prepare Jewish leaders who will make a difference in our world and ensure a vital Jewish future.

Our College-Institute is committed to that future. We are a seminary for sacred as wll as applied learning – a laboratory for learning, research, and scholarship that not only sustains the continuity of our heritage, but also has a direct impact on the millions of Reform Jewish and klala yisrael in North America, Israel, and throughout the world.

The 2002-03 academic year has een significant advances in fulfilling our mission:

  • We have admitted over 70 students in our Year-In-Israel Program for first-year rabbinical, cantorial, and education students – the largest number of students in over a decade;
  • We have enrolled 40 Israeli rabbinical students preparing for leadership of the Reform congregations and institutions in Israel – an exponential growth in enrollment in that exceeds the thirty-three rabbis ordained to date;
  • We have launched our new integrated core rabbinical curriculum to engender integrated teaching and strengthened training, launched a new track of Sephardic students, and implemented new technologies for continuing alumni education;
  • We have renewed our faculty with gifted, emerging scholars, including our institution’s first-ever faculty position in Jewish mysticism, held by Dr. Eitan Fishbane, and now have twenty-four full-time women faculty enriching our teaching and mentorship programs;
  • We have created three new Chairs: The Dr. Paul M. and Trudy Steinberg Distinguished Professorship in Human Relations and Counseling, endowed by the Irma L. and Abram S. Croll Charitable Trust, held by Dr. William Cutter; The Barbara and Stephen Friedman Chair in Liturgy, Worship, and Ritual, created by Barbara and Stephen Friedman, held by Dr. Lawrence Hoffman; and The Rabbi Michael Matuson Chair for Emerging Faculty Scholars, established by Cynthia and Dan Edelman, held by Dr. Jonathan Cohen.
  • We have brought forth 56 new rabbis, 12 new cantors, 10 new educators, and 5 Jewish communal service professionals, and bestowed 65 Master’s and Doctoral degrees on students in our graduate and professional programs;
  • We have appointed the first Vice President-Chief Administrative Officer to strengthen procedures, coordinate the administration of our four campuses, and lead an institutional strategic planning process;
  • We have appointed the first full-time National Director of Alumni Affairs to strengthen alumni relations and continuing education opportunities;
  • Our three stateside campuses were accredited this year; one review team noted “HUC is one of the crown jewels of the Reform Movement;”
  • Our American Jewish Archives has proceeded in the construction of the Edwin A. Malloy Education Building, with an electronic learning center and gallery;
  • Our Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education has launched “Mapping our Tears,” a multi-media exhibition environment to advance tolerance education for students and educators in the tri-state Cincinnati area;
  • Our Rhea Hirsch School of Education has implemented cutting-edge projects that are revisioning Jewish education in day schools, congregational schools, and other learning environments, while our New York School of Education has embarked on continuing education programs encouraging the training of new cadres of educators;
  • The Sexual Orientation Issues in Congregations and Community Initiative and Herman Virtual Resource Center (VRC) have initiated resources and programs to enhance our students’ abilities to act as agents of change in the Jewish community, and a new planning grant will guide our dissemination of the VRC to students, alumni, and others; and
  • The Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health has sponsored groundbreaking conferences and training.

These achievements, only a sampling of the accomplishments of the past year, demonstrate the vitality of our institution and its direct impact on building the Jewish future.

We thank you for your investment in that future, as demonstrated by your support, which has raised over $23 million during the 2002-03 fiscal year, of which $17.2 million is cash – a great achievement in light of continuing economic constraints.

Our students depend on your support, for 80% receive scholarship and/or financial aid (see page 17). As these dedicated men and women prepare for lives of service, we thank you for your generous assistance in ensuring that they will thrive as the next links in a long chain of tradition.

Indeed, our students – future rabbis, cantors, educators, communal professionals, and scholars – are responsible for writing the newest chapters in the ongoing history of our people. They will lead the congregations, institutions, and agencies in Jewish life that promote social justice and tolerance. At a time when the world seems ever more broken, our students and alumni are dedicating their lives to tikkun olam – the healing and mending of our world.

As we approach the holiday of Tu B’Shevat, which marks the renewal of spring in Israel and symbolizes our national renewal in the State of Israel, we celebrate the fruits of nature and plant the seedlings of new trees that symbolize our optimism for a vibrant Jewish future. Together, let us ensure that future and pray that all of our hopes will be fulfilled in a world blessed by peace.

David Ellenson

Burton Lehman
Chair, Board of Governors

Faith in the Future: HUC-JIR’s Faculty for the 21st Century

The faculty is the life’s blood of the College-Institute. The quality of the faculty – as teachers, mentors, and scholars – is essential to accomplishing HUC-JIR’s mission.

The Rabbi Michael Matuson Professorship for Emerging Scholars, established through the generosity of Cynthia Greener Edelman and Dan Edelman, is the first of its kind at HUC-JIR. It supports the teaching, research, and publication activities of the College-Institute’s young scholars during the critical years prior to tenure. The Rabbi Matuson Professorship will help junior faculty to realize their potential, assist HUC-JIR in recruiting and retaining the most gifted teachers and scholars, and assure the highest academic standards for the leaders HUC-JIR prepares for Reform Judaism and the wider Jewish community.

In inaugurating the Matuson Professorship, Rabbi Ellenson stated, “With their creation of this unique professorship, Cindy and Dan Edelman have demonstrated their devotion to the College-Institute’s mission of Jewish scholarship, teaching, and learning. In nurturing young, emerging scholars who will educate the next generations of Reform rabbis and communal leaders, they are guaranteeing shalshelet ha-kabbalah – the chain of Jewish learning – that will ensure the Jewish future.”

The Professorship honors one of HUC-JIR’s esteemed rabbinical alumni, Rabbi Michael Matuson, spiritual leader of the Edelmans’ synagogue, Congregation Ahavath Chesed of Jacksonville, Florida, since 1996.

Ordained at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati in 1984, he is the senior member of the local Rabbinic Council, serves as Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Conference for Community & Justice, Jacksonville Region, and on the Board of Trustees of FRESHMINISTRIES, is a member of the Interfaith Steering Committee in the Mayor’s office and actively works with HabiJax and the Interfaith Council of Jacksonville. He served in the Israel Defense Forces during the Yom Kippur War in 1973.

Dr. Jonathan Cohen, Assistant Professor of Talmud and Halachic Literature, and Director of the HUC-University of Cincinnati Center for the Study of Ethics and Contemporary Moral Problems, is the first emerging scholar to hold this Professorship. An Israeli-born scholar, he earned his L.L.B. (Honors) degree from the University of Kent in Canterbury and received his Ph.D. in Law from the University of Liverpool. He coordinates an M.A. and Ph.D. program that focuses on Jewish Law and Ethics and teaches joint comparative law courses at HUC-JIR and the University of Cincinnati College of Law. Under his leadership, the HUC-UC Ethics Center has provided continuing education programs for professionals, as well as public lectures, panel discussions, conferences, and symposia.

Cindy Edelman stated, “What this gift ultimately symbolizes is a love of the Jewish faith and ideals, a love of HUC-JIR and the people who continue to build it, a quest for learning, and a vision for the future. May the future recipients of the Rabbi Michael Matuson Professorship always know the integrity, dedication to our faith, and essential goodness of the Chair’s namesake. He has been an inspiration to me and it is my fervent wish that with the endowment of this Chair, he will go on to inspire others for many years to come.”

Cultural Heritage and Consciousness: Integrating Sephardic Studies into the Curriculum

It is remarkable that one man’s journey to build a new life in a new homeland would so deeply affect the lives of tomorrow’s leaders. One hundred years ago, Maurice Amado, a descendant of Spanish Jews, emigrated from Izmir, Turkey to New York, where he became a successful financier. He later moved to Los Angeles and in 1961 established a foundation, which today carries on the philanthropic mission of supporting organizations that perpetuate Sephardic heritage and culture. His family members, who direct the Maurice Amado Foundation’s activities today, have recognized the College-Institute’s academic goals by awarding a four-year grant for its Sephardic Studies Curriculum Project.

This award builds upon four years of groundbreaking work by HUC-JIR, which the Maurice Amado Foundation has also supported, to determine how Sephardic Studies might be integrated into the core curriculum of its graduate professional programs. The new multi-year initiative will expand student and faculty knowledge of the Sephardic heritage and its culture, as well as help to develop the capacity of HUC-JIR’s students to incorporate the Sephardic experience into their understanding of Judaism and Jewish identity.

Through this project, the College-Institute is engaged in a historic initiative to identify the Sephardic canon for teaching and learning for its students who will become leaders of Reform Judaism and the larger Jewish community. This academic approach and institutional commitment are unique to HUC-JIR, as no other Jewish seminary in America has committed to enriching itself and its student body through the integration of Sephardic Studies into its curriculum.

The project is led by Dr. Lewis M. Barth, Dean of HUC-JIR/Los Angeles, and Dr. Mark Kligman, Associate Professor of Jewish Musicology at HUC-JIR/New York, who work closely with the trustees of the Maurice Amado Foundation and Project leaders at each HUC-JIR campus. The Foundation’s support is enabling the College-Institute to develop new classes and learning modules in Sephardic Studies, create student internships, promote faculty research, and foster the general professional growth of faculty in this area. Through conferences and symposia supported by the grant, the College-Institute also will present the results of the Project to scholars and Jewish educators on the regional and national level.

To help HUC-JIR achieve these goals, experts in Sephardic Studies are serving as visiting professors and scholars-in-residence at the College-Institute. Currently, one of the most internationally respected scholars of Sephardic Studies, Dr. Aron Rodrigue, a specialist in Modern Sephardic History at Stanford University, is serving in residence at HUC-JIR’s stateside campuses and will participate in a faculty retreat in the spring. Dr. Rodrigue and other visiting professors will advise the Curriculum Project and help to embed Sephardic Studies into the curriculum.

The generosity of the Maurice Amado Foundation is enabling the College-Institute to teach the Sephardic heritage to its students as a part of the overall Jewish experience. The investment by the Foundation and its trustees is helping HUC-JIR fulfill its commitment to transforming today’s students into Jewish leaders whose vision for Jewish life is grounded in a broadened understanding of the richness of our shared Jewish heritage.

Teaching through Technology: Online Continuing Education for Alumni

Today, the realm of learning is no longer confined to a physical classroom. In an age where internet technology opens the door to a wealth of knowledge, it also presides as host to a virtual community where renowned scholars, professional leaders, and HUC-JIR alumni share ideas and continue to learn.

The CCAR-HUC-JIR Joint Commission for Sustaining Rabbinic Education, a continuing education classroom, can be found by visiting On any given day one can find a scholar lecturing from Jerusalem with participants asking questions from Toronto or Los Angeles, all learning together even though they reside in different parts of the world.

“At the Joint Commission we are shaping a vision for continuing education programs for the Reform Rabbinate,” said Director Rabbi Ellen Nemhauser. “The Joint Commission is a venue where the continued spiritual, intellectual, and educational growth of today’s Jewish leaders is constantly nurtured.”

New distance education strategies developed by HUC-JIR’s National Department of Distance Education, in partnership with the Joint Commission, offer a full curriculum of both current and archived classes where participants can study, independently or together, in telephonic and/or virtual classrooms.

To date, the Joint Commission has already created, promoted, and implemented programs, both onsite and online, that have engaged the participation of more than 500 HUC-JIR alumni.

Mini-courses include Gender and Sexuality in Text, led by Dr. Rachel Adler, Associate Professor of Jewish Religious Thought and Feminist Studies, HUC-JIR/Los Angeles; Dr. Wendy Zierler, Assistant Professor of Modern Jewish Literature and Feminist Studies, HUC-JIR/New York; and Aryeh Cohen, Chair of Rabbinic Studies, University of Judaism; and In Concert or In Conflict? Our American Economic Ethic and Jewish Values, taught by Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and Rabbi Barry Freundel, Assistant Professor of Rabbinics, Baltimore Hebrew University.

In February, Post-denominational Judaism will investigate the development of new religious alternatives that transcend denominational boundaries, taught by Dr. Jack Wertheimer, Provost, Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and Dr. Tsvi Blanchard, Director of Organizational Development, CLAL.

During the seven weeks between Passover and Shavuot, the Joint Commission will again offer the popular Sefirah Study Program, open to all HUC-JIR alumni as well as rabbinical alumni of other movements. This year’s Sefirah Study Program is entitled Talmud Torah As Spiritual Encounter. Dr. Linda Thal, Director, Morei Derekh:

Training Jewish Spiritual Directors, will moderate study with Dr. Elsie Stern, Director, Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, Dr. Norman Cohen, HUC-JIR Provost, and Dr. Eitan Fishbane, Assistant Professor of Jewish Religious Thought, HUC-JIR/Los Angeles.

Online continuing education is an evolving forum for HUC-JIR alumni, whether a rabbi, cantor, educator, or communal professional serving a large congregation or community who wishes to expand his/her learning circle or the one professional serving a small Jewish community who feels isolated from his/her peers. From Jerusalem to Oklahoma, this program is bringing alumni together to continue their study of Torah beyond their years at HUC-JIR.

Hope and Healing: The Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health

Founded on the principle that health and healing are a fundamental part of the Jewish religious experience, the Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health exemplifies HUC-JIR’s cutting edge research resources. The Kalsman Institute is an educational training center that has direct impact on HUC-JIR’s students, alumni, Reform Movement lay and professional leaders, and all those committed to spirituality and healing.

Lee and Irving Kalsman, of blessed memory, and their children, Peachy and Mark Levy, endowed the Kalsman Institute in recognition of the healing role played by a rabbinical student chaplain, now Rabbi Judith Schindler, during Irving Kalsman’s hospitalization eleven years ago. “This innovative, national ‘think tank,’ based at HUC-JIR/Los Angeles,” noted Dr. William Cutter, its Director, “is a center for theological and philosophical discourse that provides a meeting ground for exploring medical and patient provision aspects of health care, advocacy around issues involving health care provisions and ethics, training for future religious and professional leaders in these complex issues, and new models of training for the broader field of health care in the United States. Through dialogue, interpretation and progressive practice, the Kalsman Institute embodies the deepest values of Judaism and the Reform Movement.”

The Kalsman Institute provides Jewish clinical pastoral education (CPE) for HUC-JIR’s rabbinical students in clinical settings, learning environments, interfaith dialogue, and supervision taught by HUC-JIR faculty in conjunction with UCLA Medical Center’s Department of Spiritual Care. Through the Kalsman/Mayer Chaplaincy Internships, established by Herbert Mayer, students are placed in hospital, congregational, and agency settings under the supervision of on-site chaplains and rabbis.

But the Kalsman Institute’s reach penetrates the larger community, as well. In January 2003, more than 80 partners of the Kalsman Institute — agencies, organizations, and individuals devoted to health and healing from a Jewish and ecumenical religious perspective — gathered for presentations that included “Thinking About Stigma: What the Health and Human Rights Movement and the Jewish Health and Healing Movement Can Learn From Each Other.”

In May, 2003, an unprecedented gathering of 275 nurses, rabbis, physicians, cantors, educators, artists, mental-health professionals, students, laypeople, and others convened for a conference on health and healing cosponsored with Temple Chai of Phoenix.

In December 2003, the Kalsman Institute sponsored a conference on “Models of Cooperation: Reflections on the Jewish Healing Movement,” together with the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center and the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine, which presented models for creating interdisciplinary teams within communities to do health-related work.

The Kalsman Institute’s partnership with the National Center for Jewish Healing, funded by The Nathan Cummings Foundation, is creating a “senior faculty” for the Jewish Healing Movement. In it’s partnership with DeLeT, Day School Leadership Through Teaching, the Kalsman Institute helps day-school teachers weave Jewish traditions and values regarding health and healing into general studies and Jewish studies curricula.

The Kalsman Institute, together with the HUC-UC Center for the Study of Ethics and Contemporary Moral Problems, is part of the Academic Coalition for Jewish Bioethics, which is sponsoring a national conference in February-March 2004 on “Addressing Quality of Life: A Challenge for Jewish Bio-Ethics.” The Kalsman Institute is also working with Shleimut, a national STAR-funded project, where nurses, rabbis, social workers, and healthcare advocates convene to develop a philosophy of, and training curriculum for, congregational nursing.

“The Art of Aging: Cultural Representations” is the theme of the Kalsman Institute’s forthcoming workshop on April 29th at HUC-JIR/New York. Healthcare and social service professionals, clergy, artists, writers, and the general public will explore creativity and the aging process in conjuction with the HUC-JIR Museum’s exhibition, “The Art of Aging.”

The Kalsman Institute’s website: provides an encyclopedic directory of resources, conference proceedings, projects, and partnerships. In addition, the website offers Kavanot, prayers composed by rabbis and health care providers, as well as essays and presentations on bioethics and health care law.

For a Flourishing Future: Four New Rabbis for Israel’s Progressive Movement

Now in its 28th year, the Israel Rabbinical Program has matured to have forty students preparing for careers of leadership for the Progressive Movement in Israel. The Program’s exponential growth attests to the flourishing of the Reform Movement in Israel, the positive attributes that liberal Judaism presents to contemporary Israelis seeking spiritual lives, and the burgeoning number of Israeli congregations, schools, organizations, and programs in need of skilled and visionary Reform leadership.

On November 21st, four new rabbis were ordained at HUC-JIR’s Jerusalem campus before an audience of Israeli and international Jewish leaders. Each ordinee’s path to ordination reflects the uniqueness of his or her personal journey, as well as a shared commitment to a life of service to the Jewish people:

Gilad Kariv, 30 years old, is a graduate of the Faculty of Law at Hebrew University, served in the “Talpiot” project of the Israel Defense Forces Intelligence Corps, and clerked for Israel’s State Attorney’s Office. He has been the student rabbi of Beit Daniel Congregation, initiated the Young Adult Leadership Forum for the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, and now serves as Director of the Public and Social Policy Department of the Israeli Religious Action Center, where he plays a senior role in developing and enhancing IRAC’s activities in the field of social justice, its assistance for underprivileged groups in Israeli society, and its interaction with organizations representing segments of the population with special needs. Gilad also serves as a member of the board of the Joint Institute for Jewish Studies and as a member of the board of Hemdat, the Israel Association for the Promotion of Freedom of Science, Religion, and Culture.

Haim Otto Rechnitzer, 40 years old, studied jazz at the Rubin Academy of Music. He completed his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees at Hebrew University in the Jewish Philosophy department. His doctoral thesis examined the philosophy of Leo Strauss. The desire to combine academic research with educational and cultural action led him to join the Jerusalem Fellows program at the Mandel School, and later the Israeli Rabbinical Program at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem. Haim served for five years as a fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute and also worked as a research assistant at the Israel Democracy Institute. He currently teaches Jewish philosophy and trains teachers and educators in formal and informal frameworks.

Galia Riva Sadan, 36 years old, grew up on Kibbutz Yechiam, a kibbutz of the Artzi movement in the Western Galilee, and as a member of Hashomer Hatzair. Her encounter with the youth movement of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism led Galia to Kibbutz Lotan in the Arava and ultimately to join the Movement. A graduate of the departments of Hebrew Literature and Linguistics at Tel Aviv University, she is completing her M.A. thesis in Hebrew Literature on Seder Olam LeShavuout, an epic work by the 11th century poet Shlomo Ben Yehuda Gaon. Galia has coordinated the Bar/Bat Mitzvah program at Kol Haneshama Congregation for several years, and has served as the student rabbi at Achvat Israel Congregation in Rishon Lezion. She currently leads the program at Beit Daniel Congregation which seeks to involve target groups (Bnai Mitzvah families, converts, and others) in the full range of activities offered by the synagogue, and serves as the rabbi in IMPJ congregations in the north of Israel — a position that includes the development of new congregations as well as supervision of well-established ones.

Vered Sakal, 34 years old, served in the Israel Defense Forces and worked as an instructor at the Har Hanegev Field School of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, where she led treks and encouraged visitors to love the land of Israel, particularly the desert. She is a graduate of the departments of General and Jewish Philosophy at Tel Aviv University and holds her M.A. from Hebrew University in management of community organizations and NGO’s and is completing her M.A. in Jewish Philosophy there. Vered currently serves as the rabbi of a new congregation in Givatayim.

These extraordinary individuals now join the nearly 4000 alumni of the College-Institute in making a difference in our world and ensuring a vital Jewish future.

Shared Commitment to a Sacred Journey: Scholarship Support for the Second-Career Student

Annie Fantasia, a second-career rabbinical student in Cincinnati, is among the many students who have entered one of HUC-JIR’s rigorous graduate and professional programs with diverse professional backgrounds. Annie’s first career was serving as a business controller and healthcare CFO. She is now a fourth-year rabbinical student who is preparing for a career of service as a Jewish spiritual and educational leader. Annie is immersed in a journey that will culminate in her ordination in 2005.

Like Annie, twenty percent of the HUC-JIR’s students are second-career students. In taking on full-time studies, many of these students find the costs of living expenses combined with tuition and, often, support of families and children, to be a heavy financial burden to bear. In fact, over 80 percent of HUC-JIR’s first- and second-career students qualify for and receive scholarship assistance and/or financial aid.

Annie is a recipient of the multi-year Brody Hassenfeld Scholarship, established by Dr. Paula Brody, Director of Outreach Programs and Training for the Union for Reform Judaism, Northeast Council, and Merrill Hassenfeld, a member of HUC- JIR’s New York Board of Overseers. The support that they have provided Annie extends well beyond a financial contribution. They have been beside her every step of the way — guiding her Jewish education and conversion to Judaism years ago, nurturing her learning and congregational involvement at Temple Beth El Center in Belmont, Massachusetts, where she was mentored by Rabbi Jonathan Krauss, encouraging her decision to go to rabbinical school, and supporting her first year of study in Israel. Not only has their financial assistance been a blessing for Annie, but, in addition, their emotional and spiritual guidance has given Annie something even more valuable, a special bond of friendship linking their family and one very dedicated individual.

Scholarships like this one, whether multi-year or annual, are vital investments that ensure Jewish leadership for the future. In preparing to be a leader for 21st century Jewry, Annie has already begun to play an active role in forming and shaping the Reform Movement while serving as the student rabbi with a biweekly pulpit at Temple Beth El in Muncie, Indiana. The model of generosity that the Brody Hassenfeld Scholarship has helped create, combining financial assistance with a personal relationship, will help guide Annie Fantasia and other students just like her to complete their academic journeys to ordination, and to devote lives of service, knowledge, and commitment to the Jewish community for years to come.

Summary Financial Figures

HUC-JIR Revenue, 2002-2003

MUM -31.1%

Fund Raising -42.6%

Investment -5.4%

Tuition -13.0%

Other -7.9%

HUC-JIR Expenses, 2002-2003

Instruction -33.6%

Academic Support -19.4%

Maintenance  -14.2%

Development -5.9%

Institutional Support -19.0%

Student Services -1.0%

Student Stipends and Scholarships -6.9%