President's Report 2010-2011

President's Report 2010-2011 Cover

View the PDF

ADA version of President’s Report 2010-2011

Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion

President’s Report 2010-2011

2010-2011 at a Glance

Profiles in New Academic Leadership

The Jim Joseph Foundation Education Initiative

HUC-JIR in Print
Faculty Highlights

Meet Our Students in Action

Jerusalem Ordination and Academic Convocation

The Spirituality Initiative of the New York School
Centenary, Collaboration, and Community: HUC-JIR/Cincinnati
Israel Engagement: HUC-JIR/Jerusalem
A Unique Partnership: HUC-JIR/Jack H. Skirball Campus/Los Angeles and USC

Honor Roll of Donors
Summary Financial Figures
Boards, Councils, and Administration

Key to abbreviations

C = Rabbinical Ordination, Cincinnati
J = Rabbinical Ordination, Jerusalem
L = Rabbinical Ordination, Los Angeles
N = Rabbinical Ordination, New York
DFSSM = Cantorial Investiture, Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music, New York
NYSOE = M.A. in Religious Education, New York School of Education
RHSOE = M.A. in Jewish Education, Rhea Hirsch School of Education, Los Angeles
SJCS = M.A. in Jewish Communal Service, School of Jewish Communal Service (now known as School of Jewish Nonprofit Management), Los Angeles
SJNM = M.A. in Jewish Nonprofit Management, School of Jewish Nonprofit Management, Los Angeles
Ph.D. = Doctorate, School of Graduate Studies, Cincinnati
D. Min. = Doctor of Ministry, Graduate Studies Program, New York
D. H. L. = Doctor of Hebrew Letters
D. Hu. L. = Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters

The President’s Report is published by the National office of Institutional Advancement

Jane F. Karlin, Ph.D., Vice President for Institutional Advancement

Jean B. Rosensaft, Assistant Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs; Editor

Allison Glazer, National Public Affairs Coordinator; Assistant Editor

Design: Tabak Design

Photography: American Jewish Archives: pages 46, 47; Bill Aron, Los An- geles: page 13; Isaac Harari, Jerusalem: pages 4, 22, 24, 42, 43, 48, 49, 67, back cover; Richard Lobell, New York: page 4; Janine Spang, Cincinnati: pages 4, 6, 7, 26, 32, 34, 39, 40, 68; Marvin Steindler, Los Angeles: pages: 4, 13, 27, 28, 29, 31, 33, 37, 39, 50, 51.

Back Cover: Year-In-Israel students visit Channel Two News in Neve Ilan, outside of Jerusalem, to learn about coverage of breaking news and internet news distribution as part of their Israel Seminar focusing on the changing nature of Israel’s media.

The College-Institute regrets any errors or omissions to these donor lists. Please be so kind as to bring them to our attention in order that we may correct our records.

President’s Report

The conviction that human beings possess freedom and responsibility has animated the educational endeavors that have marked Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion since the days of Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, and they continue to serve as the foundation upon which our school rests today.

As I write these words for this issue of the President’s Report, I am reminded of a philosophical observation that both our ancient rabbis and modern philosophers have made – that the realm of the human being is distinct from the realm of nature. The realm of nature is governed by a mechanistic determinism. As the Gemara phrases it, “Suppose a man steals a measure of wheat and sows it in his own field, din hu she’lo titzmah – it would be right that the wheat not grow.” After all, it is stolen seed. Yet, “’ olam ke’minhago noheg – nature pursues its own course.” The world of nature is not one of volition.

In contrast, our human world is one of free will and choice. Our tradition captures this notion in the concept of Brit (Covenant) that undergirds our religion. This notion holds that the Jewish people and all humanity are capable of shaping and directing the world, that we are shutafin (partners) with God in these tasks. Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise granted this belief such centrality in his thinking that he amended the first paragraph of the ‘ Amidah, the prayer par excellence in Jewish tradition, to read, “ V’zocher brit avot – O God, Who remembers the Covenant ( Brit) made with our ancestors,” in lieu of the more familiar, “ V’zocher hasdei avot – O God, Who remembers the loving deeds of our ancestors.”

In so doing, Rabbi Wise declared Jews in every age – today no less than our ancestors in generations past – are called to recognize that we are not simply born into the world as if by fate alone. Rather, we are called to the creative task of molding our world and our community, fashioning within that which is fashioned.

We cannot escape context and conditions. At the same time, we must not grant them sovereignty over us and contend that the future will inexorably unfold. Rather, the deeds we perform will guide and direct the world that will come to be. The conviction that human beings possess freedom and responsibility has animated the educational endeavors that have marked Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion since the days of Rabbi Wise, and they continue to serve as the foundation upon which our school rests today.

In the pages that follow you will be introduced to many of our students, faculty, and staff as we celebrate their creativity and deeds during this past year. They know that they have the freedom to shape the world, and they recognize that their deeds will help to shape the contours of our community in our day. They strive in so many original and innovative ways to create a meaningful Judaism for a Jewish people who are rapidly evolving, yet still seek the stability and compassion that the wisdom of our Massoret (Tradition) can and does provide.

As you now read of some of the myriad accomplishments and activities of the persons who learn and teach at our College-Institute, you will see that they are individuals possessed and informed by a knowledge, passion, and imagination that directs them to chart the course and direction of Jewish spiritual and communal life for our own time as well as for future generations.

I would express my deepest gratitude to all of you who have given so generously in support of HUC-JIR and our educational-religious mission. You sustain our institution and have allowed our school and its programs to flourish for the benefit of humankind and our people. For this, I remain most appreciative and grateful. Thank you, and enjoy what follows. You have made it possible!

Rabbi David Ellenson, N ’77, Ph.D.
March 2012 Adar 5772


2010-2011 at a Glance


The Biblical World and Its Impact: Precept and Praxis – A symposoim in Honor of Dr. Samuel Greengus honored Dr. Greengus for 50 years of service as Morgenstern Professor Emeritus of Bible and Near Eastern Literature and Professor Emeritus of Semitic Languages (1963-2010), Dean and Director of the Rabbinical School (1979-1984), Director of the School of Graduate Studies (1985-1990;2007-2010), Dean of Faculty (1987-1996), HUC-JIR Vice-President of Academic Affairs (1990-1996), and Faculty Chair of the Graduate Executive Committee (1997-2007).

The HUC-UC Ethics Center hosted “Ashes to Ashes” by playwright Harold Pinter, presented by the Cincinnati Psychoanalytic Institute. The play, addressing human relationships and memories of political violence, was followed by a discussion featuring experts in psychoanalysis and the Holocaust.

The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives was designated as the permanent repository of the records of the Union for Reform Judaism’s Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC), including case files concerning the RAC’s advocacy on behalf of major domestic and international issues of political, cultural, social, and economic importance, from 1960 to the present.

Microfilm of most of the Klau Library’s Hebrew manuscripts collection was digitized and posted on The world- renowned collection of early Christian Hebraica formed the basis for the exhibit “Miracle Within a Miracle: Johannes Reuchlin and the Jewish Book Controversy,” which premiered at the University of Illinois and is now on display at the Klau Library.


The first-year of the Mandel-HUC-JIR Initiative for Visionary Jewish Leadership was launched. This program is designed to strengthen Israel and Jewish peoplehood engagment for all students in the Year-In-Israel Program and all stateside rabbinical students.

HUC-JIR was prominently featured in the “Hakhel” Conference, which brought together Israeli organizations committed to Jewish Renaissance. Rabbi Naamah Kelman, J ’92, Dean, represented the Reform perspective in the session on “Marriage Ceremonies in Israel.”

Over 500 Israelis participated in the all-night learning at the Tikkun Layl Shavuot, a joint program with Beit Shmuel (World Union for Progressive Judaism) and the Israel Religious Action Center of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, with the support of the New Israel Fund.

The Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology community excavation in Lod continued for its fourth season. Due to its great success, it was expanded this year to include 12 elementary schools with 2500 students and teachers participating.


The Kalsman Institute Roundtable on Judaism and Health Research, supported by the John Templeton Foundation, galvanized an active leadership network of Jewish scholars across disciplines, practitioners, and professionals committed to launching projects, research, and partnerships in the field of Judaism, health, healing, and medicine.

The Reform Think Tank, a joint project of the URJ, CCAR and HUC-JIR, was launched with a public forum convening faculty, Reform Movement lay leaders from throughout North America, and experts in the area of religion, education, and the media. The forum explored how technology changes community building and affiliation, the nature of community in an era of “free” and financial uncertainty, and the meaning of a denomination/movement in an anti-institutional culture.

The Leona Aronoff Rabbinic Mentoring Program, made possible by a generous gift from Leona Aronoff-Sadacca, matched alumni mentors with second- and third-year students, engaged lay leaders and alumni supervising fourth-and fifth-year student pulpits, and offered alumni opportunities for ongoing professional development.

Capstone Projects in the School of Jewish Nonprofit Management by second-year students produced new research on bullying in Jewish day schools, Jewish couples negotiating differences of observance, organizations focused on Iranian Jewish young adults, and engaging the millennial generation in organizational leadership.


The Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music launched the Cantorial Certification Program, which will offer qualified cantorial soloists the opportunity to expand their knowledge and refine their skills through distance learning, on-site intensives, mentoring, and guided independent study.

The HUC-JIR community created a message of hope for LGBT teens in the form of a video, “It Gets Better,” which featured faculty and students telling their stories of coming out and integrating their gay or lesbian identities with their Jewish identities.

Orientation for new students included volunteering at the Soup Kitchen, visiting Temple Emanu-El (the venue for their future graduation and ordination), and celebrating Shabbat at Congregation Rodeph Sholom. It culminated in the Kallah retreat, where new and returning students and faculty shared opportunities for community building, study, and new approaches to worship.

The HUC-JIR Museum and the Irma L. and Abram S. Croll Center for Jewish Learning and Culture presented “A Stitch in Time: Provoca- tive Textiles,” featuring the works of leading international artists, and circulated the traveling exhibition: “BESA: Albanian Muslim Rescuers during the Holocaust” to museums and universities throughout North America.


Rabbi Kenneth E. Ehrlich
Counselor to the President

B.A., Johns Hopkins University (1969)
Ordained, HUC-JIR/Cincinnati (1974)
Assistant to the Dean, Associate Dean, Acting Dean, HUC-JIR/Cincinnati (1974-1979)
Director, Rabbinical School; Director, Homiletics; Dean, HUC-JIR/Cincinnati (1985-2011).

“For thirty-one years, Rabbi Kenneth E. Ehrlich has led the Cincinnati campus, its faculty, and its academic and profes- sional development programs with devotion,” says Rabbi David Ellenson, HUC-JIR President.

Rabbi Ehrlich’s priority has been relationship building, institutionally and communally. He forged a unique academic partnership with Xavier University, resulting in this Jesuit institution’s ‘minor’ in Jewish Studies taught by HUC-JIR faculty, and developed partnerships with the University of Cincinnati and the University of Dayton. At the same time, he nurtured the commitment of lay leaders and the corporate community through the establishment of the Cincinnati Board of Overseers, the Cincinnati Associates, and the Annual Cincinnati Associates Tribute Dinner.

His vision transformed the physical plant of the campus, with state-of-the-art facilities ranging from Mayerson Hall and the Skirball Museum and the expansion of the American Jewish Archives, with its Edwin Malloy Education Building and Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati Learning Center, to the renovation and expansion of the Klau Library, with its new Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati Pavilion. Students now benefit from improve- ments to the Hermann Learning Center (classroom building) and the Suzanne and Jerry Teller Student Lounge while administration and visiting high school and college students enjoy the updates to the Sisterhood Dormitory.

An ardent advocate for expanding the professional development curriculum, he instituted Clinical Pas- toral Education (CPE) as a requirement for all rabbinical students, and accreditation of the Cincinnati campus as a CPE training site (the only rabbinical seminary in the world with ACPE accreditation). He also established on-site training and supervision in Jewish Education; initiated the Liturgical Arts program; and created the Mayerson Field Work Seminar, which provides on-going mentoring of bi-weekly pulpit student interns by congregational rabbis. Under his watch, learners of all faiths engaged in learning through the Academy for Adult Interfaith Studies and other academic and cultural outreach programs.

Ehrlich: “The advancement of the Cincinnati campus as a haven for students, faculty, and visiting scholars, and scholarship has been a team project, blessed by the support of visionary lay and corporate leaders in partnership with the faculty and adminis- tration. It is an honor to continue to work closely with the President, his administrative team, and the Board to secure and allocate the resources that will ensure our financial sustainability and continued academic excellence. Amid the rapid changes around us, our mission is to prepare our students to help make this a better world.”

Dr. Jonathan Cohen
Dean, HUC-JIR/Cincinnati

Read law, University of Kent, Canterbury
Ph.D. (Law), University of Liverpool
Associate Professor in Talmud and Halachic Literature Director, HUC-UC Ethics Center
Editor, Studies in Jewish Commercial Law

The appointment of Dr. Jonathan Cohen, a native Israeli, as the dean of the Cincinnati campus represents a new era of vibrant leadership for the birthplace of Reform Judaism in America and an internationally renowned center of Jewish scholarship and religious life. As Dean, he will continue to enhance the campus’s stellar academic programs, further develop HUC-JIR’s flourishing partnerships with the academic and religious institutionsof Cincinnati, and implement his passionate commitment to fully integratethis campus into the larger Cincinnati community and the region.

Cohen: “Our Cincinnati campus is a historic and vibrant center for the education and training of liberal Judaism’s future leaders and the education of scholars of all faiths. Its faculty includes nationally and internationally recognized scholars in a variety of fields of Jewish and interfaith studies, its Klau Library and the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives constitute one of the finest research collections and facilities in Judaica and Hebraica in the world, and its Archaeology Center and Skirball Museum display hundreds of remarkable artifacts collected over the past century. Our task is to build upon our strengths and successes in advancing the mission of the College-Institute and to enhance our programs in Cincinnati. We have a mandate to raise the profile of this campus as a center of study and inno- vation, adding sustenance to the life of our greater academic community and transforming the religious and cultural experience of Jews and non- Jews in our region and beyond. I’m here to make sure that our programs grow, our collaborations with other institutions in this city advance, that we do the best job we can in training the next generation of leaders for this Jewish community, and that we make sure that Jewish scholarship and research advances to unknown frontiers in the years to come.”

Cantor Ellen Dreskin
Coordinator of the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music Cantorial Certification Program

M.A., Jewish Communal Service, Brandeis University (1979)
Investiture, HUC-JIR/DFSSM (1986)
Associate Dean, HUC-JIR/New York (1998-2002)
Director of Programs, Synagogue 2000 ( 2002-2006)

“Cantor Ellen Dreskin’s energy, decades of experience, and vision are just what we need to make the Cantorial Certification Program a success,” says Cantor Bruce Ruben, Director of the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music. This new program, beginning in January 2013, will enable cantorial soloists in Reform congregations to enhance their skills, expand their knowledge of Jewish music, liturgy, Hebrew, text, and Reform Jewish philosophy and practice, and earn Cantorial Certification while continuing to live and work in their current communities.

Cantor Dreskin’s innovative expertise extends from music and synagogue transformation to experiential education, enlivened liturgy, and mysticism. She has worked with Jews of all denominations throughout the United States, both as a scholar-in-residence and in her work for Syna- gogue 2000, a national institute dedicated to revitalizing and re-energizing synagogue life in North America. The native Texan has served as cantor and educator for con- gregations in Cleveland and New York, and has taught for many years on the faculty of URJ Summer Kallot, Hava Nashira, and the URJ Kutz Camp Leadership Academy.

Dreskin: “I believe that strong attachment and iden- tification to one’s Judaism begins in the heart, and that a prime responsibility of the cantor is to use music to en- gage one’s soul, as well as one’s mind, in Jewish pursuits. Today’s cantors must be artists, songleaders, teachers, counselors, and spiritual leaders, on and off the bima, as they enhance liturgy, Torah, ritual, counseling, issues of social justice, and even synagogue administration.”

Rabbi Julie S. Schwartz
Jay Stein Director of Clinical Pastoral Education and Pastoral Care, HUC-JIR/Cincinnati

B.A., Modern History, Northwestern University (1981)
Ordination, HUC-JIR/Cincinnati (1986)
Director of Alumni Relations and National Director of Continuing Rabbinic Education, HUC-JIR (1989-1999)
Certified Supervisor, Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (1997)

Following her ordination, Rabbi Julie Schwartz became the first woman rabbi to serve as a chaplain in the United States military. Her three active-duty years were spent at the Naval Hospital in Oakland, CA, developing her pastoral care skills as well as providing leadership for the Jewish military community of Northern California, for which she earned the Naval Commendation award.

In the early 1990s, she established the only CPE program in the world affiliated with a rabbinical school as well as initiated the Mayerson mentoring program. While based in Atlanta, she was the founding rabbi for the Weinstein Hospice; rabbi of Temple B’nai Israel and Temple Emanu-El, and taught in Atlanta’s Melton School and at Emory University. She served on the boards of the trans-denominational National Association for Jewish Chaplains, chairing its Certification Commission, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, and was the Treasurer and Vice President of the Atlanta Rabbinical Association.

Schwartz: “Since I left HUC-JIR in 1999 and until my return in June 2011, I had the challenge and the privilege to ‘practice what I had preached’ through my work in small and large congregations as well as my teaching and serving as a hospice chaplain. I am energized to share once again with our students this integration of theory and practice. I believe that every activity in the rabbinate is a pastoral event and that each encounter is an opportunity to meet the Holy within our world.”

Kristine Henricksen Garroway
Visiting Assistant Professor of Bible, HUC-JIR/Los Angeles

Ph.D., Hebrew Bible and Cognate Studies, HUC-JIR/Cincinnati (2009)
Archaeological Excavations at Ashkelon, Tel Dor, and Tel Dan
Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture Doctoral Dissertation Grant
Scheuer Dissertation Fellowship for Archaeological Research in Israel

For the second time in its 136-year history as the oldest institution of higher Jewish learning in North America, HUC-JIR has a husband and wife teaching at the same time. Dr. Kristine Garroway has joined the faculty of the Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles, where her husband, Rabbi Joshua Garroway, is Assistant Professor of Early Christianity and Second Commonwealth and newly named to the Rabbi Michael Matuson Professorship for an Emerging Scholar.

Dr. Garroway’s doctoral dissertation explored “The Not- Yet-Adult: The Construction of ’Child’ in the Ancient Near East: Towards an Understanding of the Legal and Social Sta- tus of Children in Biblical Israel and Surrounding Cultures.” Her scholarly interests include Deuteronomistic Histories, Former Prophets, feminist and gender studies, and archaeol- ogy. She applies her contemporary grasp of literary, religious, and archaeological Biblical civilization to her teaching of HUC-JIR’s rabbinical students as well as undergraduates at the Louchheim School of Judaic Studies, in partnership with the University of Southern California.

The only known previous couple to teach at HUC-JIR simultaneously was Hildegaard and Julius Lewy, who arrived in Cincinnati from Berlin in 1938 among the scholars rescued out of Nazi Germany by HUC-JIR. They taught Akkadian (an extinct Semitic language), Bible, and Ancient Near Eastern History.

Garroway: “My students are engaging, friendly, and inquisitive, frequently stopping by my office to ask more questions about something we learned in class and giving me the opportunity to get to know them in a non-classroom setting, something I value. The faculty is very warm, supportive, and collegial, which fosters an environment where I feel comfortable sharing research 9 ideas or asking for advice on how to best teach a certain subject. I count myself fortunate to be a part of this campus community.”

Yoram Bitton
Librarian, Klau Library, HUC-JIR/New York

Agraduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem with a degree in Talmud and Jewish History and a Master of Library Science degree from Queens College of the City University of New York, Yoram Bitton heads the New York branch of HUC-JIR’s library net- work. Together with the Klau Library in Cincinnati, Frances-Henry Library in Los Ange- les, and Abramov Library in Jerusalem, this network is recognized as the second largest Jewish library in the world. The Klau Library in New York holds over 130,000 volumes and is especially rich in Hebrew literature, Jewish history and thought, rabbinics, and Jewish music. Its collection includes sound recordings, sheet music, and microfilms in the Can- tor Walter Davidson Music Resource Center, which is a significant resource for the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music students, faculty, and other researchers. Through a coop- erative relationship with New York University, students at HUC-JIR and NYU have reciprocal access at both institutions’ libraries.

Bitton: “My goal is to ensure that students, faculty, and scholars find the books and resources they need for their academic pursuits in a warm, welcoming environment that serves as the heart of the HUC-JIR community.”

Rabbi Joshua Garroway, C ’03, Ph.D.
Rabbi Michael Matuson Professorship for an Emerging Scholar

Dr. Joshua Garroway first came to HUC-JIR as a rabbinical student in Cincinnati and returned to serve as a member of the faculty at the Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles. As Assistant Professor of Early Christianity and Second Commonwealth, his scholarly interests include Jewish identity in the ancient world, the origins of Christianity, Jewish-Christian relations in late antiquity, and postmodern historiography.

Originally from Rochester, New York, Joshua Garroway graduated summa cum laude from Duke University (1998) with an A.B. in Religion. Following ordination, he earned his Ph.D. in New Testament Studies at Yale University (2008). His dissertation, “Neither Jew Nor Gentile, But Both: Paul’s Christians As ‘Gentile-Jews,’” explored the ways in which Paul’s epistle to the Romans constructs Jewish identity, and the role of Paul’s discourse in the ensuing emergence of Christianity.

“The expression of confidence in my scholarship and teaching reflected in my appointment to the Matuson Professorship makes me all the more excited about the future,” says Rabbi Garroway. “It is humbling to be a part of the able junior faculty, which, I am delighted to say, now includes my wife Kristine Garroway.”

Since arriving at the Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles in 2008, Rabbi Garroway has taught introductory courses in Mishnah, Midrash, and Christianity, and electives examining the emergence of Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism in the first five centuries. He also teaches undergraduate courses in Jewish history and biblical literature for HUC-JIR’s Louchheim School, in partnership with the University of Southern California.

The Rabbi Michael Matuson Professorship for an Emerging Scholar was inaugurated at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati in 2003 by Cynthia G. and Dan Edelman, in honor of Rabbi Michael Matuson, C ’ 84. Dr. Garroway succeeds Dr. Jonathan Cohen, Dean and Associate Professor of Talmud and Halachic Literature, in holding the Matuson Professorship.

Dr. Sharon F. Koren
Dr. Norman J. Cohen Chair for an Emerging Scholar

As an expert in kabbalah and gender studies who brings the perspective of modern Orthodox Judaism, Dr. Sharon Koren has created a unique place for herself on HUC-JIR’s pluralistic faculty. She is the worthy inaugural holder of the Dr. Norman J. Cohen Chair for an Emerging Scholar.

Associated with the faculty since 2001, Dr. Koren is Associate Professor of Medieval Jewish Culture at HUC-JIR/New York. She received her Ph.D. (1999) and M.A. (1991) from Yale University. She recently published The Menstruant in Medieval Jewish Mysticism (Brandeis University Press) and is currently conducting research for a book on the Matriarchs in the Zohar. In addition to her extensive writings and papers presented at conferences, Dr. Koren has served as an academic consultant for an NEH-funded television series relating to the subjects of mysticism and monotheism.

“There is something extremely special about teaching HUC-JIR students and about teaching texts in a seminary, where not only do the students have the ability to read the texts in the original language, but also truly care about their contents,” she says. “What we teach here does not get confined to a notebook or computer file, but rather is really important in the spiritual lives of our students and in the spiritual lives of their congregants.”

Established in 2010, the Dr. Norman J. Cohen Chair for an Emerging Scholar honors Dr. Cohen, N ‘71, Professor of Midrash, for his distinguished service as Provost of the College-Institute (1995-2009). During his tenure as HUC-JIR’s chief academic officer, he revitalized the faculty through the appointment of over 20 emerging scholars, established retreats and introduced e-technology to integrate faculty and teaching across HUC-JIR’s four campuses, advanced curriculum for all programs, intensified professional leadership development, and instituted student assessment processes.

Rabbi Samuel K. Joseph, C ’76
Eleanor Sinsheimer Distinguished Service Professorship in Jewish Religious Education

“It is a privilege to teach the next generation of professional leaders or the Jewish community,” says Rabbi Samuel K. Joseph, Professor of Jewish Education and Leadership Development at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati. “Their passion, energy, and creativity are pure signs of hope for a thriving Jewish community in the future.”

The author of four books and more than fifty articles in the area of education and leadership, Rabbi Joseph is past chair of the Cincinnati faculty, national co-chair of the HUC-JIR and CCAR Institute for Rabbinic Mentoring, and co-chair of the Reform Movement’s Task Force for Goals of Life-Long Learning. He represents HUC-JIR on the executive of the Joint Rabbinical Placement Commission and the Joint Educators Placement Commission, on the Reform Movement’s Think Tank, and on the Commission Granting the Reform Jewish Educator Title.

“My work with lay leaders and congregations all over the world – from North and South America to Australia and New Zealand to Germany and Holland to Hong Kong (where I helped found the Reform congregation) and Asia – feed directly back to my HUC-JIR students in the classroom,” he explains. “Innovation and change, strategic planning, leadership development, board workshops, team building, and program evaluation are a few of the key areas in which I work. I draw upon what congregations face and help my students begin to reflect on these core issues as they prepare for their future roles in dealing with these same challenges.”

Rabbi Joseph directs the Reform Day School Externship program, a joint effort of HUC-JIR, the URJ, and PARDeS. He also partners with Xavier University in Cincinnati on their M.Ed. program in Educational Administration. He was one of the first HUC-JIR faculty members to teach a “for credit” online course as part of the new Executive M.A. Program in Jewish Education.

Now in his 32nd year with HUC-JIR, Rabbi Joseph hopes to sustain the values and commitment of the Eleanor Sinsheimer Distinguished Professorship’s previous holder, Dr. Paul M. Steinberg, z”l, who served as a member of the faculty and Vice President at HUC-JIR for over five decades.

“I view my professorship – my rabbinate – at HUC-JIR as one of service: service to my students as I try to prepare them to lead our people; service to HUC-JIR as I try to help our institution grow and prosper as the premier center for Jewish thought and practice; and service to our Reform Movement world-wide as I work with leaders and congregations so they can be most effective as they fulfill their mission and reach for their vision.



“The Jim Joseph Foundation Education Initiative (JJF-EI) has launched an unprecedented set of new programs and initiatives this year that will dramatically increase the number of highly qualified Jewish educators and strengthen their capacity to provide compelling experiences of Jewish learning to youth, teens, and young adults,”
says Dr. Michael Zeldin, Director of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education and JJF-EI Project Leader.

“All of these endeavors contribute to the fulfillment of the College-Institute’s mission to prepare the next generation of professional leaders for the Jewish community,”
explains Dr. Rob Weinberg, JJF-EI Project Manager.

The Executive MA Program in Jewish Education (EMA) launched its first cohort of sixteen students — Jewish educators with at least five years of experience in leadership positions in the field serving Reform Jewish students and families in a range of settings across North America, including congregations, central agencies for Jewish education, Hillels, and local federations. The program’s admissions process included participation in a seven-week online course in Jewish Educational Leadership, co-taught by Rabbi Samuel K. Joseph, Sinsheimer Distinguished Service Professor in Jewish Religious Education, and Dr. Adriane Leveen, Senior Lecturer in Hebrew Bible and Judaica Specialist – JJF-EI, which cemented the applicants’ decisions to apply to and accept their places in the program.

The EMA program consists of a combination of on-campus intensive courses, face-to-face meetings, online courses (supported by the Department of eLearning), clinical mentoring, and a seminar in Israel. The EMA is designed so that students will study at all four campuses. “EMA students come to their learning with experience and a seriousness of purpose that has both excited and challenged faculty members,” says Lesley Litman, EMA Coordinator. “Each course, while closely related to existing courses in the residential MA programs, has been redesigned to ensure successful online or “intensive format” learning and fulfill the unique needs of the EMA students.”

The Certificate Program in Jewish Education for Adolescents and Emerging Adults “is designed to increase the capacity of adults who work with adolescents and young adults to provide compelling experiences of Jewish learning and living while at the same time responding to the specific developmental needs of this population,” says Rabbi Melissa Zalkin Stollman, NYSOE ’08, N ’10, Certificate Program Coordinator. “The sixteen students participating in this innovative program are working for congregations, NFTY, camps, and other Jewish nonprofit organizations such as the Institute for Southern Jewish Life.” More than 80 youth workers inquired about the program, which features online courses, weekend onsite intensives, a 10-day winter institute, an action project, and mentoring by veteran youth professionals. Coursework focuses on the areas of adolescent development, experiential learning, program planning, change theory, social media, the arts, and service learning. Each student is mentored throughout the program to help translate their classroom learning to their workplace.

The Induction and Retention Initiative is designed to provide support for new graduates of HUC-JIR’s residential MA programs in Los Angeles and New York as they transition from school to work, and then to continue to support and encourage them to thrive in the field throughout their careers. A think tank of faculty, alumni, lay and professional congregational leaders, and members from the National Association of Temple Educators and the Union for Reform Judaism was convened to explore these issues for graduates of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education and New York School of Education. A survey of alumni of the classes of 2008-2010 was completed to determine what has enabled successful induction for recent graduates. “Retention of alumni in the field of Jewish education includes more than just helping them continue to be employed in the field of Jewish education,” explains Deborah Niederman, RJE, RHSOE ’93, Coordinator of the Induction and Retention Initiative. “Retention involves helping them maintain a visionary mindset, encouraging their continuous professional growth, and inspiring them to seek out new challenges.”

The Jewish Early Childhood Education Leadership Institute, a joint project with the Jewish Theological Seminary, in consultation with the Bank Street College of Education, will be launched in the Spring of 2012. This new program will prepare participants to lead high quality early childhood programs that bring together best practices in Jewish education and early childhood education.

HUC-JIR in Print*

Pledges of Jewish Allegiance: Conversion, Law, and Policy-Making in Nineteenth-and Twentieth-Century Orthodox Responsa
David Ellenson, N ’77, and Daniel Gordis
Stanford University Press, 2012

By examining a wide array of legal opinions written by Orthodox Rabbis in 19th-and 20th-century Europe, the U.S., and Israel on what constitutes legitimate conversion to Judaism, this book argues that these rabbis’ divergent positions – precedents – demonstrate that they were crafting public policy for Jewish society in response to Jews’ social and political interactions as equals with non-Jewish persons in whose midst they dwelled.

Learned Ignorance: Intellectual Humility among Jews, Christians, and Muslims
Edited by James Heft, Reuven Firestone, N ’82, and Omid Safi
Oxford University Press, 2011

The Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies brought to- gether an international group of sixteen Jewish, Catholic, and Muslim scholars to carry on an important theological exploration of the theme of ”learned ignorance.” This volume features the first dialogue among Christians, Muslims, and Jews on intellectual humility and knowledge of God, and the first non-mystical study of the concept of “learned ignorance.”

The JPS Bible Commentary: Ruth
Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Tikva Frymer-Kensky
The Jewish Publication Society, 2011

A critical, line-by-line commentary of the biblical text of Ruth, with its themes of loyalty, loving kindness (hesed), and redemption, in its original Hebrew, complete with vocalization and cantillation marks, as well as the 1985 JPS English translation.
Awarded the 2011 National Jewish Book Award.

The International Handbook of Jewish Education
Edited by Helena Miller, Lisa D. Grant, and Alex Pomson
Springer, 2011

This two volume publication brings together scholars and practitioners engaged in the field of Jewish Education and its cognate fields world-wide and features articles by members of the HUC-JIR faculty.

Laws in the Bible and in Early Rabbinic Collections: The Legal Legacy of the Ancient Near East
Samuel Greengus
Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2011

This volume seeks to examine within a single study all of the biblical laws that are similar in content with ancient Near Eastern laws from Sumer, Babylonia, Assyria, and Hatti, and analyzes a small but important group of early rabbinic laws from postbiblical times that exhibit significant similarities with laws found in the ancient Near Eastern collections or “codes.”

Forsaken: The Menstruant in Medieval Jewish Mysticism
Sharon Faye Koren
Brandeis University Press, 2011

Why are there no known female mystics in medieval Judaism, unlike contemporaneous movements in Christianity and Islam? Koren demonstrates that the medieval Jewish male mystics increasingly emphasized that the changing states of the female body between ritual purity and impurity disqualified women from the quest for mystical connection with God.

All These Vows: Kol Nidre
Edited by Lawrence A. Hoffman, N ’69, Ph.D. ‘73
Jewish Lights Publishing, 2011

Over thirty contributors – men and women, scholars and rabbis, artists and poets spanning three continents and all major Jewish denominations – examine Kol Nidre’s theology, usage, history, and deeply personal impact.

The Benderly Boys & American Jewish Education
Jonathan B. Krasner
Brandeis University Press, 2011

Samson Benderly sought to modernize Jewish education by professionalizing the field, creating an immigrant-based, progressive supplementary school model, and spreading the mantra of community responsibility for Jewish education. Benderly trained a younger generation of teachers, principals, and bureau leaders, who, from the 1920s to the 1970s, were the dominant force in Jewish formal and informal education in the United States.
Awarded the 2011 National Jewish Book Award.

One Hundred Great Jewish Books: Three Millennia of Jewish Conversation
Lawrence A. Hoffman, N ’69, Ph.D. ‘73
Bluebridge, 2011

This guide allows readers to listen in on the Jewish conversation across many centuries— from the Hebrew Bible and the rabbinic masterpieces to the pressing subjects of the early 21st century, in great works of biography, spirituality, theology, poetry, fiction, history, and political theory, with a special focus on modern American Jewish life, the Holocaust, and the founding of the State of Israel.

On Wings of Awe: A Fully Translated Machzor for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur
Richard Levy, C ‘64
KTAV Publishing, 2011

Transliterations of every Hebrew prayer, poetic translations and interpretations of all sections of the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services, personal prayers, and suggested text study are offered to help worshippers find their own pathway to prayer.

Parashat HaMayim: Immersion in Water as an Opportunity for Renewal and Spiritual Growth
Edited by Rabbi Tamar Duvdevani, J ’02, Rabbi Maya Lebovic, J ’93, Rabbi Alona Lisitsa, J ’04, and Rabbi Dr. Dalia Marx, J ‘02
Hakibbutz Hameuchad, 2011

This book seeks to examine and understand the ancient commandment of immersion and the time-honored institution of mikva, and contains texts, prayers, songs, and articles that deal with immersion from diverse points of view.

Jewish Education in England, 1944-1988: Between Integration and Separation
David S. Mendelsson
Peter Land AG International Academic Publishers, 2011

This book explains the radical reconfiguring of Jewish education as reflecting both changes in the socioeconomic profile and self-identity of Anglo-Jewry as well as demographic and cultural changes in British society in general and maps the effect of competing societal, personal, and communal agendas, pedagogic paradigms, and pragmatic constraints on the rise of the Jewish day school in England.

Max Lilienthal: The Making of the American Rabbinate
Bruce L. Ruben
Wayne State University Press, 2011

When Congregation Bene Israel hired him to come to Cincinnati in 1854, Rabbi Max Lilienthal (1814-82) seized the opportunity to work with his friend Rabbi Isaac M. Wise to help forge the institutional foundations for the American Reform movement and create new institutions and leadership models to bring his immigrant community into the mainstream of American society.

Jewish Living: A Guide to Contemporary Reform Practice, Revised Edition
Mark Washofsky, C ’80, Ph.D. ‘87
URJ Press, 2010

This definitive guide for Reform Jewish practice leads the reader to an understanding of the whole of Jewish life – from blessing to b’nei mitzvah, Havdalah to haftarah, and tikkun olam to Tikkun Leil Shavuot. The revised edition features crossreferences to Mishkan T’filah and new sections on changes in the movement over the last decade, including same-sex marriage, conversion, bioethics, and justification of war.

Reform Response for the Twenty-First Century: Sh’eilot Ut’shuvot
Volume 1: 1996-1999/5756-5769
Volume 2: 1999-2007/5769-5777
Edited by Mark Washofsky, C ’80, Ph.D. ‘87
CCAR Press, 2010

Drawing from the breadth of traditional and modern Jewish texts, law, and ideology, this two-volume set addresses over seventy contemporary topics, including conversion of adopted children, fertility treatments, patrilineal descent, issues of synagogue management, social justice activism, interfaith marriage, and rituals of death and mourning.

The Collection of Samaritan Manuscripts in the Klau Library of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Catalogued and Authored by Binyamin Tsedaka
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, 2011

This volume 16 of Bibliographica Judaica, the bibliographic series of the HUC-JIR Library, provides special insight into the bibliography of the Samaritan people with complete descriptions of the Klau Library’s collection of sixty-one manuscripts.

Tel ‘Aroer: The Iron Age II Caravan Town and the Hellenistic-Early Roman Settlement
The Avraham Biran (1975-1982) and Rudolph Cohen (1975-1976) Excavations
Text and Plates by Yifat Thareani
General Editor David Ilan
Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archeology, HUC-JIR, 2011

This final excavation report describes and interprets the archaeological findings from Aroer, a fortified trade entrepot and administrative center in the northern Negev, on the desert route between Edom and the Mediterranean coast, where Edomites, Judahites, Assyrians and local Bedouin interacted at a meeting place informed by commerce. The findings date to the Iron Age. (First Temple Period, ca. 800-586 BCE) and the Roman Period (Herod and the procurators, ca. 50 BCE-100 CE)

Dan III: Avraham Biran Excavations, 1966-1999, The Late Bronze Age
Rachel Ben-Dov
Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archeology, HUC-JIR, 2011

This report of the findings from the Late Bronze Age (ca. 1500-1200 BCE) from Tel Dan, a flourishing town under the influence of neighboring Hazor, visited by Egyptians, Mycenaeans and Syrians – merchants, soldiers and emissaries – includes a detailed account of the ceramics, including ware imported from Cyprus, Greece and Egypt, stone, bone and metal objects, and the metallurgy industry.

Hebrew Union College Annual, Volume 79
Edward A. Goldman, C ’69, Ph.D. ’74, Editor
Richard S. Sarason C ’74, Associate Editor
Dedicated to the Memory of Rabbi Bruno Italiener (1881-1956), z’’l

Articles by leading international scholars illuminate the cutting-edge in contemporary Jewish studies in this journal that is HUC-JIR’s primary face to the academic world.

American Jewish Archives Journal, Volume 62, No. 2 (2010)

Articles illuminating the musical career of a Jewish American “Cantor Soprano,” Yeshiva College’s student journalists, and the emergence of Jewish healthcare chaplaincy.

American Jewish Archives Journal, Volume 63, No. 1 (2011)

Articles exploring the “Jewish history” of Thomas Jefferson’s compilation of the New Testament, the career of Rabbi/ Cantor William Sparger, and analysis of a writ of release from a Levirate marriage in 1807 Charleston.

* Published December 2010-January 2012


Dr. David H. Aaron, C ’83, Professor of Hebrew Bible & History of Interpretation, was a Fellow at the Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan, which focused on “Jewish Languages,” and advanced work on a book dealing with the history of the concept of Hebrew as a “holy language.”

Rabbi Richard Address, Rabbinic Internship Mentor, published “Seekers of Meaning: Baby Boomers, Judaism, and the Pursuit of Healthy Aging” with URJ Press.

Dr. Rachel R. Adler, Professor of Modern Jewish Thought and Feminist Studies, finished her article, “Rabbinic Dirges and the Voices of Women in Lament,” for a festschrift for Professor Tamara Cohn Eskenazi.

Dr. Isa E. Aron, Professor of Jewish Education, published “The Congregational School” in the International Handbook of Jewish Education, edited by Lisa Grant, Helena Miller, and Alex Pomson (New York: Springer, 2011).

Dr. Carole B. Balin, N ’91Professor of Jewish History, co-curated “Bat Mitzvah Comes of Age,” a national traveling exhibition that tells the story of pioneering bat mitzvah girls who took to the bima and changed Jewish life, a project of Moving Traditions and the National Museum of American Jewish History, which is launching at the JCC of Manhattan.

Rachel Ben-Dov, Senior Researcher, Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology, published “Craft Workshops at Tel Dan,” in Eretz-Israel (Amnon Ben-Tor Volume) 30 (Israel Exploration Society, Jerusalem, 2011.)

Dr. Sarah Bunin Benor, Associate Professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies, edited a special issue of the academic journal Language and Communication on “Jewish Languages in the Age of the Internet,” including her article “Mensch, Bentsh, and Balagan: Variation in the American Jewish Linguistic Repertoire.”

Dr. Eugene Borowitz, C ’48, Ph.D. ’52, Distinguished University Professor; Sigmund Falk Distinguished Professor of Education and Jewish Religious Thought, came to the College-Institute in August 1962 and thus, at the conclusion of this year’s spring semester, will have completed 50 years of full time teaching – 100 semesters – at HUC-JIR.

Gerald Bubis, M.S.W., Founding Director, School for Jewish Nonprofit Management and Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk Professor Emeritus of Jewish Communal Studies, had an annual lectureship in his honor established at his synagogue Valley Beth Shalom, together with Americans For Peace Now, in honor of his role in working for Middle East peace since 1982.

Dr. Jonathan Cohen, Dean, HUC-JIR/Cincinnati, and Associate Professor of Talmud and Halakhic Literature, presented a paper titled “Conversion, Liberal Judaism, and Jewish Identity” during the panel “Church and State in a Jewish and Democratic Nation” at a symposium at Hebrew University in Jerusalem in honor of the 100th anniversary to Haim H. Cohn’s birth.

Dr. Martin A. Cohen, C ’57, Ph.D. ’60, Professor of Jewish History, was honored by the American Friends of the Jewish Museum of Greece, who bestowed upon him their Spiritual Leader Award.

Dr. Steven M. Cohen, Research Professor of Jewish Social Policy, received the degree of Doctor of Hebrew Letters, honoris causa, from the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies on March 27, 2011.

Dr. Michael Chernick, Deutsch Professor of Jewish Jurisprudence and Social Work, presented “On the Teaching of Talmud: Neusner, Brisk, and the Stam,” during the Working Paper Series with the Mandel Center for Jewish Education at Brandeis University.

Dr. Michael J. Cook, N ’70, Ph.D. ’75, Bronstein Professor of Judeo-Christian Studies, delivered a six-lecture series at Limmud-UK (Warwick University, Coventry, England, December 2010) on Christian art, Christian drama, medieval misapplications of the Bible, Evangelical theology, the Book of Judges and ancient priesthoods, and “British Jews at the Crossroads.”

Dr. William Cutter, C ’65, Founding Director, Kalsman Institute on Judaism & Health and Steinberg Professor Emeritus of Human Relations, published an article in The Sacred Table: Creating a Jewish Food Ethic (CCAR Press).

Rabbi Jerome K. Davidson, C ’58, National Coordinator of Leadership Initiatives and Adjunct Professor of Professional Development, served as Scholar-in-Residence at Temple Beth El in Charlotte, NC, in commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the yahrzeit of Rabbi Alexander M. Schindler.

Dr. Susan L. Einbinder, N ’83, Professor of Hebrew Literature, presented “Seeing the Blind: Trauma and Poetry in Medieval Ashkenaz,” a workshop on Medieval Hebrew poetry, at Stanford University’s Taube Center for Jewish Studies.

Dr. David Ellenson, N ’77, President and Grancell Professor of Jewish Religious Thought, published “Colleagues and Friends: Letters between Rabbi Samuel Belkin and Rabbi William G. Braude” in Continuity and Change: A Festschrift in Honor of Irving (Yitz) Greenberg’s 75th Birthday, eds. Steven T. Katz and Steven Bayme.

Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi, Professor of Bible, was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities grant for her project, “Out from the Shadows: Biblical Women in the Persian Period (6th-4th Centuries BCE).”

Dr. Reuven Firestone, N ’82, Professor of Medieval Judaism and Islam, was invited to be the keynote speaker and present “A Global View of Religious Violence in Scriptural Monotheisms” at the international conference, “The Root Causes of Terrorism: A Religious Studies Perspective,” at the Leiden Institute for Religious Studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

Dr. Nili S. Fox, Director, School of Graduate Studies, and Professor of Bible, published “A Bone Carved Calendar” in Yifat Thareani, Tel ’Aroer: The Iron Age II Caravan Town and the Hellenistic-Early Roman Settlement (Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology, HUC-JIR, 2011).

Dr. Joshua D. Garroway, C ’03, Rabbi Michael Matuson Professorship for an Emerging Scholar and Assistant Professor of Early Christianity and Second Commonwealth, published “The Law-Observant Lord: John Chrysostom’s Engagement with the Jewishness of Christ,” Journal of Early Christian Studies 18:4 (Winter 2010).

Dr. David J. Gilner, Ph.D. ’89, Director of Libraries, served on a National Endowment for the Humanities panel judging fellowship applications.

Dr. Edward Goldman, C ’69, Ph.D. ’74, Bettan Professor Emeritus in Midrash and Homiletics, chaired a panel discussion on a new book edited by Zev Garber on The Jewish Jesus at the Society of Biblical Literature conference.

Dr. Lisa D. Grant, Associate Professor of Jewish Education, presented the keynote speech on “Reaching and Teaching Jewish Adults” at the annual conference for the Alliance for Continuing Rabbinic Education.

Dr. Alyssa Gray, Associate Professor of Codes and Responsa Literature, published “Redemptive Almsgiving and the Rabbis of Late Antiquity” in Jewish Studies Quarterly 18:2 (2011).

Dr. Leah Hochman, Director, Louchheim School for Judaic Studies, and Assistant Professor of Jewish Thought, presented her paper on “In/Hospitality: Abraham, Lot and the Post-Apocalyptic World” at the international conference “The Hospitable Text: New Approaches to Religion and Literature,” held in London at the Notre Dame Conference Center.

Dr. Lawrence A. Hoffman, N ’69, Ph.D. ’73, Friedman Professor of Liturgy, Worship, and Ritual, received an honorary doctorate from Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in recognition of his work in worship, ritual, and synagogue transformation.

Dr. Joshua Holo, Dean, HUC-JIR/Jack H. Skirball Campus/Los Angeles, and Associate Professor of Jewish History, published “Byzantine-Jewish Ethnography: A Consideration of the Sefer Yosippon in Light of Gerson Cohen’s ‘Esau as Symbol in Early Medieval Thought’” in Jews in Byzantium: Dialectics of Minority and Majority Cultures, ed. R. Bonfil, et al. (Brill, 2012).

Rabbi Shirley Idelson, N ’91, Dean, HUC-JIR/New York and Director, Graduate Studies, earned her Master of Philosophy degree in History from the City University of New York Graduate Center and is working on her Ph.D. dissertation on the history of the Jewish Institute of Religion, under advisement of Dr. Robert Seltzer, C ’61.

Dr. Samuel K. Joseph, C ’76, Eleanor Sinsheimer Distinguished Service Professor of Jewish Education and Leadership Development, is the National Co-Chair of the New Goals for Life Long Learning of the Reform Movement.

Dr. Jason Kalman, Gottschalk-Slade Chair in Jewish Intellectual History, published “Heckling the Divine: Woody Allen, The Book of Job, and Jewish Theology After the Holocaust” in Leonard Greenspoon, ed., Jews and Humor (West Lafayette: Purdue University Press, 2011).

Dr. Adam Kamesar, Professor of Judaeo-Hellenistic Literature, was interviewed about Philo of Alexandria for “God Talk” on KGO radio in San Francisco, hosted by Brent Walters.

Dr. Kenneth Kanter, C ’80, Director, Rabbinical School, HUC-JIR/Cincinnati, conducted High Holy Day services at Kehillat Beijing, China.

Professor Jo Kay, Director, New York School of Education, is the Co-Chair of the Teen Engagement Task Force of the URJ’s Commission on Lifelong Learning, which has produced several documents for congregational use, including a “Planning Guide for Teen Engagement,” available on the URJ website.

Sandra Kazan, Voice and Speech Coach, published “Voice and the Rabbi: The Art of Delivering a Sermon” in the CCAR Journal.

Rabbi Naamah Kelman, J ’92, Dean, HUC-JIR/Jerusalem, published an article on “The Daughters of Zelophehad” in an Israeli anthology on Social Justice.

Lori Klein, MSW, MAJCS, SJNM ’91 Associate Director, School of Jewish Nonprofit Management, gave a presentation and facilitated a workshop entitled “L’Dor V’Dor: How Lay Leadership Can Be Generationally Savvy” at The Jewish Federation Valley Alliance Women’s Department Leadership Summit.

Dr. Mark Kligman, Professor of Jewish Musicology, presented “Singing Arab Melodies in the Synagogue: The Music and Culture of Syrian Jews in Brooklyn” as part of the Nazir Ali Jairazbhoy Colloquium Series, presented by the Mickey Katz Chair in Jewish Music at UCLA, UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music,and UCLA Center for Jewish Studies.

Dr. Sharon Koren, Associate Professor of Medieval Jewish Culture, co-led the session Introduction to Beit Midrash by the Sea at the annual conference of the Women’s Rabbinic Network, “Fire and Water: Passion and Renewal.”

Dr. Jonathan Krasner, Associate Professor of the American Jewish Experience, served as Conference Chair of the Network for Research in Jewish Education’s 25th annual conference at York University in Toronto.

Christopher Eli Kraus, JD, MTS, Visiting Instructor in Jewish Education, was selected as this year’s honoree from HUC-JIR/Cincinnati for the Celebration of Teaching Award, sponsored by the Greater Cincinnati Consortium of Colleges and Universities.

Dr. Adriane Leveen, Senior Lecturer in Hebrew Bible and Lead Judaica Specialist in the Jim Joseph Foundation Education Initiative, wrote “Returning the Body to its Place: Ezekiel’s Tour of the Temple,” forthcoming, Harvard Theological Review.

Rabbi Richard Levy, C ’64, Rabbi of Campus Synagogue, Jack H. Skirball Campus/Los Angeles, was one of the presenting scholars at Chadeish Yameinu, the CCAR’s three-day retreat on preparation for the High Holy Days.

Dr. Michael Marmur, J ’92, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Assistant Professor of Jewish Theology, published “Toward a New Jewish Theological Lexicon” in Jewish Theology in Our Time, edited by Elliot J. Cosgrove, Jewish Lights, 2010.

Dr. Dalia Marx, C/J ’03, Assistant Professor of Liturgy and Midrash, organized the international academic conference, “The Woman and the Temple: A Feminist Reading of the Talmud,” within the framework of the Feminist Commentary of the Babylonian Talmud Project, in memory of Professor Chana Safrai, z’’l.

Dr. David Mendelsson, Director of Israel Studies, published “Issues in Anglo-Jewish Education: Day Schools, State Funding, and Religious Education in State Schools,” in the International Handbook of Jewish Education, edited by Lisa Grant, Helena Miller, and Alex Pomson (New York: Springer, 2011).

Dr. Michael Meyer, Ph.D. ’64, Ochs Professor of Jewish History, delivered the Dorit and Gerald Paul Lectures, sponsored by Indiana University, on “‘True Honor is What We Gain for Ourselves:’ Maintaining Jewish Morale in Nazi Germany” and “The German-Jewish Legacy in America.”

Rabbi Stanley Nash, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Hebrew Literature, completed the translation, notes, and commentary for “We Have Not Reached God,” an essay by Chava Pinchas-Cohen on two poems by Admiel Kosman.

Dr. Aaron Panken, N ’91, Assistant Professor of Rabbinic and Second Temple Literature, was appointed Co-Chair of the Sabbath Group at the Society of Biblical Literature.

Dr. Bruce A. Phillips, Professor of Sociology and Jewish Communal Studies, presented “Using Local Jewish Community Studies for Academic Research,” at the Brandeis University conference, “Socio-Demography of American Jewry.”

Michele Prince, SJNM ’02, Director, Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health, presented “Building the Field of Judaism and Health” at the Kalsman Research Roundtable, which aims to build a scholarly foundation for work in Judaism, health, healing, and medicine.

Dr. Haim O. Rechnitzer, J ’03, Associate Professor of Jewish Thought, published an article dedicated to the mystical underpinnings of the poetry of Avraham Chalfi in the Journal of Modern Jewish Studies.

Dr. Evie Levy Rotstein, Project Director, The Leadership Institute: Shaping Congregational Leaders and Learners, was the visiting scholar to lead Professional Development for Educators in Albany and Virginia.

Dr. Richard Sarason, C ’74, Professor of Rabbinical Literature and Thought, completed the chapter, “The Past as Paradigm: Enactments of the Exodus Motif in Jewish Liturgy,” for Echoes of the Exodus in Jewish Tradition, co-edited by Dr. David W. Nelson, N ’80, and Pamela Barmesh.

Cantor Benjie Schiller, DFSSM ’87, Professor of Cantorial Arts, published her composition “You Are My Song” for choir, piano, and congregation, commissioned by HUC-JIR/New York’s 2009 rabbinical and cantorial classes. (Transcontinental Music Publications).

Dr. S. David Sperling, Professor of Bible, served as the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Distinguished Visiting Professor in Judaic Studies at the College of William and Mary, where he presented “War, Holy and Otherwise” and “Do Jews Really Study the Old Testament?”

Dr. Mark Washofsky, C ’80, Ph.D. ’87, Solomon B. Freehof Professor of Jewish Law and Practice, published “Torture, Terrorism, and the Halakhah,” in Walter Jacob, ed., War and Terrorism in Jewish Law. (Pittsburgh: Solomon B. Freehof Institute of Progressive Halakhah, 2010).

Dr. Dvora Weisberg, L ’11, Director, Rabbinical School, HUC-JIR/Jack H. Skirball Campus, HUC-JIR/Los Angeles, and Associate Professor of Rabbinical Literature, was ordained at HUC-JIR’s Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles.

Dr. Yaffa WeismanDirector, Frances-Henry Library and Adjunct Associate Professor of Modern Jewish Studies, received the USC Shoah Foundation Institute 2011 Faculty Summer Stipend to support new course creation or substantial revision to an existing course.

Dr. Andrea Weiss, N ’93, Assistant Professor of Bible, presented “Motives Behind Biblical Mixed Metaphors: Theology or Poetry?” at the Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting during a session on “Poetics as a Vehicle for Theology: The Medium, The Message.”

Rabbi Margaret Moers Wenig, N ’84, Lecturer in Liturgy and Homiletics, presented “‘Male and Female God Created Them?:’ The Intersex, Transgender, and Transsexual in Jewish Tradition,” at The Annual Women’s & Gender Studies Symposium, “Women and Religion,” at Rutgers University.

Rabbi Nancy H. Wiener, N ’90, D.Min. ’94, Clinical Director, Blaustein Center for Pastoral Counseling, was appointed the Dr. Paul M. and Trudy Steinberg Distinguished Professorship in Human Relations and Counseling at HUC-JIR/New York.

Dr. Steven F. Windmueller, Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk Chair Emeritus in Jewish Communal Service, published “From Tea Party to J Street: Jews and American Politics,” summarizing his research on Jewish political behavior and his recent study (April 2011), in the Journal of Jewish Communal Service.

Dr. Michael Zeldin, RHSOE ’77, Director, Rhea Hirsch School of Education, and Professor of Jewish Education, published “Reform Jewish Day Schools as Unique Reflections of Reform Judaism” in Prager Handbook of Faith-Based Schools in the United States (edited by James Carper and Thomas Hunt).

Dr. Wendy Zierler, Associate Professor of Modern Jewish Literature, was chosen to be a member of the North American Scholars Circle of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, and published two articles and gave the Gus and Libby Solomon Lecture at Portland State University in conjunction with this fellowship.

Dr. Tali Zelkowicz, RHSOE ’00, L ’02, Professor Sara S. Lee Chair for an Emerging Scholar in Jewish Education, published “Authoring, Authority, and Authenticity: The Storying of Jewish Education” in the March 2010 issue of Sh’ma: A Journal for Jewish Responsibility.

Dr. Gary P. Zola, C ’82, Ph.D. ’91, Director, American Jewish Archives, and Professor of the American Jewish Experience, was appointed by President Obama to the United States Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad.


The HUC-JIR community remembers the outstanding contributions of members of the administration and faculty, whose legacies of scholarship, teaching, mentorship, and leadership endure as a blessing, and esteemed members of the Board of Governors who served HUC-JIR with devotion.

Debbie Friedman, Instructor in Music, HUC-JIR/New York

Dr. Herbert Paper, Professor Emeritus of Linguistics and Near Eastern Languages, HUC-JIR/Cincinnati

Rabbi W. Gunther Plaut, C ’39, former President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and former member of the HUC-JIR Board of Governors

Dr. Ben Zion Wacholder, Solomon B. Freehof Professor of Jewish Law and Practice and Professor Emeritus of Talmud and Rabbinics, HUC-JIR/Cincinnati

Dr. David Weisberg, Professor of Bible and Semitic Languages, HUC-JIR/Cincinnati


Amanda Graizel
Year-In-Israel Student/Jerusalem

For first-year student Amanda Graizel, a rabbinical path is a foregone conclusion. She has a B.A. in Sociology, Holocaust, and Genocide Studies from Clark University, a second B.A. in Hebrew Letters, a Master’s in Jewish Education, and a certificate in Experiential Education from American Jewish University.

“The Year-In-Israel Program is a remarkable opportunity to delve deeply into Jewish text, Hebrew language, and Israel studies, both within and beyond the classroom,” she describes, “and my community service work is a centerpiece of my life.” Graizel is one of the student coordinators of the “Parallel Lives” program that links Israeli soldiers with Jews of the same age from around the world through monthly visits to army bases or events on the HUC-JIR campus in Jerusalem.

“My classmates and I have the opportunity to become more directly connected with my generation in Israel, while serving as ambassadors of liberal Judaism to young Israelis unfamiliar with the range of Jewish denominational identity in the Diaspora. We get to experience the real Israel, as lived by people close in age to us. These encounters strengthen our own individual relationships with the State of Israel, and inform the ways in which we will implement Israel education as Jewish professionals in North America.”

Rabbinical student Amanda Graizel and classmates in the Year-In-Israel Program engage with Israeli soldiers through the “Parallel Lives” program. 

Daniel Reiser
Year-In-Israel Student/Jerusalem

Growing up in the “small but mighty Jewish community of Tallahassee, FL,” first-year rabbinical student Daniel Reiser says, “my being one of the only Jewish kids in my grade gave me a sense of pride.” Some of his most formative Jewish experiences were at the URJ’s Camp Coleman where, from the age of eight on, he “liked the fact that all my friends were Jewish.”

After getting his B.A. in English at the University of Florida, Reiser moved to Atlanta, where he worked at the Hillel at Emory University and eventually became Senior Program Director. He staffed four Israel programs, including Birthright, NFTY in Israel, and the JAFI Summer Shlichim Seminar, while also getting training in Israel engagement at Jewish summer camps as a Fellow with the Legacy Heritage Fund and the Avi Chai Foundation.

In addition to his classes in Jersualem, Reiser is part of the Encounter Leadership Seminar, a cohort of emerging Jewish leaders who meet weekly to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The group is just as much about personal growth and reflection as it is about issues related to the conflict.

“By deeply examining myself, I’ve become better able to identify my core values related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and open myself up to my multi- ple, complex, and often conflicting feelings. The more I learn, the more complex the situation becomes. And the more I reflect, the more I’m able to accept that complexity and shape my decisions out of a deep love for the State of Israel and the Jewish people.”

Rabbinical student Daniel Reiser and a friend explore Israel’s desert landscape.

Kenneth Feibush
Year-In-Israel Student/Jerusalem

“Growing up close to New York, my temple had a constant flow of great student cantors from HUC- JIR,” recalls Kenneth Feibush. “Seeing their lives influenced my life.”

The Jewish values instilled in him by his parents and Temple Sholom in Fanwood, NJ, followed him to Rutgers University, where he was president of the Reform community at Hillel, and led him to seek a way to combine his passion for Judaism, academics, and music. Now a first-year cantorial student in the Year-In-Israel Program, he says, “I believe this path is one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.”

He points to the Truma Program as a fulfilling highlight of his year. With the support of the Community Service Learning Program, funded by UJA-Federation of New York’s Soleilim Fund, he and his classmates apply what they are learning in the classroom by serving community organizations in Israel that assist victims of terrorism, underprivileged children, new immigrants, and the elderly.

His project is to work with children at an absorption center for Ethiopian immigrants in Mevasseret Zion, a community just outside of Jerusalem. “These kids are one generation removed from Ethiopia and come from large families with limited resources,” he describes. “They love singing, they love music. But most of their songs are in Amharic, and they don’t know many Hebrew religious songs. At Hanukkah, I coordinated a sing-along and incorporated songs that could engage all different levels of Hebrew skills.”

Acknowledging that these moments have broadened his understanding of the diversity within the Jewish people and strengthened his ability to provide support to others, spiritually, educationally, and culturally, Feibush concludes, “I will take this experience back with me to the States.”

Cantorial student Kenneth Feibush and classmates Jay O’Brian and Esther Jonas-Maertin celebrate Hanukkah with Ethiopian immigrant children at Mevasseret Zion, outside of Jerusalem.

Miriam Farber
Rabbinical Student/Los Angele

“Over the course of four days, I traveled to Minsk, Grodno, and Lida, leading seders in Progressive comunities under the auspices of the FSU Pesach Project, a partnership between HUC-JIR and the World Union for Progressive Judaism. By far the most powerful day was the time we spent in Lida. After arriving by bus from Grodno, cantorial student Rayna Dushman and I met a community member for a tour of the city and its Jewish sites.

As we stood in the parking lot of an apartment complex. Our guide gestured around us, saying, “This used to be a Jewish cemetery.” Were it not for the memorial by the Jewish community, no one would know. We drove a little bit out of the city proper, to a monument on the side of a road, across from a forest. This monument, Igor told us, marked the spot where all of Lida’s Jewish children were killed on the day the Nazis liquidated its ghetto in the spring of 1942. Their parents were marched into the forest across the way.

Here, we didn’t need a monument to see what had happened. Mounds of earth rose unnaturally from the ground in a forest clearing, now covered in grass and wildflowers. These were the mass graves, memorialized by a Soviet-era plaque to Lida’s citizens, with no mention of the reason they were killed: because they were Jews.

At seder, we pair the salt water of Jewish tears with karpas, the greenery symbolizing springtime, rebirth, and renewal. The seder was our karpas. Lena, a member of the Lida Jewish Community, sang the “Four Questions” beauti- fully. We applauded the children’s choir, recently returned from a choral competition in Minsk, who proudly sang for their parents and community. The children of Lida needed no prodding to make the connection between the ancient story of the Exodus from Egypt, and our people’s more recent history.

“After spending Pesach in Belarus I have a much deeper and more complex understanding of Jewish peoplehood. In the traditional text of the second blessing of the Amidah, it says ‘Blessed is God, who gives life to the dead.’ The revival and rebirth of Judaism in Belarus, the move from children’s graves to children’s choirs, is a vibrant example of the potential for rebirth and renewal in our broken world.”

Rabbinical student Miriam Farber and cantorial student Rayna Dushman celebrate Passover with Mark Damzhalsky and Lena Mihalkevich of the Lida community in Belarus.

Christina Hughes
Rabbinical Student/Cincinnati

“My family first joined a small Reform synagogue in South Windsor, CT, just before my bat mitzvah,” recalls Christina Hughes. “Feeling like I ‘missed the boat’ on a typical Sunday School experience, I have since sought many different avenues to deepening my Jewish education and connection to the Jewish community.” After completing the joint B.A. program at Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary, where she majored in Bible, the call of the rabbinate brought this triathlete to HUC-JIR.

Hughes notes that “from my first year at HUC-JIR in Jerusalem, where I studied side-by-side with first-year rabbinical, cantorial, and education students, I have found a community of friends and future colleagues to share my journey.” Now a second-year rabbinical student, she is continuing to enjoy the benefits of shared intellectual pursuits through her hevruta learning partners. Her advanced standing in Hebrew pairs her with study partners who are third-and fourth-year classmates in the rabbinical program. “As we study together, interpreting the text and exploring diverse perspectives, we benefit from each other’s understandings and deepen our own connections. Hevruta is a real highlight of my HUC-JIR life.”

Looking toward the future, Hughes is leaning toward an academic career and would like to pursue a Ph.D. after her ordination. “My hope is to teach advanced Jewish studies on a university campus one day, where I can help mentor the next generation of young Jews,” she says.

Rabbinical student Christina Hughes with her hevruta study partners Michael Harvey and Marina Tecktiel.

Nancy Bach
Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music Student/New York

“After working in corporate arts marketing for over a decade, and a career as a performer in theater, cabaret, and club singing, I knew I wanted to make a change and connect with others through music, but in a deeper way,” recalls Nancy Bach. “I walked into the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue and heard the most gorgeous, rich music. I could feel it in my heart, and I thought if synagogue music can be like this, I want to do this.”

She points to the rigor modeled by her teachers and mentors as an essential ingredient in her future cantorate. “Having a core of deep knowledge, thought, and dedication to the material will enable me to be a strong leader.”

Her own spirituality is nurtured through her study of liturgy as well as the daily services led by students, “one of the most fertile places to spark my own imagination of what worship can be.” In addition, Bach is actively involved with the new Spirituality Initiative at the New York campus.

“Conversations with my own Spiritual Director and text study with leaders from the Institute for Jewish Spirituality lead to conversations about where God fits into the small moments of life, of finding holiness as we go through the week. I now have a daily Jewish meditation practice that strengthens my connection to God, which is at the heart of everything.”

Cantorial student Nancy Bach nurtures her spirituality during student-led services that inspire new worship strategies for her student pulpit at the Heights Synagogue, Brooklyn, NY.

Matthew Lipton-Schwartz
Jewish Nonprofit Management Student/Los Angeles

HUC-JIR is ahead of the trends and transitions in American Jewry and international Jewry through research, communal leadership, and training,” says Matthew Lipton-Schwartz, who is completing his Master’s degree in Jewish Nonprofit Management at HUC-JIR and M.B.A. at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business. “HUC-JIR enables me to become not only a professional in my work, but also a communal leader.”

From courses in Jewish History to Talmud and Midrash, Lipton-Schwartz has developed his understanding of Judaism as an individual and as part of the greater narrative of the Jewish people. “The two-and-a-half week seminar in Israel, however, changed my life,” he recalls. “I met leaders, diplomats, researchers, and other major players within the Israeli community. I came face to face with Judaism’s 3000 years of history and struggle.”

He is compelled to answer the tough questions. “How do we structure our organizations? How do we sustain our communities? How do we support the global Jewish community and, even beyond that, anybody else needing support and care?” His answers lie in “the Jewish values that give us strength” and a focus on the nonprofit sector, where the mission of doing good must be supported by able business practices, effective organization, vision, communication, and commitment to the cause.

“The return,” he explains, “can be measured in the social impact you can have on a community, on the world.” He helps guarantee that “return” right now, while interning with a social service agency – Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles – that touches the lives of over 100,000 people throughout the year.

Jewish nonprofit management student Matthew Lipton-Schwartz reflects on the Jewish and secular perspectives of his dual degree program at HUC-JIR and USC.

Ilana Mills
Rabbinical Student/Los Angeles

As a fifth-year rabbinical student – and sister to two rabbis – Ilana Mills knows all about the dictum in Deuteronomy: “Justice, justice shall you pursue.” As a rabbinical intern helping to lead efforts in community organizing at Los Angeles’ Leo Baeck Temple, she’s putting it into action. “When I see injustice, I get angry,” she says. “It comes from my gut.”

Mills’ work is part of the Union for Reform Judaism’s Just Congregations Initiative. Still in its infant stages at Leo Baeck Temple, her job is to get people talking and supporting them so they can build strong relationships and act together more effectively.

“We help people share with one another who they really are and what matters most to them in order to help them grapple with the social and economic change they want to and are able to make together in the world. I believe that God is in those moments.”

Rabbinical student Ilana Mills in conversation as part of her community organizing work.

Aryeh Ballaban
Rabbinical Student/Cincinnati

Having come to HUC-JIR after exploring fields as diverse as music and nursing, Aryeh Ballaban is ready to take on the mantle of his legacy as the son of two rabbinical alumni – Rabbi Julie Schwartz, C ’86 and Rabbi Steven Ballaban, C ’86, Ph.D. ‘95.

Ballaban points to the special joys of his student pulpit in Paducah, KY – a community of 38 families that has been around since the 1860s – that appeals to his keen interest in history. Paducah was the only city in the United States to expel their Jews during the Civil War, in accordance with General Ulysses Grant’s anti-Semitic General Order #11 of December 17, 1862. Cesar J. Kaskel of Paducah immediately set out for Washington to put the matter before President Lincoln, who revoked the order on January 5, 1863.

“The synagogue still has the vast majority of their records,” says Ballaban. “I’ll go to their small library and read through their archives across the generations to see how the congregation has developed, changed, and not changed.” Once a larger community able to support the purchase of a new building in the 1970s with a sanctuary that seats 80 and a full religious school wing that is not in use anymore, “it has slowly diminished and most of the members are over 50 years old,” he explains.

Ballaban visits his community every three weeks, traveling five-and-a-half hours each way by car. He enjoys leading Friday night services, providing educational programs for adults and children on Shabbat, engaging in individual conversations about conversion or spirituality, and offering pastoral visits to a hospital or homebound congregant – and finds ways to integrate his classroom learning into his pulpit activities.

“I am incredibly impressed by the significant efforts my congregants have taken to be sure that their history is preserved and their story will continue. As a rabbinical student lifeline, I am helping to assure that synagogue’s survival.”

Aryeh Ballaban with leaders of his student pulpit at Temple Israel, Paducah, KY, one of the founding members of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations in 1873.

Allie Fischman
Rhea Hirsch School of Education Student/Los Angeles

How transformative was Allie Fischman’s year in Israel as part of her Master of Arts in Jewish Education? It convinced her to keep kosher.

That’s not all. In addition, the third-year education student started wrapping tefillin and wearing a kippah during her classes and when she prayed or studied at home.

“I’ve been exploring my religiosity since the beginning of our year in Israel,” Fischman says. “It was really powerful to go to pray on Rosh Chodesh at the Kotel with Women of the Wall and to wrap tefillin at Robinson’s Arch.”

Perhaps more importantly, the Chicago native has continued experimenting with many of these practices since returning stateside. Making each ritual into a habit has led to one revelation after another and made the religious practice of Judaism a more active presence in her life.

“It’s really lovely when ritual infiltrates our lives in so many different ways. I feel like it has created a new kind of meaning that I had never experienced before,” she says.

Education student Allie Fischman leads services at the Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles.

Alyson Bazeley
New York School of Education Student/New York

“I’ve always wanted to be a Jewish educator,” says Alyson Bazeley, who loves working with teenagers.

“Teens really need to choose their own paths, so I ask them what they’re interested in learning,” she says. “They want to participate in mitzvah projects, learn texts, and connect with other Jewish teens.” Her training in experiential learning and relationship building at HUC-JIR are strengthening her capacity to engage her teens at North Shore Synagogue in Syosset, NY.

She has traveled with them to Alabama and Georgia to learn about the civil rights movement and hear directly from those who participated in the struggle. “We then asked ourselves: What does it mean as a Reform Jew to learn these stories? How can we bring activism back to our own congregations? What can we take away from this experience?”

Such experiences have inspired her teens to create projects that engage and help others in their community. “We started an interfaith program with teens at other congregations on Long Island. We worked with a mosque, where their teens and ours would participate together in various mitzvah projects.”

As for herself, she says, “HUC-JIR teaches us to be advocates and to stand up for what we believe is right. Everything I’ve learned I will continue to use in my work in the field.”

Joshua Herman
Rabbinical Student/Cincinnati

“I’ve wanted to be a rabbi since I was pretty young,” reveals Joshua Herman. “It started when my mother was ill with cancer and my rabbi was incredibly supportive and reassuring. He became a role model for me during that time.”

The Milwaukee native majored in Hebrew, Jewish Studies, and Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin in preparation for pursuing his dream. He is especially grateful for the opportunity to “get to know our professors as people, not just as professors. I would venture to say that I have been to most of my professors’ homes.”

Last semester, Dr. Gary P. Zola, Professor of the American Jewish Experience and Director of the Jacob Radar Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, invited his entire class over for dinner. “A small group of us ended up staying pretty late, talking for a long time with Dr. Zola about rabbis who gave really charged sermons about issues like civil rights that were highly controversial with their congregants. We asked how we could see ourselves doing so one day.”

Such conversations – formally in the classroom or informally in a faculty home – provide opportunities for reflection that are indispensable for students’ development as future leaders.

Rabbinical student Joshua Herman officiating at the bar mitzvah of Jordan Miller as part of his student pulpit at Congregation Gates of Prayer in New Iberia, LA.

Keara Cummings
Rabbinical Student/Los Angeles

Most people get anxious at the notion of dealing with death and dying. Not Keara Cummings, a third-year rabbinical student from Scottsdale, AZ.

“To be able to meet people in a pastoral setting, at the most intimate part of their lives and to make a difference, that’s the most important part to me. It’s all about connection,” she says.

Cummings, a Kalsman Institute pastoral intern at the UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center, says that her internship is teaching her that sometimes the most comforting words she can offer are none at all: “A lot of it is not talking, just sitting in silence and listening.”

After seeing each patient, Cummings reflects and searches for ties to Jewish texts at the request of her mentor, Rabbi Pearl Barlev, L ’07. But she finds personal meaning too, whether it’s from a woman in the intensive care unit who led Cummings to call her own mom to say how much she loved her or a man in the psychiatric unit who forced her to justify the role of medicine in God’s universe.

“The reflection process has taught me a great deal about myself – how I process difficult situations and learn from them,” she says. “I know I will draw on these experiences in many ways in my rabbinate.”

Rabbinical student Keara Cummings on her way to visit a patient as a Kalsman Institute pastoral intern at the UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center.

David Gerber
Rabbinical Student/Cincinnati

“ Some studies have predicted that by the end of next year, the majority of Americans will have a smartphone,” notes David Gerber. “Not only are they an integral part of our business and personal lives, but they have the potential to revolutionize the way we approach Jewish engagement.”

Gerber holds a B.A. in Telecommunications, focusing on media design and production, and is now applying his expertise to increasing Reform Judaism’s technological presence through the use of QR (mobile bar codes). “With the support of the faculty, I have created The QR Project (, and HUC-JIR is among the first organizations to explore the use of this technology outside of the marketing realm.”

Working with congregations throughout the country to explore the potential for integrating mobile technology into Jewish life, the QR Project offers free resources for individual learners and communal educators, many of which take advantage of the wide array of resources available at HUC-JIR.

“Young adults in their 20s and 30s are our most mobile constituency. In fact, it is very possible that the place where they spend the most time is on their mobile devices,” he explains. “My QR Project is demonstrating how we can effectively deliver meaningful Jewish content in a way that naturally attracts and connects to young adults. Technology is one of the many languages of outreach, and it is a language that young adults speak fluently.”

Technology advances very quickly, so the importance of this project goes beyond QR codes. “With The QR Project, I hope to establish HUC-JIR as a trendsetter in the technological world. I believe that HUC-JIR can offer the resources for future Jewish leaders to be technologically proficient and, in doing so, can have a global impact on the accessibility of Jewish education.”

Rabbinical student David Gerber demonstrates the use of mobile bar codes to provide access to HUC-JIR’s free resources for learners and educators.

Leah Guskin
Jewish Nonprofit Management Student/Los Angeles

As Leah Guskin reflects upon her internship at the Westside Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles, all she can say is: “It has been such an incredible opportunity for me.”

A student in the School of Jewish Nonprofit Management who is simultaneously working on a Masters in Communication Management at the University of Southern California – thanks to a unique partnership between the two institutions – her role as a communications specialist for the local nonprofit seems like the perfect match.

Guskin spends three days a week on site creating everything from a monthly e-newsletter to a list of branding requirements for program partners. For her, the work represents the opportunity to take what she’s learned in the classroom and apply it to actual situations.

“I’ve had to write press releases and marketing plans in class, and now have the chance to do real ones,” she says. “The internship component of the program is really an opportunity to come into your own as a professional.”

Jewish Nonprofit Management student Leah Guskin provides communications management expertise through her internship at the Westside Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles 

Joshua Stanton
Rabbinical Student/New York

How can Judaism be brought to people through technology? How can we as a Reform Jewish movement interact with our peers in other faiths?” Joshua Stanton is figuring out the answers to these questions, and acting upon them, each and every day.

As a first-year student, Stanton co-founded the online Journal of Inter-religious Dialogue, because “we have the most religiously diverse society since the fall of Rome. We need to understand what it means to be religious and ethical leaders in the midst of diversity.” As a Reform Jew, he feels strongly that “it is upon us to speak out about issues of social justice, issues of equity, issues of Judaism in the modern world.”

Stanton is in the process of working with Odyssey Networks, a multi-faith media coalition, and the Huffington Post to develop a weekly Torah commentary that brings in voices from different denominations to talk about Torah and how it applies to contemporary events. “We’re trying to demonstrate that Torah adds depth, not just to our lives but to our understanding of the wider world.”

Rabbinical student Joshua Stanton is an emerging leader in inter-religious dialogue through the new platforms offered by online technology.

Phillip Bollinger
Graduate Studies Student/Cincinnati

Phillip Bollinger’s journey began on his parents’ dairy farm in Lancaster, PA. With a B.A. from Moody Bible Institute, an undergraduate year of study at Hebrew University’s Rothberg International School, and an M.A. from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, he arrived at HUC-JIR to pursue a doctorate in the Hebrew Bible and its context.

“The Klau library is indispensable for my studies,” he describes. “Its resources for the study of the Hebrew Bible and the languages and cultures of the ancient Near East, as well as the Jewish history of interpretation of the Bible, are vital for my weekly course work and final papers. I utilize the Klau library’s language resources on a weekly, if not daily, basis for my translation and analysis of ancient texts. Its depth of resources also allows me to consult a wide range of modern and ancient writers/commentators when researching biblical passages or topics.”

When it comes to being an interfaith student at HUC-JIR, Bollinger explains, “I can witness and participate first hand in how a religious community different from my own is investigating and understanding biblical text. It challenges me to remember that the texts I am studying have shaped my own faith community as well as other faith communities through the ages these continue to impact how we seek to understand ourselves in the present.

Ph.D. student Phillip Bollinger examines the biblical archaeology artifacts at HUC-JIR’s Archaeology Center and the Skirball Museum/Cincinnati for his studies in the Hebrew Bible and its context.

Ben Ellerin
Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music Student/New York

Second-year cantorial student Ellerin brings a special gift – the capacity to compose new music reflecting contemporary Jewish experience.

Ellerin first began writing classical music around the time of his bar mitzvah and went to Indiana University for his Bachelor’s degree in Music and Jewish Studies. While pursuing his Master of Music in Conducting there, he encountered the overwhelming prevalence of Christian-influenced choral music and began to imagine how he could apply his creativity and Jewish identity to enriching this repertoire.

He was inspired by the passage “Dodi Li v’Ani Lo” from Shir Hashirim (The Song of Songs) to compose a choral piece. “Its romantic and expressive language appealed to me and provided a link to my Jewish roots during my internship with the Grand Rapids Symphony.”

Shortly thereafter, he came to the realization that the cantorate was his destined path. “I realized I might never make a real difference in anyone’s life as a classical musician, but knew that as a cantor I would have the unique opportunity to interact with people in a meaningful and musical way.”

It was during his audition for admission to the cantorial program that he shared his composition with the faculty. Three short years later, Joyce Rosenzweig, Artist-in-Residence, decided to include Ellerin’s choral piece in the musical materials for her Choir class. “The moment my second-and third-year classmates took the notes on the page and gave them life fulfilled some of my greatest hopes as a future cantor – to share new music, inspire others, and contribute to the world of Jewish music.”

Cantorial student Ben Ellerin conducts the cantorial student choir in the performance of his new composition inspired by Shir HaShirim (Song of Songs)

Sister Anna Celentano
Interfaith Doctor of Ministry Student/New York

Seeking “to understand and respond to the variety of clinical programs encountered in ministry,” Sister Anna Celentano of Congregation Saint John the Baptist, travels from the St. Fortunata Parish in East New York, Brooklyn, to HUC-JIR’s New York campus on Mondays. Her mission is to study with clergy of diverse faith groups in the Doctor of Ministry in Interfaith Clinical Education for Pastoral Ministry Degree Program.

Sister Anna applied to the program to gain exposure to different religions and discover other relationships with God – “to see God from others’ eyes.” Since she began her studies with her cohort, Sister Anna’s work in pastoral counseling has doubled.

“I believe I have an increased capacity to offer compassion and a deeper presence,” explains Sister Anna. “I am learning to be with people while retaining personal strength. This program has deepened my relationship with God and my experiences with other human beings.”

Sister Anna Celentano studies with clergy of all faiths in the Doctor of Ministry in Interfaith Clinical Education for Pastoral Ministry Degree Program.

Marc Katz
Rabbinical Student/New York

We joke in my family about the fact that I used to ‘bat mitzvah’ my sister’s stuffed animals,” says Marc Katz, reflecting on his childhood aspirations to be a rabbi.

His quest brought him to the Year-In-Israel Program, where he met his future wife, cantorial student Julia Katz, and learned more about “the transition from being a Jew in the pew, to being a leader in a community.” Working at Tzur Hadassah, a new congregation founded by Rabbi Ofer Sabath Bet Halachmi, J ’05, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, “gave me an insight into Reform Judaism in Israel and a passion to make my story a part of the greater Jewish narrative that lives in Israel.”

Now in his fifth year, Katz is busy at work writing his thesis, with Rabbi David Ellenson as his advisor.

“My research examines the Jewish legal concept of lo titgoddedu which has come to mean “don’t make factions,” from its biblical roots through the modern period. Looking at a number of primarily orthodox scholars, I am examining how different communities have negotiated the tension between allowing legal variation in Jewish law and forcing communities to all behave the same way. Once I have fully developed the scope of this legal concept, I want to examine whether lo tigoddedu has any place in Reform Judaism, which puts a premium on personal choice.”

Rabbinical student Marc Katz meets regularly with Rabbi David Ellenson, his senior thesis advisor, to study Jewish legal texts.

Yael Weinstock Mashbaum
DeLeT/Los Angeles

Teaching was nothing new to Yael Weinstock Mashbaum when she arrived at HUC-JIR. She had already spent more than three years working at Yad Vashem in Israel teaching online Holocaust courses in English and Hebrew and creating an online newsletter for educators.

But she was drawn back to Los Angeles to be near family and to the DeLeT program in particular because it prepares educators to teach at Jewish day schools.

“I love watching children learn ,” she says. “I love being able to see their minds working and opening up to new ideas.”

As a DeLeT Fellow, Mashbaum teaches fifth grade four days a week at Sinai Akiba Academy in Westwood, covering general and Judaic studies. She spends the other day on the HUC-JIR campus supporting her practical experience with educational philosophy.

Her tuition is covered under the program, which is subsidized by the Jim Joseph Foundation Education Initiative, and she receives a stipend as well. As meaningful as her mission may be, these financial considerations are making it possible, she says.

“I want to teach Jews to be Jews,” Mashbaum says.

DeLeT Fellow Yael Weinstock Mashbaum is recognized as one of the Los Angeles community’s twenty emerging Jewish leaders under twenty by the Jewish Education Assembly.

Sarah Lauing
Rhea Hirsch School of Education Student/Los Angeles

“I was leading a hiking tefillah in summer camp, exploring the themes of prayer through being in nature,” recalls Sarah Lauing, now completing her final year in the M.A. in Jewish Education program. “One eighth-grade boy started talking about God and his beliefs. I saw this spark inside of him and I thought, this is what I want to do with my life.”

“At HUC-JIR, visionary educators teach us to innovate and think of new ways of doing things, to push boundaries and transform the possibilities in Jewish education,” says Lauing. Beyond innovative methods, her program teaches her innovative ways of thinking. “It’s about experiential education – ‘doing’ Jewish as opposed to just learning about it. It’s about getting beyond learning things to the core of what we believe.”

The model for this kind of learning, for Lauing, was her Year-In-Israel Program, where “our professors would take us out into the country, show us the monuments and historical sites, but really help us to understand them on a more profound level.” She has gone on to lead teen groups through Israel, following the same strategies.

Lauing’s students remind her why she wants to be a Jewish educator. “You see these kids starting to figure something out about themselves and about the world. It’s inspiring and amazing.”

Education student Sarah Lauing confers with mentor Professor Sara S. Lee, Director Emerita of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education.

Alicia Stillman
Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music Student/New York

Alicia Stillman – a former actress, doula, pre-school music teacher, and mother of two – was known as the “Jewish pied piper” for kids in Palm Beach, FL. “It was my community that reached out and told me to go become a cantor,” she recalls.

This is the third year she has flown twice a month to serve as student cantor of Temple Judea in Palm Beach Gardens. “As a student you accumulate knowledge; it’s all learning and studying,” she says, “but when you teach it to someone who takes it in and relates it to his or her own life, that prayer becomes real. A 78-year-old cancer survivor talking about what the Mi Shebeirach prayer means to her is different from my singing it on a Friday night.”

Her most recent challenge was her assigned practicum (mini-recital) to create a ‘sermon in song’ about the prayer for geshem (rain), which is recited on Shemini Atzeret at the end of Sukkot – a holiday not widely celebrated by Reform Jews. “How do we make our liturgy and an ancient tradition come alive and have meaning for present-day congregants?” she asks.

Tracing the history of this prayer from the temple cult thousands of years ago and drawing upon kabbalistic interpretations of rain as manifesting spiritual blessings to the material world, Stillman’s sermon evoked the meaning of rain as the source of “purification, abundance, food, and life.” She performed a broad range of music, from traditional nusach reminiscent of Neilah (the closing service for Yom Kippur) to Israeli pioneer folk songs, Yemenite songs, Cantor Jonathan Comisar’s new work inspired by Yehuda Amichai’s poem, “A Quiet Joy,” where rain serves as a source of memory, and Cantor Benjie Schiller’s “Water to Water,” composed for the Mayim Hayyim mikveh in Boston.

With the environment increasingly on the Jewish community’s radar, Stillman hopes that the prayer for rain “may offer Jews the opportunity to return to their roots, understand Judaism from its inception, and have a renewed respect for the natural world’s wonders.”

Cantorial student Alicia Stillman coaches emerging songleader and 6th-grader Nikki Lickstein at the “Got Shabbat” family service at Temple Judea in Palm Beach Gardens, FL.

Aaron Gorodzinsky
Jewish Nonprofit Management Student/Los Angeles

If anyone understands our world without borders, it’s Aaron Gorodzinsky. This Mexico City-native worked on Israeli advocacy in Jerusalem before coming to Los Angeles to study for a master’s degree at HUC-JIR’s School of Jewish Nonprofit Management.

And when the first-year student started an internship with The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, what was his first task? Working on a project with global implications, a community mission to Israel that drew 400 people.

“We were part of the largest Los Angeles mission ever,” he says. “It’s really rewarding to know that everything paid off in the end.”

His twice-a-week internship, in which he sits in on Jewish Federation Valley Alliance staff meetings and gets involved in fundraising work, has given him more than an insider’s look at the nonprofit world. It’s also given him insight into leadership styles. “That has been inspiring to me,” Gorodzinsky says. “In order to be a good leader, you have to lead by example.”

That’s a lesson that transcends borders too.

Jewish Nonprofit Management student Aaron Gorodzinsky of Mexico City brings a global sense of Jewish peoplehood to his studies and internship at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

Michael C. Lyons
Graduate Studies Student/Cincinnati

“I chose HUC-JIR because the history of the Bible and Ancient Near Eastern program is renowned in the academic world,” says Michael Lyons, who came with a Master of Divinity from Southern Theological Seminary. “I also came because of the school’s historical emphasis on Christians and Jews studying together, learning from each other, and challenging each other to grow in our understanding of the Bible and living,” he says.

Lyons values his daily interaction with rabbinical students. “They offer a fresh and new perspective for me in our classes together. Their connection to the rich history of Jewish studies brings about a helpful influence on my own studies.” Furthermore, the rabbinical seminary setting “helps remind me that my studies should not be done in a vacuum hidden within the ivory walls of academia. The seminary setting brings with it a constant awareness that people matter. It encourages my studies to aim for understanding the Bible better so that people can know God better.”

After completing his Ph.D., Lyons hopes to teach and train pastors in biblical languages at a seminary, helping them understand the many ancient contours that shaped the Bible, and plans to serve as a pastor himself. “I believe the Bible can transform lives, and my time in the Ph.D. program will further enhance my abilities to bring the Bible to people and see their lives change for the better.”

Ph.D. student Michael Lyons conducts research in the Cuneiform Studies Room in the Klau Library, Cincinnati.

Debbie Bram
Executive M.A. in Jewish Education Student

Now in her nineteenth year as a Jewish educator and her ninth year as Director of Lifelong Learning at Suburban Temple Kol Ami in Beachwood, OH, Debbie Bram is a member of the inaugural cohort of sixteen educators in HUC-JIR’s new Executive M.A. program, made possible by the Jim Joseph Foundation Education Initiative.

“This program allows people who are working full-time to fulfill a program of such high quality – it’s pretty amazing and the perfect next step for me,” says Bram.

Bram brings everything she learns at HUC-JIR back into her congregation because the material is “current, cutting-edge.” After studying how to make meaning out of history with Dr. Jonathan Krasner, Associate Professor

of the American Jewish Experience, she galvanized a new project for her community. “We now have an invigorated committee collecting the history and oral histories of founding members of the congregation and devising ways of presenting the material to the congregation so that they continue to learn about the congregation’s evolution.”

Thanks to the “phenomenal support” of HUC-JIR’s faculty and educational technologists, Bram and her classmates from across North America have adapted quickly to online learning. As the cohort meets online or at on-site intensives in Chicago, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, New York, or in Israel next December, Bram appreciates the special kinship of this group of educators, as they relish “being fellow learners together.”

Debbie Bram’s students at Suburban Temple Kol Ami in Beachwood, OH, benefit from her studies in the Executive M.A. Program in Jewish Education.

David Spinrad
Rabbinical Student/Cincinnati

“As Reform Jews, we’re living in a tension between the particular and the universal,” says David Spinrad. “And one of our great challenges is to contribute to the specific destiny of the Jewish people while recognizing the necessity to express Jewish values on a global stage.”

As a rabbinical student, Spinrad has enjoyed multiple opportunities to engage in meaningful social justice opportunities, including a CLAL/Panim interdenominational rabbinical retreat on spirituality and social justice and a trip to Florida with Rabbis for Human Rights-North America to meet with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and to learn about their Campaign for Fair Food.

Spinrad traveled to Senegal with the American Jewish World Service and rabbinical students across the Jewish continuum, to work on a service project in the village Keur Ibra Fall, about two hours east of Dakar. He was challenged daily to integrate his experiences in the field with relevant Jewish texts seen in the light of modern, complex social and economic realities. What did he learn from the experience? “The application of Jewish ethics in the developing world reinforced my belief that I can’t turn my back on peo- ple in need. I am committed to both klal Yisrael and to the larger world. Neither is mutually exclusive. I truly believe that our capacity to contribute authentically as Jews is limited only by our conviction and our courage.”

Rabbinical student David Spinrad examines the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism’s collection of civil rights documents, which are preserved at the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives.

Michelle Blumenthal
Certificate in Jewish Education for Adolescents and Emerging Adults Student

As an Education Fellow at the Institute for Southern Jewish Living, located at the URJ’s Camp Jacobs in Jackson, MS, Michelle Blumenthal is one of nine itinerant educators working with 77 congregations across 13 states.

“Sometimes our kids are the only Jewish students in their schools. I want them to be proud Jews, especially in communities where they are dealing with anti-Semitism, and to teach their peers who often have never met a Jew before.”

Blumenthal is one of the sixteen students in the inaugural cohort of HUC-JIR’s newly launched certificate program, made possible by the Jim Joseph Foundation Education Initiative, which is preparing educators from across North America to nurture the Jewish identity and commitment of youth and young adults.

The curriculum is comprehensive and taught through online courses and on-site institutes and intensives, guided by a mentor, and culminates in a field-related action project. Blumenthal praises the program’s faculty for “presenting the information using a variety of learning styles.”

“I used to find it difficult to teach about Jewish identity, when I myself wasn’t too sure where I stood on certain issues. I have learned that it is ok to question, it is important to test your boundaries, and that our views can and ultimately will change as we grow. We are all on a Jewish journey that never really ends.”

Jerusalem Ordination and Academic Convocation • November 18, 2011 / 21 Cheshvan 5772

Rabbi Uri Regev, Esq., J ’86,
Chief Executive Officer, Hiddush — For Religious Freedom and Equality and recipient of the Doctor of Divinity degree, honoris causa
Jerusalem Ordination and Academic Convocation Address

“The public faces great challenges: peace and security, education, urban development and environmental conservation, the renewal of the Zionist vision, religion and state, minorities, refugees and foreign workers and many others. We assembled here at this festive event — Israelis, Diaspora leaders, and members of the HUC-JIR Board of Governors — are all partners in the desire to advance the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. In this regard, we are no different from millions in Israel and the Diaspora who confront these questions. We need to ask, what is our uniqueness, what added value do we bring to this conversation?”

Eleven graduates of the Sugyot Chaim/Life Texts — Talmudic Bibliotherapy Program, sponsored by the Blaustein Center for Pastoral Care and Counseling, received their certificates: Ada Ahiman, Tova Birnbaum, Vered Jaia Bogomoski Yahalom, Fruma Brickner, Dr. Hagit Dee-Noor, Rabbi Judith Edelman-Green, J ’09, Dina Hertz, Uri Lam, Yehudith Miller-Zamir, Irit Tunik, and Rachel Walfish.

Gila Caine, Yeshiyahu (Shai) Beloosesky, and Ariella Graetz Bar Tuv, with Rabbi Marc Rosenstein, N ’75, Director, Israel Rabbinical Program, were ordained by Rabbi Michael Marmur, J ’92, Vice President for Academic Affairs. They join the 69 alumni of the Israel Rabbinical Program who serve Progressive congregations, schools, and communities throughout Israel.

Sally Klein-Katz, educator/consultant/ coordinator of Israel seminars, received the hon- orary Doctor of Education degree. Cantor Mikhal Shiff Mater received the honorary Doctor of Music degree.

The third cohort of graduates of the Blaustein Center for Pastoral Care and Counseling’s Mezorim Program: Sandra Ahr, Yuki Bartura, Daniela Brafman, Gila Caine, Noga Eshet, Ofra Feffer, Yael Granit, Debbie Lapin, Anna Michelle Gerrard, Imbar Rimon, Baruch Shalev, Rachi Shamir, and Dr. Martin Vahrenhorts. These thirteen graduates — Reform rabbis, social workers, educators, and nurses — are the emerging leaders of a new profession in Israel of pastoral caregivers who are introducing the role of chaplain to Israeli society. They are redefining Jewish religious outreach, grounded in the values and mission of the Reform Movement, and are having an impact on the lives of many through their capacity to comfort, counsel, and care.

Lia Van Leer, the founder of the Haifa Cinemathèque, the Jerusalem Cinemathèque, the Israel Film Archive, and the Jerusalem Film Festival, was presented with the President’s Medallion for her role as a pioneer in the field of art film programming and film archiving in Israel by Dr. David Harman, Chair, Board of Overseers, HUC-JIR/Jerusalem, and Rabbi Naamah Kelman, J ’92, Dean.

Rabbi Jonathan A. Stein, C ’75, President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and Rabbi at Temple Shaaray Tefila in Manhattan, was inducted onto the Board of Governors of HUC-JIR by Irwin Engelman, Chairman, Board of Governors.

The HUC-JIR Year-in-Israel Student Choir sang “Samachti B’Omrim Li, Psalm 122,” composed by Charles Osborne and conducted by David Berger

The Spirituality Initiative of the New York School

“It is crucial that we enable our students to deepen their own spiritual practice during their training,” says Rabbi Shirley Idelson, N ’91, Dean, HUC-JIR/New York.

Rabbi Rachel Cowan, N ’89, Senior Fellow and former Executive Director of IJS, explains, “I was quite content as a student at HUC-JIR in the late ’80s, not thinking much about the spiritual dimension of my life. Then my husband was diagnosed with leukemia at the beginning of my fourth year and died at the beginning of my last year. I received tremendous support from my teachers and classmates, but I realized then that my Judaism lived mostly in my head, and I needed to move into the depths of my soul to find strength and hope and courage. If this Spirituality Initiative had existed then, it would have helped enormously to do that work – for we did not speak of soul, nor about a relationship with a God who comforted, nor about personal prayer. Spiritual practice was not a concept we ever heard about – and yet it is key to maintaining oneself and growing as a rabbi.”

Thanks to a generous grant from the Joyce and Irving Goldman Family Foundation, the New York School has launched the Spirituality Initiative to nourish the spiritual needs of rabbinical, cantorial, and education students through collaboration between the New York faculty and the Institute for Jewish Spirituality (IJS).

“This Initiative will engage our students in rigorous, intellectually engaging and deeply honest work that will help them become more effective Jewish professionals capable of making religious meaning and experience accessible to all Jews who seek it, regardless of background,” Rabbi Idelson explains.

A central component of the Spirituality Initiative is a new course: “Mindful Jewish Spiritual Practice: Integrating Body, Heart, Mind,and Soul in Our Jewish Lives.” Taught by IJS faculty, including Rabbis Jonathan Slater, Sheila Weinberg, Rachel Cowan, Nancy Flam, N ’89, and Myriam Klotz, and open to all rabbinical, cantorial, and education students, the course is based on study and practice. The practice of mindful meditation in a Jewish framework weaves through the prac- tices of Torah study, embodied awareness (yoga postures), and prayer.

The grant also provides Spiritual Direction to those students who desire this form of guidance. Aimed at cultivating attentiveness and deepening awareness to the presence of God in one’s everyday life, while connecting in an authentic way with Jewish vocabulary, pathways, and traditions, Spiritual Direction is offered by trained pro- fessionals through a series of monthly one-on-one meetings. The Spiritual Direction team includes Rabbi David Adelson, Rabbi Myriam Klotz, and Dr. Linda Thal.

In June 2012 the Spirituality Initiative will provide students and alumni with a week-long yoga and Jewish spirituality training program geared specifically toward Jewish clergy.

Reflecting on the importance of the Spirituality Initiative, Dr. Andrea Weiss, Assistant Professor of Bible at HUC- JIR/New York, says, “This program is providing students on our campus with unprecedented access to a rich array of resources for spiritual growth that have been transfor- mative for clergy in the field.”

Rabbi Nancy Flam adds, “HUC-JIR’s new Spirituality Initiative provides an invaluable opportunity for students to explore and deepen their own inner lives and create a sustaining and sustainable spiritual practice in the midst of their years at the seminary. The promise of personal integration, of bringing together ‘role and soul’ as Jewish leaders and as spiritual beings, will bring blessing not only to the students themselves, but to every person with whom they will work.”

The Spirituality Initiative at the New York School offers new courses on spiritual practice.

Guided by Rabbi Shirley Idelson, Dean, HUC-JIR/New York, students have the 45 opportunity to study with Rabbi Jonathan Slater, Rabbi Myriam Klotz and Rabbi Sheila Weinberg; participate in spiritual direction with Rabbi David Adelson, Dr. Linda Thal, and Rabbi Klotz; and learn from guest speaker Rabbi Jacqueline Koch Ellenson.

Students and faculty engage in prayer enriched by the new Spirituality Initiative.

Centenary, Collaboration, and Community: HUC-JIR/ Cincinnati

“The year 2011 marks the first centenary of our Cincinnati campus” says Dr. Jonathan Cohen, the new Dean. “This culminating year of a century of achievement reflects a significant focus on collaboration and community, to enhance the campus’s deep roots and role in Cincinnati and the region.”

A priority has been strengthening partnerships. HUC-JIR and Xavier University have finalized a pioneering agreement for collaboration in the teaching of Judaic Studies. Members of the HUC-JIR faculty are now teaching a growing number of undergraduate students in courses at Xavier University, and enabling them to minor in Judaic Studies. A pilot program with the University of Cincinnati (UC) places HUC-JIR graduate students as Judaic Studies instructors there and ensures that they benefit from the guided training in pedagogy and teaching experience so essential to their future careers. Further dynamic partnerships with UC and the University of Dayton are in formation.

In addition, the campus has launched an ambitious public outreach program. This effort includes the creation of new communications platforms for sharing campus news and events – website, e-newsletter, e-invitations, the use of QR codes, and social networking through Facebook and twitter. An increased number of public programs, either produced or hosted by the College-Institute, are welcoming the community, prospective students, and new friends.

Attendance has doubled and over a thousand new visitors have visited the campus – ranging from Girl Scout troops exploring The Skirball Museum, to young professionals participating in the HUC-UC Ethics Center lectures, to senior groups from the JCC and local independent living facilities taking part in chamber music concerts and student performances. HUC-JIR’s Academy for Interfaith Study has offered courses, lectures, and film programs to learners of all faiths and backgrounds. These programs have invigorated relationships with other agencies in Cincinnati, including UC Hillel, The Mayerson Foundation’s Access Program, the Young Adult Division of the local Jewish Federation, the Jewish Community Center, and others.

Over 300 high school and college students hosted in the campus’s newly remodeled recruitment center have attended special weekend programs fostering recruitment and showcasing the campus’s rich resources – academic programs, faculty, the Klau Library, the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives (AJA), and The Skirball Museum.

“HUC-JIR’s rabbinical students are playing a vital role in regional outreach through their student pulpits and internships in forty-seven congregations in seventeen states in the Midwest, South, and Southwest – stretching from Florida to North Dakota,” adds Rabbi Kenneth Kanter, Director of the School of Rabbinical Studies. Students also serve as Hillel rabbinical interns for six universities in the region, including the University of Cincinnati, Earlham College, University of Miami/ Ohio, and Dennison University. Rabbinical interns are placed with Jewish Family Service of Cincinnati and provide regular visits to shut-ins and non-affiliated elders. Local pre-schools welcome rabbinical interns for Shabbat activities, as do interfaith programs at churches and schools.

In fact, the campus’s outreach is global. The AJA Fellowships Program has hosted nearly four hundred Fellows from over twenty countries since 1977. This past year’s Fellows, hailing from the United States, England and Israel, conducted in-depth research on topics ranging from the role of the Reform Movement in U.S. military chaplaincy, to interfaith dialogue, particularly in the areas of Christian Zionism. International scholarship is further disseminated by the campus’s scholarly publication arms, including the American Jewish Archives Journal, Hebrew Union College Annual, and Hebrew Union College Press.

“This outreach initiative will continue to be a priority, as we launch the next century in our institution’s mission of leadership, learning, and service to the Jewish people and humankind,” states Dr. Cohen.

The Cincinnati campus welcomes learners of all generations for programs organized by the American Jewish Archives (AJA) and the Dean’s Office, including Shabbat during a high school retreat, a lecture on Jews and baseball, and exhibits of historical documents from the AJA collections.

Community Outreach Program Highlights

Roy Nathanson’s Sotto Voce Jazz and Hip Hop Concert, with rapper Napoleon Maddox

HUC-UC Ethics Center: “The New Asylums: Mental Health and Ohio Prisons” with David Singleton, Executive Director of Ohio Justice and Policy Center

Concerts on Clifton: “The Bible on Broadway,” performed by HUC-JIR rabbinical students

AJA Open History Seminar: “In the Thou Business,” with Dr. Walter Brueggemann, Professor Emeritus of Old Testament, Columbia Theologi- cal Seminary.

Books of Note: “The Wilderness Itineraries; Genre, Geography, and the Growth of Torah,” with Dr. Angela Roskop, Visiting Assistant Profes- sor of Theology, Xavier University

“The Search for the Spiritual Through Jewish, Christian, Islamic, and Hindu Art:” – lectures and tours in partnership with The Cincinnati Art Museum, Taft Museum of Art, Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati, Hindu Temple of Greater Cincinnati, and The Skirball Museum.

College Student Retreat: “The Book of Jon….Stewart: Judaism’s Influence on American Culture and American Culture’s Influence on Judaism”

High School Retreat: “Going Green…burg: What Judaism Has to Say about Living an Eco-friendly Life.”

AJA Lecture Series: “The 1936 Olympics: Sam Stoller and Marty Glickman, Kept from the Starting Line.”

Israel Engagement: HUC-JIR/ Jerusalem

“Israel studies and the Israel experience lie at the core of educating the future leaders of the Jewish people,”
states Rabbi David Ellenson, N ’77, HUC-JIR President.

“The new Israel Engagement Program will fundamentally educate, enrich, and enlighten these future Jewish leaders in ways that will have an impact on Israel-Diaspora relations for generations to come,”
concludes Rabbi Michael Marmur, J ’92, Vice President for Academic Affairs.

“There is no better way to understand the narrative of the Jewish people and to explore the diversity of Jewish peoplehood than through a direct and profound encounter with the land, history, and people of Israel,” says Rabbi Ellenson.

HUC-JIR’s Year-In-Israel Program is required of all first year rabbinical, cantorial, and education students. Israel Semi- nars and intensives in Israel are required for students in the School of Jewish Nonprofit Management and for stu- dents in HUC-JIR’s new Executive M.A. Program in Jewish Education. Israel archaeological studies are offered to Ph.D. students focusing on Bible and Ancient Near East Studies.

These initiatives are now strengthened by a grant from UJA-Federation of New York, which supports a new joint program for students in HUC-JIR’s and the Jewish Theo- logical Seminary’s (JTS) Israel programs. Its purpose is to deepen students’ Israel engagement while also bringing these future leaders of the Reform and Conservative Movements closer together.

“For the first time in the history of HUC-JIR, a sustained program of joint encounters between HUC-JIR and JTS students is happening here in Jerusalem,” explains Rabbi Josh Zweiback, Director of HUC-JIR’s Year-In-Israel Program. “Together, we are building a program designed to help our students get to know one another better, en- counter Israel in a deeper way, and explore some of the incredible opportunities and challenges confronting us as a people and a nation.” Rabbi Zweiback co-directs this new joint program with Rabbi Matt Berkowitz of JTS.

The generous grant supports the new Israel Engagement Coordinator who works with students to help them con- nect to Israelis and Israeli culture. Resources provide for the enhancement of HUC-JIR’s retreat program and the creation of a series of Israel encounters. Significant learn- ing experiences include a visit to Midreshet Ein Prat – Israel’s largest provider of intensive pluralistic Jewish educational programming, which is forging a new para- digm of Israeli Jewish identity. On a tiyul to the South students from both seminaries explore the liberal reli- gious kibbutzim of the Arava – Yahel, Lotan, and Keturah. The joint celebration of Thanksgiving provides an oppor- tunity to talk about gratitude in American/Israeli/Jewish identity.

Students Jeremy Gimbel, Stacy Petersohn, and Arielle Branitsky celebrate Simchat Torah with the members of Kehillat Birkat Shalom, a Progressive Judaism congregation at Kibbutz Gezer.

Udi Tzemach HUC-JIR/ Jerusalem’s new Israel Engagement Program Coordinator, leads students on a walking tour of Jerusalem sites found in Yehuda Amichai’s poetry.

Daniel Alter, Lauren Levy, and Jessie Wainer lead Shabbat Shacharit services in a desert setting during the overnight tiyul to the Negev.

A class trip to Qumran is led by Professor David Levine as part of his Second Temple History class.

A Unique Partnership: HUC-JIR/Jack H. Skirball Campus/Los Angeles and USC

For more than forty years, HUC-JIR and the University of Southern California have shared a mutually beneficial partnership, which began in 1970 with HUC-JIR’s strategic move downtown to be adjacent to USC’s campus. Ever since, these two institutions have bonded in a unique programmatic and academic partnership that has enabled HUC-JIR to thrive as an innovative center for teaching, research, professional development, and community engagement within the USC learning community.

“HUC-JIR’s partnership with USC shapes the Jack H. Skirball Campus in fundamental ways. As institutions of higher learning, we share a core mission of academic inquiry, and we complement one another in ways that enrich us both in that grand endeavor. Additionally, this shared mission advances HUC-JIR’s unique role as the intellectual and academic center of Reform Judaism, which has staked its identity on the claim that rigorous analysis and religious commitment crossfertilize and deepen one another,” says Dr. Joshua Holo, Dean.

HUC-JIR’s Louchheim School of Judaic Studies serves as USC’s Jewish Studies program in the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences. Courses are taught by HUC-JIR’s distinguished faculty to about 650 USC undergraduate students annually on both the HUC-JIR and USC campuses. The Louchheim School offers minors in Judaic Studies and Jewish-American Studies, as well as a major in Religion with an emphasis in Judaic Studies.

“The Louchheim School’s partnership with USC promotes the fact that Jewish studies should be a vital part of every university setting,” explains Dr. Leah Hochman, Director of the Louchheim School. “This relationship maximizes the resources of both schools. It provides opportunities for undergraduate students to take advantage of the top-notch faculty of the College-Institute.” Furthermore, the Louchheim School shares close relationships with the USC Shoah Foundation Institute, the Casden Institute for the Study of the Jewish Role in American Life, the Middle East Studies Program, USC’s Office of Religious Life, USC Hillel, and Chabad at USC.”

Reform Judaism magazine’s college issue ranked USC 11th in private schools in terms of its Jewish student population, estimated at 1,900 people, or 12 percent of the student body,” adds Dr. Hochman. “The potential to educate the next generation of Jewish students, as well as non-Jewish and international students who will become leaders in all walks of life is incredible.”

The School of Jewish Nonprofit Management (SJNM), educates Jewish communal professionals to serve as leaders in social services agencies, Federations, Hillels, JCC’s, and organizations promoting social justice, camping, culture, education, Israel advocacy, community relations, and other areas of Jewish engagement.

Through HUC-JIR’s special relationship with USC, MA in Jewish Nonprofit Management students have the additional opportunity to pursue the following dual degrees at USC’s top-ranked graduate schools:

  • MPA at the Price School of Planning, Policy, and Development
  • MBA at the Marshall School of Business
  • MSW at the School of Social Work
  • Master of Communications Management at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism

“Our special relationship with USC allows us to offer a more diverse array of dual degree options than any other school educating Jewish professional leaders. And the mix of these disciplines in our classroom promotes a robust and dynamic learning environment,” notes Richard Siegel, SJNM Director.

The Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement (CMJE) is a partnership of the Omar Ibn Al Khattab Foundation, HUC-JIR, and USC’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture at the Dornslife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences. CMJE combines both a scholarly and grassroots organizing approach toward improving relations and understanding between Muslims and Jews locally, nationally and internationally. It provides resources for electives at HUC-JIR and USC classes in General Education, International Relations, and Religion. CMJE’s partners include Civilizations Exchange & Cooperation Foundation, which works with the U.S. State Department to bring Muslim delegations to the U.S. in order to experience how America deals with religious diversity. This program has brought leading scholars from Morocco, Qatar, and Indonesia to HUC-JIR to observe classes, conduct research in the libraries, and meet and study with HUC-JIR’s faculty, alumni, and students.

Thanks to the generous support of The Philip and Muriel Berman Foundation, CMJE is training HUC-JIR student interns in religious dialogue and Jewish-Muslim relations, and involving them in a new project dedicated to responding to antisemitism in the Muslim world.

“We hope to provide resources and expertise that will help us move forward in our relations with the Muslim world and Muslim individuals in order to build a future that is more secure and more hopeful for us all,” explains Dr. Reuven Firestone, CMJE Co-Director and Professor of Medieval Jewish Studies at HUC-JIR.

Dual-degree program student Natalie Farahan passes USC’s Trojan Horse mascot sculpture as she goes from her Jewish nonprofit management classes at HUC-JIR to her public administration classes at USC.

Engaging in Jewish-Muslim text study at HUC-JIR: Dr. Ibrahim al-Na`imi, former President of Qatar University and Chair of the Doha International Centre for Interfaith Dialogue; Dr. Reuven Firestone, Director, Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement; and Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels, N ’79, of Beth Shir Sholom, Santa Monica, CA.

Dr. C. L. Max Nikias, President of the University of Southern California, receives the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Rabbi David Ellenson and Dr. Joshua Holo, Dean, HUC-JIR/Jack H. Skirball Campus/Los Angeles.

A Sampling of Louchheim School Judaic Studies Courses Offered to USC Undergraduates.

Ancient Literature:
Magic in the Ancient World; Biblical Protagonists

Comparative Religious Studies:
Reading Scripture: the Qu’ran, New Testament, and Hebrew Bible in Dialogue

World History:
The Holocaust;
Zionism, Israel, and the Modern World

American Studies:
Judaism as an American Religion;
Jews in American Popular Culture

Social Issues:
Sex and Judaism;
Language, Community, Identity

Introduction to Judaism

Introduction to Jewish History;
Jewish Identity in Literature

Intercultural Studies
Blacks and Jews: Conflicts and Alliances;
Mixed Matches: Intermarriage in the 20th Century

Hebrew Language

Summary Financial Figures


MUM (Maintenance of Union Membership) – 23.1%

Fund Raising -48.5%

Investment -8.3%

Tuition (Gross) -12.7%

Contracted Services – 4.8%

Other -2.6%


Instruction -38.2%

Academic Support -14.0%

Maintenance -10.1%

Development -5.9%

Institutional Support -16.2%

Student Stipends & Scholarships -11.4%

Depreciation -4.2%