President's Report 2012-2013

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ADA Version of President’s Report 2012-2013

Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion

President’s Report 2012-2013

Legacy & New Leadership

Rabbi Aaron D. Panken, Ph.D.: President for a New Era Rabbi

David Ellenson, Ph.D.:  A Heritage of Leadership, Dedication, and Achievement

Investing for Growth
Michele and Martin Cohen

Uniting Israeli Rabbinical Students with North American Reform Jewry
John and Suzanne Golden & the Golden Family Foundation

Enhancing Leadership through Nonprofit Expertise
Marcie and Howard Zelikow

Preservation and Access: HUC-JIR’s Library Treasures

Empowering Innovation
Liz and Steven Gruber

Day School Teachers for a New Generation

HUC.EDU: A New Website to Engage the World

Faculty/Administration Appointments

Faculty Highlights & Publications

Graduation/Ordination Album

Summary Financial Figures

Honor Roll of Donors

COVERS Scaling new heights: HUC-JIR’s Year-In-Israel rabbinical, cantorial, and education students explored Israel’s southern region by visiting a variety of communities, learning about their diverse populations, and experiencing the spirituality of the desert. They ascended Mt. Shlomo in the Eilat Mountains, one of Israel’s most beautiful mountainous sites.


As I write this message, I am aware that my tenure as President has come to an end. To have served as President of this great institution is surely the greatest singular privilege of my professional life. The mission of this school – to provide religious and intellectual leaders for the Jewish people – is consonant with every value I hold most dear.

I am aware now – more than ever – of the historical truth that without a great Bet Midrash (House of Study) at its center no Jewish community can thrive. Your generosity has allowed HUC-JIR to be such a place, and I am eternally grateful to you for your role in sustaining the College-Institute. You have allowed it to fulfill its mission of service to the Jewish people and humanity in our day. For this, I can only say thank you. As I now assume the position of Chancellor, I would recite a portion of the prayer that our ancient Sages assigned for recitation by a student when study of a Talmudic tractate is completed. In that portion, the student expresses gratitude to God for “assigning me a place in the House of Study.” Those words capture my feelings exactly, and I will always be grateful that for more than forty years my place has been here at HUC-JIR.

May God continue to watch over you and your loved ones. And through the leadership that our new President Aaron Panken will provide, may this College-Institute enjoy blessing and success – brachah v’hatzlachah – as a House of Study in Israel for decades to come.

Rabbi David Ellenson ’77, Ph.D.

In Exodus 25:2 God asks the Israelites to bring terumah, sacred offerings, so that together they may build a beautiful sanctuary in which God’s presence may dwell among them in the desert. The key to this passage is its collectivity; it is only through the combined efforts of each member of the community that this sacred place can come into being.

Many wonderful gifts, originating long before our day, have created Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion as a place of God’s presence in this world. Our founders, Rabbis Isaac Mayer Wise and Stephen Samuel Wise, gave us the enduring vision for a North American seminary to serve Reform Judaism that today thrives as a treasured resource for the greater Jewish community throughout North America, Israel, and around the world. Our professional leaders have graced our institution with forethought, planning, and diversified programs to extend our reach while welcoming an ever-greater number of students. Our devoted lay leaders work tirelessly, offering extraordinary gifts of wisdom, devotion, and resources to ensure our mission.

Such blessed gifts are still given and received every day at HUC-JIR: when a professor does research in our libraries or Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives and discovers new insights that expand the boundaries of academic knowledge; and when students emerge with a deeper understanding of themselves, their community, and their faith. Acts of justice and compassion surge forth: clinical pastoral care in hospitals and social responsibility to the community at our Soup Kitchen, Barbash Vital Services Center, and Service Learning Program, and through the Union for Reform Judaism’s Just Congregations initiative. We promote Jewish renaissance with our Pesach Program in the Former Soviet Union. We strengthen the bonds between Israel and global Jewry through shared experiences, studies, and commitment. When learning and teaching, creativity and entrepreneurship, and vision and implementation all come together, we are able to broaden our horizon and embrace new paths.

The medieval midrash Midrash Lekach Tov suggests that whenever “for Me” appears in the Torah, as it does in this verse about sacred offerings, it indicates that the gifts are not for the immediate moment alone, but that they enjoy some measure of eternity. As we work together to advance the College-Institute, we are building not just for now, or for us, but for our descendants, for Jews all over the globe, to ensure a lasting and meaningful future for the inspiring tradition that we have received.

I am filled with gratitude for the friendship of my mentor and teacher, Rabbi David Ellenson, as I take on the sacred task of leading the College-Institute. And I am deeply appreciative to all of you – our faculty, students, administration, alumni, Board of Governors and Overseers, and friends – for your gifts that sustain our institution and contribute to the transmission of our precious heritage. I look forward to your vital partnership in the years ahead.

Rabbi Aaron D. Panken ’91, Ph.D.

Rabbi Aaron D. Panken, Ph.D.: President for a New Era

“I am greatly honored to be called to serve as the President of HUC-JIR and to strive for ongoing innovation and creativity in strengthening our institution as the intellectual center of Progressive Judaism worldwide.”

For nearly thirty years, Rabbi Aaron Panken’s life has been “I am greatly honored to be called intertwined with HUC-JIR, as a rabbinical student ordained in 1991, a member of the faculty teaching Rabbinic and Second Temple Literature since 1995, Dean of Students (1996-1998), Dean of the New York campus (1998-2007), and Vice President for Strategic Initiatives (2007-2010). On January 1, 2014, he took the helm as HUC-JIR’s 12th President in its 139- year history, and he is ready to advance his beloved institution to new heights of service and achievement.

“My mentor, teacher, and cherished friend, Rabbi David Ellenson, has set the highest standard for the presidency,” states Rabbi Panken. “It is precisely because I have served at his side for so many years that I can build on the firm foundation he has created through his vision, shared leadership, and warm and loving personality.”

Rabbi Panken now serves as the chief executive officer of the four-campus international institution of higher learning and seminary for Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR’s campuses in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York provide the academic and professional programs for the Reform Movement’s rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offer graduate programs for scholars and clergy of all faiths. HUC-JIR’s nearly 4,000 active alumni serve the Reform Movement’s 1.5 million members and nearly 900 congregations, representing the largest Jewish denomination in North America, and the growing Progressive Movement in Israel and around the world. They also serve in leadership positions in Jewish educational, communal, cultural, and social service institutions, in hospital and military chaplaincy roles, in Jewish summer camping and Israel youth programs, and at colleges and universities as faculty and directors of Hillel student centers.

In announcing Rabbi Panken’s election by the Board of Governors, Irwin Engelman, Chairman, stated, “We are proud that Dr. Panken, a distinguished rabbi, scholar, and teacher of our students, will be leading our institution. Guided by a vision for the future, he has implemented strategic planning initiatives, introduced new technology in support of student learning and administration, strengthened recruitment, launched new programs and partnerships, attracted significant support, and invigorated the ties linking our campuses with communities. His exemplary leadership and passionate commitment to Reform Judaism and the Jewish people worldwide will inspire HUC-JIR’s growth in the 21st century.”

A product of the Reform Movement, Rabbi Panken was educated and became a bar mitzvah at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in New York City, served as President of CRaFTY (NFTY’s New York City region), and spent summers at URJ Eisner Camp, where he first met his future wife Lisa Messinger. They married years later in 1992 and are the proud parents of Eli and Samantha.

As an electrical engineering major at Johns Hopkins University, he honed his methodical approach to problem solving – planning, building, testing, and revising – in biomedical engineering projects at its Medical School relating to cardiovascular and renal functions.

But by the summer before his senior year at Johns Hopkins, he realized that pursuing a career in a lab would not provide meaningful opportunities for Jewish learning and community building. During the next two years, he served as the regional youth director of NFTY’s Mid-Atlantic Federation of Temple Youth, a rewarding experience that confirmed that the rabbinate was his destined path. “In fact, I am among a number of family members who are devoted to Jewish leadership: my sister Rabbi Melinda Panken ’96, my sister-in-law Rabbi Sarah Messinger ’87, and Sarah’s husband Rabbi Jeffrey Eisenstat, as well as three presidents of Reform congregations – my wife Lisa Messinger, her sister Daryl Messinger, and Daryl’s husband Jim Heeger,” he says.

As a student at HUC-JIR, he embraced the intellectual rigor of text study, was nurtured by the mentorship of the faculty, and enjoyed the professional development experiences of his rab- binical internship at Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, NY, working with Rabbi Jack Stern ’52, z”l.

Under the tutelage of Dr. Michael Chernick, Professor of Rabbinic Literature and Deutsch Family Chair in Jurispru- dence and Social Justice at HUC-JIR/New York, he discovered a love for Talmud and continued to study with him even after ordination, when he served the pulpit at Congregation Rodeph Sholom in New York City. This led to a Wexner Graduate Fellowship and a doctorate in Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University with Dr. Lawrence Schiffman; the publication of his book The Rhetoric of Innovation: Self- Conscious Legal Change in Rabbinic Literature; and his continued research and scholarly articles on the historical development of legal concepts and terms, narrative development, and development of holiday observances.

Among Rabbi Panken’s many contributions to HUC-JIR, he points to a few that have fundamentally enriched HUC- JIR’s academic programs. The Gerecht Family Institute on Outreach and Conversion, which he established over fifteen years ago, provides required intensive, experiential learning for all rabbinical and cantorial students across all campuses on a pervasive issue in Jewish life today. “From the study of the relevant texts to orientation to the best practices of Reform clergy and lay leaders in synagogues throughout North America, students emerge better equipped to engage the shifting demography of American Jewry,” he explains.

During his tenure as Dean of the New York campus, Rabbi Panken raised significant funding for endowed faculty chairs, student scholarships, programmatic initiatives to deepen the educational offerings, and new institutes that created centers of intellectual excellence. He led the collaborative effort to introduce state-of-the-art e-classrooms, which made possible team-taught courses by faculty from all of our campuses for all of our students. These classrooms and other e-technology initiatives have also supported the growth of distance-learning executive and certificate programs in Jewish education, funded by the Jim Joseph Foundation, as well as the Cantorial Certification Program. Furthermore, information systems implemented under his guidance support student learning and assessment and the Jewish Studies Portal provides students with electronic access to the full scope of Jewish text sources.

Looking to the future, Rabbi Panken is committed to enhancing HUC-JIR as the source of thought leadership for the Reform Movement and the Jewish people. “We have the largest and most diverse Jewish studies faculty in the world. They are not only internationally renowned scholars but experts in applied research who are re-envisioning Jewish education, Jewish social policy, social responsibility, spiritual growth, interfaith relations, Judaism and health, and inclusiveness within our communities.”

At the same time, he is seeking to increase recruitment to yield a larger, more diverse array of students with varied academic interests in the arts, sciences, and humanities. “As a preeminent center for Jewish study in the world today, we have so much to offer in all of our programs. Our utilization of technology and executive cohort learning strategies expands our ability to reach prospective students wherever they are,” he says. “Our Jewish nonprofit management program (see page 14), for example, has great potential for educating individuals who are seeking to effect positive change, grounded in Jewish values, in the broad spectrum of non-governmental organizations and nonprofit agencies. In addition, we have attracted students from around the world for our programs in the U.S. and Israel and we hope to see more of them study with us. Our alumni provide the essential leadership for communities around the globe, fulfilling the observation of Rabbi Jacob Rader Marcus, z”l, founder of HUC-JIR’s American Jewish Archives, that ‘the sun never sets on a graduate of HUC-JIR.’”

Rabbi Panken points to Israel engagement as an ongoing priority. Recalling the impact of his own Year-In-Israel Program as a student, he asserts that “emerging Jewish leaders must be infused with a commitment to Israel and Jewish peoplehood.” He seeks to find new opportunities to invigorate the Jerusalem campus as a beacon of pluralistic, Progressive Judaism in Israel, as a center that educates Reform Jews, and as a meaningful destination for North American Jews traveling or celebrating life cycle events in Israel. Among the first initiatives to be launched during his presidency is the Golden Family Hanassi Fellowships, which will bring HUC-JIR’s Israeli rabbinical students to North American Reform congregations. “As our Israeli rabbinical students experience best practices in Jewish identity formation that they can then apply back home in Israel, they will also be forging meaningful relationships with diaspora Jewry,” he says.

“Our mission is to help our students grow into authentic Jewish thought leaders who are able to articulate and advance their own visions of a rich Jewish life for a new and rapidly changing religious landscape,” he notes. As a Jewish leader who bridges the religious and scientific worlds, Rabbi Panken values the capacity for entrepreneurship among HUC-JIR’s students. He takes pride in their ability to be change agents and transform Jewish experience and learning, whether by establishing a pluralistic mikveh in New York City, engaging with the millennial generation in cafes, clubs, and bookstores beyond the synagogue walls, or developing new ways to link Israeli and North America Jews through technology. He looks forward to supporting the application of imaginative, creative strategies to broaden Reform Judaism’s reach to the unaffiliated while enhancing Jewish life within the Movement.

Rabbi Panken is dedicated to strengthening HUC-JIR’s collaboration with the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), Women of Reform Judaism, the American Conference of Cantors, the National Association of Temple Educators, and other arms of the Movement. “As we invigorate our partnerships with Reform synagogues and the larger Reform Movement, we will shape a compelling message that will have an impact on the largest denomination of Jews in North America and the growing Progressive Jewish community in Israel and worldwide,” he states.

One of the first achievements of his presidency will be the incorporation of the URJ’s Campaign for Youth Engagement, on HUC-JIR’s New York campus this summer. “The synergy of the URJ’s professional youth leaders and HUC-JIR’s students and faculty will enrich the URJ’s youth engagement and potentially recruit more students for HUC-JIR’s programs.”

Rabbi Panken currently serves on the faculty for the Wexner Foundation and the Editorial Board of Reform Judaism Magazine, and has served on the Rabbinical Placement Commission, the Birthright Education Committee, the CCAR Ethics Committee, and in a variety of other leadership roles within the Reform Movement and greater Jewish community. He has lectured widely at academic conferences and synagogues throughout North America and served as visiting faculty at universities in Australia and China.

As a certificated commercial pilot and sailor, Rabbi Panken understands the challenges of charting each journey, from take-off to landing, and the careful preparations and thoughtful assessments that ensure success. He will apply that meticulous process and conscientious outlook as he charts the next steps of HUC-JIR’s development and growth. “By nurturing the collaborative spirit of our faculty, staff, students, alumni, and Boards of Governors and Overseers, we can bring forth new projects and programs that will reimagine Jewish learning, transform the Jewish community, and extend the College-Institute’s leadership in Jewish higher education throughout the seminary and university world.”

Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D.: A Heritage of Leadership, Dedication, and Achievement

“As President, I have tried with all my heart, with all my soul, and with all my might to fulfill my responsibility to our community with compassion and respect, with intelligence and love.”

The hallmark of Rabbi David Ellenson’s presidency of the College-Institute has been his belief that “throughout our people’s history, no Jewish community has survived without a strong institution of higher Jewish learning at its core.” As he reflects on his twelve years of leading HUC-JIR, he says, “It has been my privilege to help ensure the vitality of the College-Institute by sustaining our campuses, nurturing our world-class faculty, supporting our students, preserving the treasures of our libraries and American Jewish Archives, strengthening our role in Israel, and preparing the leadership for a contemporary Judaism that balances tradition with the demands of a changing world.”

Rabbi Ellenson’s tenure as President (2001-2013) has been distinguished by his devotion to HUC-JIR’s academic excellence while ensuring its fiscal sustainability. As he embarks on his new role as the College-Institute’s Chancellor, Rabbi Ellenson will continue to focus teaching, scholarship, and publication in his areas of Jewish religious thought, ethics, and modern Jewish history.

Rabbi Ellenson steered HUC-JIR through the economic crisis in 2008-2009 and implemented strategic planning initiatives. He was successful securing HUC-JIR’s four campuses in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York as viable and essential venues for recruitment, service to the Reform Movement’s congregations, and educational and cultural outreach to communities throughout these regions.

With the support of devoted donors and friends, he raised over $250 million and quadrupled HUC-JIR’s endowment to over $200 million today. From a budget deficit of $10 million only five years ago, HUC-JIR’s budget has been virtually balanced since the 2012 fiscal year through a reduction of expenses and increases in revenue. At the same time, he effected greater integration among the campuses through the introduction of electronic classrooms, cross-campus courses, and accreditation of the three stateside campuses under one accrediting agency, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

“Rabbi David Ellenson has brought a rare combination of intelligence, inspirational leadership, and humility to his presidency of HUC-JIR,” says Irwin Engelman, Chairman of HUC-JIR’s Board of Governors. “He has led the College-Institute with devotion, distinction, and achievement, and has advanced HUC-JIR to a position of financial stability while implementing a broad range of new initiatives an academic programs. Recognized as a giant in the Jewish world, he has strengthened the faculty, modeled exemplary leadership for our students, and expanded the image of the College-Institute. It has been a privilege to be his partner in securing HUC-JIR’s future as the preeminent institution of higher Jewish learning in North America.”

Embracing innovation and change, Rabbi Ellenson nurtured a new generation of Deans and Directors of academic programs to help implement his vision. He strengthened the faculty with the addition of leading emerging scholars, equalized the number of men and women on the faculty, and brought on Debbie Friedman, z”l. He inaugurated ten new endowed chairs for emerging scholars and tenured faculty. He encouraged faculty research and publication, resulting in scores of new books and scholarly articles each year. He championed HUC-JIR’s scholarly publishing arms, supporting the HUC Annual, Hebrew Union College Press, American Jewish Archives Annual, and publications by the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology.

“Today’s changing Jewish world requires leaders with a depth of knowledge and a broad range of skills,” says Rabbi Ellenson, who invigorated HUC-JIR’s stateside programs through a myriad of initiatives. The professional leadership development of HUC-JIR’s students was transformed through the creation of the Tisch Fellows, Schusterman Fellows, Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music Fellows, Mandel Fellows, Jim Joseph Fellows, and Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati Service Learning Fellows programs. Rabbi Ellenson instituted social responsibility and community service to the Jewish and larger world as a core pillar of students’ professional development through programs with the American Jewish World Service and other organizations. The spiritual development of HUC-JIR’s students is now nurtured through the support of the Joyce and Irving Goldman Foundation and through new partnerships with the Institute for Jewish Spirituality and the Society for Classical Reform Judaism. Pastoral care studies were enhanced through the Blaustein Center for Pastoral Counseling in New York and Jerusalem, Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health in Los Angeles, and Clinical Pastoral Education in Cincinnati, where HUC-JIR became the nation’s first Jewish seminary to offer this training.

Recognizing that HUC-JIR had the thought leadership, applied research expertise, and technological capacity to reach learners wherever they are, new distance learning degree and certificate programs were introduced, with the support of the Jim Joseph Foundation.

Students from throughout North America now participate in the Executive M.A. Program in Jewish Education, the Certificate in Jewish Education for Adolescents and Emerging Adults, and the Jewish Early Childhood Education Leadership Institute (in partnership with the Jewish Theological Seminary [JTS]). The Cantorial Certification Program was inaugurated with the help of the American Conference of Cantors. The Leadership Institute for Congregational School Educators, in partnership with UJA-Federation of New York and JTS, offered educators enhanced knowledge and skills to become change agents in their congregations.

“My entire scholarly and intellectual project has been informed by my attempts to understand how different Jewish individuals and groups have responded to the challenge of affirming Jewish meaning in a world where being Jewish is no longer required.”

“HUC-JIR is the conservator of the intellectual, historical, cultural, and spiritual treasures of the Jewish people,” Rabbi Ellenson says, explaining why he focused on strengthening the campuses and their research resources and facilities. In Cincinnati, he spearheaded the renovation of the renowned Klau Library and dedication of its Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati International Learning Center; the construction of the Edwin A. Malloy Education Building and its Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati Electronic Classroom at the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives; and creation of the Joan and Phillip Pines Faculty Center and Sue and Jerry Teller Student Lounge. The Los Angeles campus was renamed in memory of Jack H. Skirball, z”l. The Jerusalem campus was comprehensively renovated, and the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music was dedicated in New York.

“Being a rabbi, cantor, educator, or Jewish nonprofit professional requires the internalization of an ethos of peoplehood – of solidarity with the Jewish people – and this cannot happen if students do not experience the miracle of Jewish national rebirth in the land of Israel,” Rabbi Ellenson states. As a staunch advocate of Israel engagement for HUC-JIR’s students, he sustained the continuity of the Year-In-Israel Program in 2001-2002 in the face of the Second Intifada. He further enriched the Year-In-Israel Program for HUC-JIR’s first-year students with the creation of the Richard J. Scheuer Seminar and Mandel Initiative for Visionary Leadership, and implemented Israel Seminars for HUC-JIR’s graduate students and Executive M.A. in Jewish Education students, alongside the successful Israel Seminar for students in the School of Jewish Nonprofit Management.

“Nothing was impressed upon me more by both my parents than the miracle and importance of the State of Israel and a love for and responsibility to the entire Jewish people,” he recalls. These memories inspired him to strengthen the Jerusalem campus and outreach to the larger Israeli community, resulting in the exponential growth of the Israel Rabbinical Program, preparing leaders for Israel’s Progressive Movement’s synagogues and communities.

Furthermore, he initiated the development of a new M.A. Program in Pluralistic Jewish Education (with the Hebrew University’s Melton Centre), and the creation of the Blaustein Center for Pastoral Counseling and its pioneering programs introducing chaplaincy and bibliotherapy to Israeli society.

“My mother’s advanced Jewish learning, Hebraic skills, and leadership in the community have always remained with me,” Rabbi Ellenson recalls. “It has been my cause to support gender equality in Jewish life and leadership.” Under his watch, the governance of HUC-JIR was transformed with the election of Barbara Friedman as the first woman Chair in the history of the institution and the induction of a large number of distinguished women communal and civic leaders as members of the Board of Governors and regional Boards of Overseers.

“My decision to center so many of my investigations on responsa literature and modern Jewish prayerbooks reflects my deepest personal commitments to Judaism and the State of Israel as well as scholarship as a means of illuminating an understanding of life for myself, my Jewish community, and others in the larger world,” Rabbi Ellenson notes. Prior to his presidency, his books included Tradition in Transition: Orthodoxy, Halakhah and the Boundaries of Modern Jewish History (1989), Rabbi Esriel Hildesheimer and the Creation of a Modern Jewish Orthodoxy (1990) (nominated for the National Jewish Book Council’s award for outstanding book in Jewish History, 1990), and Between Tradition and Culture: The Dialectics of Jewish Religion and Identity in the Modern World (1994). During his presidency, Rabbi Ellenson published After Emancipation: Jewish Religious Responses to Modernity, which won the National Jewish Book Council’s Award as the outstanding book in Jewish Thought in 2005, and co-authored with Daniel Gordis the volume Pledges of Jewish Allegiance: Conversion, Law, and Policymaking in 19th-and 20th-Century Orthodox Responsa (2012), which was named a Finalist for the National Jewish Book Council’s Award in Scholarship in 2012. His next book, Jewish Meaning in a World of Choice, will be published by the Jewish Publication Society-University of Nebraska Scholar of Distinction Series in 2014.

A prolific writer on emerging trends in American Jewish life, he has advocated for Jewish day schools and spoken out on controversies in North American society, including LGBT rights, marriage equality, stem cell research, and abortion ban laws. Furthermore, he has been a champion of the State of Israel’s right to security and peace in the face of Iran’s threats and the challenges of the Israel-Palestinian peace process. He has called for religious tolerance and pluralism in Israel on issues relating to who is a Jew, conversion laws, rabbinical bans on renting to Arabs, women’s rights, and annulment of conversions. Through all of these efforts, he has demonstrated a passionate commitment to the people and State of Israel and the central role that Israel plays in the Reform Movement.

Widely respected for his scholarship, integrity, and menschlichkeit, Rabbi Ellenson’s collaborative leadership has reflected his commitment to advancing Jewish unity. He forged closer ties between HUC-JIR and the Union for Reform Judaism, Central Conference of American Rabbis, Women of Reform Judaism, and the other arms of the Reform Movement. At the same time, he fostered inter-denominational and interfaith relations and strengthened relationships among the Jewish seminaries, secular universities, and institutions of other faiths, including the University of Southern California, New York University, University of Cincinnati, Xavier University, and Hebrew University through academic and programmatic partnerships and collegiality.

After being part of the College-Institute for 40 years – first as a student at the New York campus, then as a faculty member in Los Angeles, and for the past twelve years as HUC-JIR President – Rabbi Ellenson concludes, “My soul is forever bound to this institution and the sacred mission that animates it: the training and education of religious, communal, educational, and intellectual leaders for the Reform Movement and the Jewish people. As President, I have tried with all my heart, with all my soul, and with all my might to fulfill my responsibility to our community with compassion and respect, with intelligence and love.”


Dr. Norman J. Cohen Chair for an Emerging Scholar

Rabbi Jerome K. Davidson Chair in Social Responsibility

Rabbi David Ellenson Chair in Jewish Religious Thought

Barbara and Stephen Friedman Chair in Liturgy, Worship, and Spirituality

Dr. Alfred Gottschalk – John and Marianne Slade Chair for an Emerging Scholar in Jewish Intellectual History

Professor Sara S. Lee Chair for an Emerging Scholar in Jewish Education

Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Provost Chair

Rabbi Michael Matuson Chair for an Emerging Scholar

Emily S. and Rabbi Bernard H. Mehlman Chair in Rabbinics

Dr. Paul M. and Trudy Steinberg Chair in Human Relations and Counseling


“Success in business is contingent upon assessing trends, anticipating the future, and implementing new ideas,” explains Martin Cohen, a member of the Board of Governors and Chair of the Presidential Search Committee. “Over the past five years, as I spent considerable time at every campus and with each of our Deans, I began to appreciate the resources we have and recognized our untapped potential. In this fast changing world we need to be opportunistic. And we need to improve the general level of awareness of our mission, our programs, and our successes.”

Martin and Michele Cohen (at right) are making this possible with a $5 million gift, to be spent over the next five years, to plan, implement, and evaluate initiatives that will generate income, enhance visibility, expand utilization of the four campuses, and reimagine facilities to best support the core mission as well as new activities.

This innovative enterprise will be headed up by a new Vice President for Programming and Business Development “whose radar is focused on opportunities.” Cohen is enthusiastic about the prospect of professional staff unconstrained by budget and working collaboratively with the Deans. “The key to entrepreneurship is to not have a fear of failing. Not everything may work, but by having the talent and capital in hand we can move ahead with confidence. We wanted to make a gift that has an impact today.”

Cohen points to the potential of the Jerusalem campus where he was in the lead in supporting its renovation. “Our campus in Israel is one of our most magnificent assets. With the right commercial orientation and marketing expertise, there are yet unimagined ways in which this facility can be used. It is irreplaceable and can be developed as a center not only for the Reform Movement but for the Jewish people at large.”

As members of Temple Israel of New York City for thirty years, Cohen says, “Michele and I strongly identify as Jews and with Judaism’s values and principles, especially the liberal approach of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR attracts us as a place where we have a sense of history and identity.”

Cohen recalls that he joined the Board of Governors in 2008, when the world was in financial turmoil, because it was precisely at this challenging moment that his financial expertise could help make a difference. “Rabbi Ellenson, I, and our dedicated Board agreed that it was not a time for panic, but for patience, and our perspective proved to be correct. With the generosity of donors and Board members and the improvement of the financial markets, we weathered the storm and emerged even stronger.”

HUC-JIR is now on solid financial footing and the endowment is over $200 million. “But the heavy dependence on philanthropy is not a great model,” he cautions. “Although we will always be in need of donor support and should continue to build up our endowment, we need a program of recurring revenue that will make us sustainable long into the future. There are a variety of ways to accomplish this.”

Cohen brings insights from the secular academic world to his work for HUC-JIR. As Chairman of the 21st Century Foundation of the City College of New York, his alma mater, he has seen the impact of his philanthropy on the science programs, faculty and administration, and student scholarships there. Affordable higher education for CCNY’s students, many of them immigrants or first-generation Americans, he says, brings forth Rhodes Scholars, Fulbrights, and promising professional futures. He discerns parallels in the need for scholarships and support for HUC-JIR’s students preparing for service to the Jewish world.

The Cohens’ transformative gift comes at a propitious time at HUC-JIR, as a new President takes the helm. “We are excited to have Rabbi Panken start in a good place, with the resources readily available to effect growth and change. If you want to have the greatest impact, spend it now and the investment will bear fruit for a long time to come.”

Uniting Israeli Rabbinical Students with North American Reform Jewry

“It is one thing to talk about the relationship between Israel and North America. It is another to do something about that relationship.

It is one thing to make pronouncements about the need for a vital pluralistic Jewish alternative in Israel. It is another to help equip the men and women who are molding this alternative with the inspiration and the tools they need to make a difference.

The Golden Family Hanassi Fellows will be given an opportunity to be exposed to what is taking place in some of the finest and most active congregations in North America. The program will help create relationships which can grow and take root. Our Israeli students, and those hosting them, will be impacted in what I believe will be important ways.

It is one ”thing to dream. it is even better to act to fulfill a dream.”

Rabbi Michael Marmur ’92, Ph.D.
Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Provost

During Yom Kippur and Sukkot 2012, Israeli rabbinical student Alona Nir participated in a unique experience: a ten-day residency at the Community Synagogue in Port Washington, NY, mentored by Rabbi Irwin Zeplowitz ’84. Upon her return to Israel, Nir says this experience greatly enhanced her capacity to engage Israelis who are seeking spiritual meaning in a society polarized between ultra-orthodox and secular approaches to religious life.

“Leading services and teaching in congregational education programs across all generations provided me with a stronger understanding of the ongoing process of Jewish identity formation and affiliation within the North American Reform Movement,” she explains. “At the same time, congregants looked to me for answers to their many questions regarding contemporary Israeli life, culture, and politics.” Nir is continuing this dialogue in her current role as the Jewish Agency for Israel shlicha (emissary from Israel) for the Union for Reform Judaism in New York.

Inspired by the success of Alona Nir’s experiences, John Golden, Co-Chair of the HUC-JIR Board of Governors Israel Committee, and the Golden Family Foundation have provided a generous grant to initiate a five-year program that will bring Israeli rabbinical students into closer contact with the North American Reform Movement.

“As we move farther away from generations with shared experiences, Israeli and American Jews need to understand more about each other’s special cultures,” Golden states. “HUC-JIR has done a wonderful job of bringing North American and other non-Israeli Reform Jews to study and absorb Israeli culture and life experiences through our Year- In-Israel Program. We are now pleased to inaugurate the Hanassi Fellowships to serve as a bridge in the other direction, so that Israeli rabbinical students at HUC-JIR in Jerusalem can be more deeply exposed to Reform Jewry in North America.”

John and Suzanne Golden have made this gift in honor of Rabbi David Ellenson’s extraordinary tenure as HUC-JIR President and in recognition of their personal ties to Kibbutz Kfar Hanassi near Rosh Pina in the Galil Elyon, where their daughter Emily lived, studied, and met her husband.

Two Israeli rabbinical students have been chosen as the inaugural Hanassi Fellows. They will participate in inten- sive pre-visit orientation, spend two weeks with their host congregation in North America, and return for an additional two-week residency, ideally during major holidays. Following their residencies, they will continue to be mentored by their North American host clergy through on-line meetings.

With 84 graduates of the Israel Rabbinical Program to date, and an additional 23 rabbinical students preparing for ordination, HUC-JIR/Jerusalem provides the leadership for the Israel Progressive (Reform) Movement amid formidable political, religious, and economic challenges. There are 42 Progressive Jewish communities flourishing across Israel, in addition to a burgeoning network of kindergartens, youth programs, leadership development initiatives, and volunteer activities dedicated to advancing pluralism.

Reflecting on her transformative experience, Alona Nir concludes, “It is a privilege to help forge stronger links of commitment and identification between Reform Jews and congregations in North America and the people and State of Israel.”


Israeli rabbinical student Michal Ratner Ken will be working at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in Short Hills, NJ, guided by Senior Rabbi Matthew Gewirtz ’97. An innovative leader heading a new community in the Megiddo Regional Council, she has served as an educator for over twenty years, specializing in informal education, teacher training, and curriculum development. She studied Political Science and Communications at Bar Ilan University and completed her M.A. in Jewish Studies at the Schechter Institute. “The Judaism I wish to teach is respectful, creative, deep, and meaningful. We should understand the sources that define our identity, and evaluate, criticize, and use them to embrace the spirit of Judaism as a creative force in our lives.”

Israeli rabbinical student Tamara Shifrin will serve Temple Sinai of Roslyn, NY, mentored by Senior Rabbi Michael A. White ‘89. Prior to studying at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem, she was a computer programmer and systems designer for many years and founded a pluralistic school in Kiryat Ono. She graduated from Bar Ilan University in Social Science and is currently completing her M.A. in Talmud there. “Jewish studies and large computer systems share similar traits. Both are supposed to be based on logic, both constantly test boundaries, and both have to cope with change while keeping going. I hope to guide more Israelis to enjoy the logic within the rules, to ask questions, and to find the place to pray that I have discovered.”


Marcie and Howard Zelikow

“The key to ensuring a vibrant Jewish future is preparing excellent Jewish leaders who, in addition to their deep Judaic knowledge and pastoral capacity, are also proficient in the core nonprofit professional skills that are essential today, including management, fundraising, organizational change, and strategic planning,” asserts Marcie Zelikow, Chair of the School of Jewish Nonprofit Management (SJNM) Advisory Board and a member of HUC-JIR’s Board of Governors. “Such professional development will provide Jewish leaders of today and tomorrow with the expertise to sustain, transform, and create institutions, in partnership with their lay leaders.”

Richard Siegel, SJNM Director, agrees. “Now more than ever, Jewish organizations, whether start-ups or legacy institutions, need business-savvy, Jewishly educated, and visionary professional leaders to help them address the enormous challenges facing the Jewish world and the broader society.” As the first Jewish communal service graduate program established in America, the SJNM continues to be the premier graduate school training nonprofit professionals today and is poised to broaden its impact.

Marcie and Howard Zelikow, active leaders and supporters of Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills, CA, are strong advocates for the SJNM’s unique mission: providing a practice-based graduate education for new generations of Jewish professionals to shape the future of the American Jewish community. They have made a $1 million gift that will help the SJNM become a truly national, and even international, resource.

The Zelikows’ support will help the SJNM extend its reach beyond the Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles. Plans are developing to offer cross campus courses, online learning, and hybrid educational models to enable rabbinical, cantorial, and education students in Cincinnati, New York, and Jerusalem to take SJNM courses and study with SJNM faculty. The first cross-campus course in “Fundraising and Financial Resource Development” will be offered in the Fall of 2014. More ambitiously, the SJNM is looking at offering training in nonprofit management for rabbis, cantors, educators, and communal professionals already in the field, such as an Executive M.A. in Jewish Nonprofit Management or continuing professional education certifications in fundraising, organizational change, or social entrepreneurship.

“Howard and I are very deliberate in our philanthropy and give thoughtful consideration to our allocations,” she explains. “We decided that we wanted to make a gift that would have a more profound impact on the future of Jewish organizational life by preparing the professional leaders for future generations. We feel that the only way in which congregations and Jewish agencies and institutions are guaranteed to thrive going forward is if they have well-trained leaders able to guide them.”

Zelikow was first exposed to Jewish communal leadership through her family’s activism in Cleveland. This heritage motivated her to become a lay leader at Federation and Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles, where she first met Jerry Bubis, SJNM founder. His invitation to join the SJNM Advisory Board has led to a decade of rewarding and meaningful experiences for Zelikow, who describes her personal fulfillment as a mentor to SJNM students. “It is exciting to be with young people who are focused on effecting positive change in our world. At a time in our society when there is a pervasive sense of loss of confidenc in the future, the SJNM students express an optimism that is truly inspiring.”

In addition to expanding the scope of the SJNM impact throughout HUC-JIR, the Zelikow gift will secure the biennial SJNM Israel Seminar for the next several years by matching a very generous grant from a foundation that wishes to remain anonymous. This two-week seminar provides an intensive look at the nonprofit arena in Israel and the complex interaction of private, public, and nonprofit enterprise. As a vital component of the SJNM curriculum, this program helps students cultivate a more sophisticated understanding of Israeli society and forge professional relationships with their Israeli counterparts. Furthermore, this experience enhances their capacity to foster stronger Israel engagement within the North American Jewish communities they will lead one day.

“Our investment in the SJNM is an investment in the Jewish future. We are proud to support the SJNM’s ever growing impact on Jewish life in the Reform Movement and across the Jewish landscape, today and for the generations to come,” says Zelikow.


With over 500,000 printed books and many thousands of special collection items, including manuscripts, computer files, microforms, maps, broadsides, bookplates, tablets, and stamps, the Klau Library in Cincinnati has the largest Judaica collection in the western hemisphere and is second in size only to the Judaica collection at the National Library of Israel.

“HUC-JIR prides itself on its justly earned international reputation as a leader in making its library resources available as widely as possible,” says Dr. David Gilner, Director of Libraries.

This past year, HUC-JIR entered into an agreement with the National Library of Israel [NLI], allowing the NLI to provide access to Hebrew manuscripts located in HUC- JIR’s four campus library system as part of the NLI’s project to photograph Hebrew manuscripts scattered in libraries around the world.

The next significant initiative is the digitization of HUC- JIR’s Eduard Birnbaum and Isaac Offenbach Collections of Jewish Music, the largest assemblage of Jewish liturgical music predating 1840. These extraordinary manuscript and archival materials – numbering about 250,000 items – span the period from 1770 to 1920 from a wide array of Jewish traditions across Europe.

Eduard Birnbaum, a cantor in Koenigsberg, assembled thousands of original manuscripts from the leading cantors of the 18th and 19th centuries in Amsterdam, Italy, Germany, and Eastern Europe, documenting the development of synagogue music. Isaac Offenbach, a cantor in Cologne and father of the famous opera composer Jacques Offenbach, collated his 57 compositions of 1800-1850 into the largest collection of any single 19th-century cantor/composer. The Offenbach Collection was donated to HUC-JIR by Isaac Offenbach’s two granddaughters. Had these collections not been acquired by Hebrew Union College in 1923, they surely would have been destroyed during the Holocaust.

HUC-JIR has engaged the services of Ardon Bar-Hama,  an Israeli consultant who provided the photography and digitization for a searchable music archive for the New York Philharmonic. To date, the pre-1840 Birnbaum manuscripts and the entire Offenbach collection have been digitized, yielding 10,000 images with another 50,000 in process; these and the remaining images will be completely indexed. But this represents only 10% of the entire Birnbaum and Offenbach collections. Next steps include securing the resources for 150,000 images of the most important documents and developing a searchable, interactive website environment for these Collections.

HUC-JIR has engaged the services of Ardon Bar-Hama, an Israeli consultant who provided the photography and digitization for a searchable music archive for the New York Philharmonic. To date, the pre-1840 Birnbaum manuscripts and the entire Offenbach collection have been digitized, yielding 10,000 images with another 50,000 in process; these and the remaining images will be completely indexed. But this represents only 10% of the entire Birnbaum and Offenbach collections. Next steps include securing the resources for 150,000 images of the most important documents and developing a searchable, interactive website environment for these Collections.

“This project will provide music scholars and musicians first-hand access to manuscripts documenting the oldest synagogue music in both the Ashkenazic and Sephardic traditions and offer a unique perspective on European examples of Jewish music that have received limited study,” says Dr. Mark L. Kligman, Professor of Jewish Musicology at HUC-JIR/New York and Musicological Advisor.

This phase of digitization of the Birnbaum and Offenbach Collections has been made possible by very generous leadership gifts from Marilyn Ziering and a foundation that wishes to remain anonymous.

MUS 53: Inside cover and title page. This unique manuscript, dated 1790-1791, records 453 melodies of Cantor Aron Beer of Berlin and many other cantors. Cantor Beer notes that this volume includes those melodies he used each week to lead Shabbat services.

MUS ADD 11b: Title page of the second of two volumes by Michele Bolaffi of music he composed for the Leghorn Synagogue in Italy in 1825 and 1826 for one-two voices with choir and basso continuo accompaniment.

MS 824: Seder birkat erusin, 1814-1815. This cantor’s marriage ceremony manual from the Great Synagogue of London includes 16 items, with the melodies written from right to left to accommodate the text written in Hebrew. It is the oldest musical manuscript to document melodies sung at a wedding.

MUS 30a, page 5a: Hodu for Shavuot by Levie (Hazzan Israel Lovy), Koblenz, c. 1810. Lovy served in Fürth, Regensburg, and Paris, and composed this music for Meshorerim (three singers: a cantor, bass, and boy soprano). This composition reflects the classical music style found in sonatas by Haydn and Mozart.


“Investing in companies is really investing in people and in leaders,” states Steven Gruber, a private equity investor and graduate of the University of Chicago Business School. “Providing support to HUC- JIR follows the same principle. The College-Institute is the cornerstone in the development of the Reform Jewish leaders of tomorrow. As such, in giving to HUC-JIR we are investing in the future of our Movement.”

As a member of Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, NY, whose professional staff has included Rabbi Aaron Panken, HUC-JIR President, and Rabbi Rick Jacobs, URJ President, “you get a great window onto what HUC-JIR is doing and the impact it has on students,” Gruber explains. “And when you are in a synagogue that has student interns and an assistant rabbi or cantor who is a recent graduate, you not only see the impact, but also their professional growth as they progress. HUC-JIR is a part of their ongoing development as leaders.” Furthermore, he and his wife Liz have enjoyed seeing numerous children of the congregation grow up to become students at HUC-JIR in recent years.

Gruber recalls that during the first eight months of his membership on the Eastern Region Board of Overseers, he was impressed by “the first-rate quality of HUC-JIR’s programs.” He notes, however, that “the activities that seemed to excite the students, administration, and Overseers the most included experimental projects that the students were doing outside of school. Unfortunately, HUC-JIR had not yet developed a way to be supportive, rather than just encouraging, for these skills and opportunities.”

As someone who is always thinking about how to do things differently, Gruber feels strongly that the future of liberal Judaism “lies in our capacity to try new things, adapt, and change.” He adds, “Most great new ideas come from individuals in their 20s.”

Pointing to the ways in which business schools teach students to be entrepreneurial, he presented a challenge to Rabbi Shirley Idelson ’91, Ph.D., Dean of HUC-JIR/New York.” I know that you cannot turn HUC-JIR into a business school, but there is a way to do this thoughtfully in concert with the mission. This is a great idea – and if it works, I will fund it.”

After careful consideration and planning, Rabbi Idelson launched the Be Wise Entrepreneurial Grants Competition fourteen months later. This new initiative, now in its second year, encourages students’ capacity to think outside of the box. “Whether it is founding new prayer communities or a pluralistic mikveh, or exploring new ways for music and the arts to engender spirituality, or new thinking about the role of religion and ethics in addressing environmental concerns, young people need to come up with answers for problems to be solved,” Gruber says.

The results have exceeded Gruber’s expectations. “I have been really im- pressed by the students’ commitment to fulfill their projects while balanc- ing the demands of full-time studies. They are embracing this initiative as a formative experience in their leadership development as they learn how to lead. Strengthening their abil- ities to recognize opportunities and to serve as change agents is a source of empowerment. As they encounter what does and does not work, they better understand the creative process and how a great idea may be actu- alized in unexpected ways. Whether you are in the business world or a rabbinical seminary, you can encour- age creativity, entrepreneurship, and leadership development by applying lessons from elsewhere and applying them to Jewish concerns.”

In addition to the Be Wise initiative, Steve and Liz Gruber have supported an annual scholarship for the past five years. They have now increased their support to a permanent endowed scholarship for students on the New York campus, with a different recipient designated each year. “Scholarships are a giving opportunity where you can see the recipients and watch them grow into leaders. This is a really rewarding experience, because people who give get as much as the recipient does.”

The bottom line for the Grubers is that “the College-Institute is an anchor in Reform Judaism, through teaching and continuous learning. Liberal Judaism without HUC-JIR as its foundation would not be possible.”


Cantor Sarah Krevsky ’13, and cantorial student Rayna green ’14, won the 2013 Be Wise Entrepreneurial grants Competition with their project to create a communal songbook of music composed by Cantor Benjie Schiller, Professor of Cantorial Arts at HUC-JIR/New York. Krevsky and green explain the roots and rewards of their project:

A beautiful new song was introduced at services during our 2012 kallah, and soon the whole community was creating harmonies with ease. Some sat in awe of the beautiful composition, while others quietly whispered to their neighbor, “Do you know who wrote that? Where can I get the music?”

We discovered that Cantor Schiller was the composer, and that this was a communal lifecycle composition among the many that she has composed to bring people together in song at HUC-JIR. Since most of these works are unpublished, we recognized that there was a unique opportunity to compile this material in a songbook. Cantor Schiller offered us her enthusiastic support, and we embarked on crafting a songbook that will focus on creating communal spiritual moments. Our goal is to share this music with clergy, lay leaders, congregants, and choirs who will be inspired to new spiritual heights through her innovative compositions featuring unfamiliar texts and a new perspective on liturgy.

As we embarked on this project as entrepreneurs in our own way, we learned that passion goes a long way. We internalized the sage advice to “adapt as you move forward.” Preparing this songbook has been a rewarding learning experience that has deepened our relationship with Cantor Schiller, our classmates, and colleagues. We are thrilled that Eglash Publishing will publish this volume. With the support of the Be Wise Entrepreneurial Grant, we are able to realize our dream.

Day School Teachers for a New Generation

“Jewish day schools have become one of the fastest growing institutions on the American Jewish landscape. The increase in the number of Jewish day schools has created a need for more and better-trained teachers,” says Dr. Michael Zeldin, Senior National Director of the Schools of Education and Director of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education (RHSOE) and DeLeT.

To serve that growing need, DeLeT – Day School Teachers for a New Generation, a RHSOE program, has fostered emerging Jewish educators committed to teaching excellence in Jewish day schools in North America. In recognition of the impact of this program, the Jim Joseph Foundation has provided a renewed grant of $588,000 to support DeLeT for the 2014-2015 academic year.

DeLeT Fellows participate in a 13-month program, which uniquely combines graduate-level course- work and a yearlong internship in a Jewish Day School in Los Angeles, San Diego, or the San Francisco Bay Area, where they integrate opportunities for Jewish learning into the general curriculum. They receive a full-tuition scholarship and a generous stipend and emerge with a California Preliminary Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and a Certificate in Jewish Day School Teaching. Nearly 200 day school teachers have participated in DeLeT at HUC-JIR, along with its partner DeLeT program at Brandeis University.

Dr. Zeldin states, “We are grateful for this extraordinary grant, which offers prospective Jewish educators a unique opportunity to see what innovation in Jewish day schools is all about. Along the way, they will find the path to fulfill their values and goals while making a difference in the lives of children and their families.”


HUC-JIR’s website has been completely redesigned with attractive graphics, enhanced navigation, updated content, innovative learning opportunities, and video features. The responsive design allows visitors to enjoy our site on all desktop, tablet, and mobile devices.

Our new website encourages you to:

  • Kickstart your career at HUC-JIR
  • Learn with the world’s greatest scholars wherever you are, whether you are a student, alumnus/a, Board member, or visitor from the world at large
  • Explore our research resources and community engagement programs at our campuses
  • Connect with the open spirit of Reform Judaism
  • Discover how HUC-JIR makes a difference in the world and can help you do so too

This two-year project, initiated by Rabbi Aaron Panken, has been led by the Website Team of Jean Bloch Rosensaft, Assistant Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs; John Bruggeman, Chief Technology Officer; Allison Glazer, National Public Affairs Coordinator; and Justin Sovine, National Web Manager.

The Board of Governors Communications Committee, chaired by Jay H. Geller, helped ensure that stakeholders across the institution served as advisors and reviewed the website at each stage of its development, from information architecture to wireframes and design. Administration, faculty, students, members of the Boards of Governors and Overseers, and alumni continue to provide content for the site on an ongoing basis.

We are grateful to the Jim Joseph Foundation, John and Suzanne Golden and the Golden Family Foundation, the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati, and the Croll Center for Jewish Learning and Culture, whose support has made this new website possible.


Jason Kalman, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Classical Hebrew Literature and Interpretation and Gottschalk-Slade Chair in Jewish Intellectual History, has been granted tenure at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati.
With research interests including Dead Sea Scrolls reception history, rabbinic anti-Christian polemic, medieval intellectual history as reflected in biblical commentary, and biblical interpretation after the Holocaust, he is the co- author of Canada’s Big Biblical Bargain: How McGill University Bought the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Jonathan Krasner, Ph.D., Associate Professor of the American Jewish Experience, has been granted tenure at HUC-JIR/New York.
Focusing on American Jewish history, culture, and sociology, historyof education, and gender and sexuality, he is the National Jewish Book Award-winning author of The Benderly Boys and American Jewish Education.

Wendy Zierler, Ph.D., has been promoted to Professor of Modern Jewish Literature and Feminist Studies at HUC-JIR/ New York.
Specializing in language and literature, she is the author of And Rachel Stole the Idols: The Emergence of Modern Hebrew Women’s Writing and co-editor of Behikansi Atah (The Collected Writings of Hava Shapiro), and its forthcoming English edition, Mother of All Living.

Abby S. Schwartz has been appointed Interim Director of the Skirball Museum at HUC-JIR/ Cincinnati.
Former curator of education at the Taft Museum of Art in Cincinnati, she is the general editor of Artistic Expressions of Faith in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

John Bruggeman, has been promoted to Chief Technology Officer at HUC-JIR.
National Director of Information Systems at HUC-JIR since 1997, he oversees Information Technology and E-Learning.

Christine Neal Thomas, Ph.D., has been appointed Visiting Assistant Professor of Bible and Cognate Languages at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati.
Dr. Thomas comes to HUC-JIR from Harvard University, where she taught courses in Hebrew, Bible, and biblical exegesis, and wrote her dissertation on the political history of Late Bronze Age Ugarit. She has a special interest in the interpretation of biblical texts in light of the material culture of Iron Age Israel.

Rabbi Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi ’05, Ph.D. has been appointed National Director of Recruitment and Admissions and President’s Scholar, and directs the Office of Community Engagement at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati.
This appointment is made possible by the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati, which has established ground-breaking programs to connect HUC-JIR to the community with a transformative five-year, $5.225 million grant. Rabbi Sabath Beit-Halachmi previously served as a Senior Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute, where she was Vice President and Director of Rabbinic Leadership Programs. She has taught for a decade at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem and is a columnist for the Jerusalem Post and The Times of Israel.

Rabbi David H. Aaron ’83, Ph.D., Professor of Hebrew Bible and the History of Interpretation, has been appointed Director of Scholarly Publications.
His mandate is to oversee HUC-JIR’s prestigious venues for the publication of significant monographs in all areas of Judaic Studies, including Hebrew Union College Press, Hebrew Union College Annual, Studies in Bibliography and Booklore, and other published works. He has entered HUC-JIR into partnership with the University of Pittsburgh Press for the design, printing, digitization, marketing and distribution of HUC-JIR’s publications

Angela Roskop Erisman, Ph.D., ’08, has been appointed Managing Director of the Hebrew Union College Press.
Now in its 89th year, HUC Press specializes in historical monographs and bilingual editions covering the full spectrum of Jewish studies. Erisman brings considerable experience as a writer and editor, including her role as Senior Editor of The Marginalia Review of Books.

Rabbi Michael Marmur ’92, Ph.D., Appointed Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Provost The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation in Cleveland, Ohio, has awarded HUC- JIR $4.1 million to support the establishment of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Provost Chair and to provide continued funding for the Mandel Initiative for Visionary Leadership. As Mandel Provost, Rabbi Michael Marmur will apply his intellectual rigor, creativity, and commitment to the College-Institute’s sacred mission. Building on his achievements as the Vice President for Academic Affairs, he will help HUC-JIR attain ever-greater academic and professional excellence for its faculty and students.
Morton Mandel explained, “We are pleased to support HUC-JIR’s academic excellence with the establishment of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Provost Chair and to sustain the Mandel Initiative preparing students who are committed to becoming leaders for the Jewish community throughout North America, Israel, and around the world. Our Jewish future depends, in part, on these students’ capacity to inspire the next generations of knowledgeable and engaged Jews.”


RABBI DAVID H. AARON ’83, PH.D., Professor of Hebrew Bible and History of Interpretation and Director of Scholarly Publications, published “Reflections on a Cognitive Theory of Culture and a Theory of Formalized Language for Late Biblical Studies,” in Diana V. Edelman and Ehud Ben Zvi, Remembering Biblical Figures in the Late Persian & Early Hellenistic Periods (Oxford, 2013).

REVEREND ANN AKERS, Director, Interfaith Doctor of Ministry in Clinical Education for Pastoral Ministry Program, taught meditation in the practice called “Align with the Divine: A Pathway to Your True Self” monthly in Milford, PA.

ISA E. ARON, PH.D., Professor of Jewish Education, serves as co-director of the B’nai Mitzvah Revolution, a joint project of HUC-JIR and the Union for Reform Judaism to help congregations engage students and their families more deeply in b’nai mitzvah preparation and commemoration.

CAROLE B. BALIN ’91, PH.D., Professor of Jewish History, is travelling her exhibition “Bat Mitzvah Comes of Age” for its third year.

SARAH BUNIN BENOR, PH.D., Associate Professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies, won the Sami Rohr Choice Award for Jewish Literature for Becoming Frum: How Newcomers Learn the Language of Orthodox Judaism (Rutgers University Press).

RABBI JONATHAN COHEN ’12, PH.D., published “The Evolution of Sacred Service” in the electronic publication Avodat HaKodesh at

RABBI MICHAEL J. COOk ’70, PH.D. ’75, Sol and Arlene Bronstein Professor of Judeo- Christian Studies and Professor of Intertestamental and Early Christian Literatures, presented “Mind the Gap: Bridging One Dozen Lacunae in Jewish-Catholic Dialogue” as the Second Annual John Paul II Lecture on Christian- Jewish Relations at the Center for Christian-Jewish Relations at Boston College.

RABBI DAVID ELLENSON, ’77, PH.D., Chancellor, published “The Responsa of Rabbi Solomon Judah Rapoport and Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch on the Proposed Judah Touro Monument: A Translation of Two Texts” in As a Perennial Spring: A Festschrift Honoring Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm, edited by Bentsi Cohen (New York: Downhill Publishing, 2013).

RABBI TAMARA COHN ESKENAZI ’13 PH.D., Professor of Bible, lectured on “King Cyrus and the Bible” at “The Cyrus Cylinder: Modern Myths and Ancient Realities,” sponsored by USC Middle East Studies Program and Farhang Foundation.

NILI S. FOX, PH.D., Director, School of Graduate Studies and Professor of Bible, published “Biblical Sanctification of Dress: Tassels on Garments” in Built by Wisdom, Established by Understanding: Essays on Biblical and Near Eastern Literature in Honor of Adele Berlin (University Press of Maryland, 2013).

RABBI JOSHUA D. GARROWAY ’03, PH.D., Rabbi Michael Matuson Professorship and Assistant Professor of Early Christianity and Second Commonwealth, published “‘Apostolic Irresistibility’ and the Interrupted Speeches in Acts” in Catholic Biblical Quarterly 74.4 (2012).

KRISTINE GARROWAY, PH.D. ’09, Visiting Assistant Professor of Hebrew Bible, published “Was Bathsheba the Original Bridget Jones?: A New Look at Bathsheba on Screen and in Biblical Scholarship” in Nashim, 24 Spring (2013).

LISA D. GRANT, PH.D., Professor of Jewish Education, wrote a policy brief on the “Purposes of Israel Education” for the Consortium for the Applied Study of Jewish Education (CASJE) with Daniel Marom and Yehudit Werchow.

ALYSSA GRAY, PH.D., Emily S. and Rabbi Bernard H. Mehlman Chair in Rabbinics and Associate Professor of Codes and Responsa Literature, published “Jewish Ethics of Speech” in the Oxford Handbook of Jewish Ethics and Morality, edited by Elliot N. Dorff and Jonathan K. Crane (Oxford, 2013).

RABBI LAWRENCE A. HOFFMAN ’66, PH.D. ’73, Barbara and Stephen Friedman Professor of Liturgy, Worship, and Ritual, published “The Professionalization of the Rabbinate,” an essay first presented as a lecture to a scholarly conference in Regensberg, Germany.

JOSHUA HOLO, PH.D., Dean, Jack H. Skirball Campus/ Los Angeles and Associate Professor of Jewish History, published “Both Byzantine and Jewish? The Extent and Limits of Jewish Integration in Middle Byzantine Society” in Negotiating Co-Existence: Communities, Cultures and ‘Convivencia’ in Byzantine Society, B. Crostini and S. La Porta, eds. (Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2013).

RABBI SHIRLEY IDELSON ’91, PH.D., Dean, HUC-JIR/New York, earned her Ph.D. in History from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York; her doctoral dissertation, Reorienting American Liberal Judaism for the Twentieth Century: Stephen S. Wise and the Early Years of the Jewish Institute of Religion, was advised by Rabbi Robert Seltzer ’61, Ph.D.

RABBI SAMUEL K. JOSEPH ’76, PH.D., Eleanor Sinsheimer Distinguished Service Professor of Jewish Education and Leadership Development, was invited to teach “Successful Projects to Make the World a Better Place: Tikkun Olam” to rabbinical students during a multi-week seminar at Abraham Geiger College in Potsdam, Germany.

JASON KALMAN, PH.D., Gottschalk-Slade Chair in Jewish Intellectual History and Associate Professor of Classical Hebrew Literature and Interpretation, was a consultant to the Dead Sea Scroll Exhibition featured at the Cincinnati Museum Center, which included an exhibit of artifacts that explored the story of HUC-JIR and the Scrolls.

RABBI NAAMAH KELMAN ’92, Dean, HUC-JIR/Jerusalem, led four sessions at the Limmud Conference at Warwick University, England.

JONATHAN KRASNER, PH.D., Associate Professor of the American Jewish Experience, published “Dreaming Dreams and Seeing Visions: NFTS and the Early History of the National Federation of Temple Youth” in the new volume Sisterhood: A Centennial History of Women of Reform Judaism, edited by Drs. Carole B. Balin, Dana Herman, Jonathan D. Sarna, and Gary P. Zola.

RABBI CHARLES A. KROLOFF ’60, Vice President for Special Projects, contributed the d’vrei Torah for the entire Book of Genesis for the Union for Reform Judaism’s Weekly Torah Portion (September through December 2013).

YOSSI LESHEM, PH.D., Adjunct Associate Professor of Bible, published the article “Two Biblical Families and Their Differences” in Volume 81 of the Hebrew Union College Annual.

ADRIANE LEVEEN, PH.D., Senior Lecturer in Hebrew Bible and Lead Judaica Specialist in the Jim Joseph Foundation- Education Initiative, published “‘Lo We Perish’: A Reading of Numbers 17:27-20:29” in Torah and the Book of Numbers, Christian Frevel, Thomas Pola, and Aaron Schart, eds. (Mohr Siebeck: 2013).

RABBI MICHAEL MARMUR ’92, PH.D., Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Provost, published “Ethical Theories in the Reform Movement” in The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Ethics and Morality (Oxford University Press, 2013).

RABBI DALIA MARX ’02, PH.D., Associate Professor of Liturgy and Midrash, published “A Female Rabbi is Like an Orange on the Passover Plate: Women and the Rabbinate – Challenges and Horizons” in Rabbi – Pastor – Priest; Their Roles and Profiles through the Ages, Walter Homolka and Heinz-Günther Schöttler, eds. (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2013).

MICHAEL MEYER, PH.D., Ochs Professor of Jewish History, published “The Refugee Rabbis: Trials and Transmissions” in Leo Baeck Institute Year Book 57 (2012).

MICHAL MUSZKAT-BARKAN, PH.D., Director, Department of Professional Development and Education at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem, published “The Choice of Reform Rabbinical Studies in Israel and the Rabbinical Mission: Negotiating Tikun Olam and Personal Tikun” in the Journal of Jewish Education, Volume 79, Issue 2, 2013.

RABBI AARON D. PANKEN, PH.D., President, served as Co- Chair of the Rabbinics Section of the Association for Jewish Studies and the Sabbath Group of the Society of Biblical Literature.

JOYCE ROSENZWEIG, Artist- in-Residence, Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music, curated “Before the Fires,” a multi-media concert and program marking the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht at the JCC in Manhattan.

EVIE LEVY ROTSTEIN, PH.D., Director, New York School of Education, was the keynote presenter for the annual conference of the Institute for Southern Jewish Life.

RABBI RICHARD S. SARASON ’74, PH.D. Professor of Rabbinic Literature and Thought, presented “Petihta and Piyyut: Exploring the Connections” at an international conference on “Jewish Prayer: New Perspectives,” sponsored by the Goldstein-Goren International Center for Jewish Thought at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheva, Israel.

CANTOR BENJIE SCHILLER ’87, Professor of Cantorial Arts, had her choral composition, “U’k’ratem D’ror – Proclaim Liberty,” performed for Barack and Michelle Obama at the White House by the choral ensemble “Zemer Chai,” conducted by Eleanor Epstein.

S. DAVID SPERLING, PH.D., Professor of Bible, published “A Study of Psalm 2” in Volume 43 of the international journal Ugarit Forschungen.

RABBI MELISSA ZALKIN STOLLMAN ’00, MARE ’08, Coordinator, Certificate Program in Jewish Education for Adolescents and Emerging Adults, was named the Executive Vice President for the 2013-2015 Reform Youth Professionals Association Executive Board.

RABBI MARk WASHOFSKY ’80, PH.D. ’87, Solomon B. Freehof Professor of Jewish Law and Practice, published “The Woodchopper Revisited: On Analogy, Halakhah, and Jewish Bioethics,” Walter Jacob, ed., Medical Frontiers and Jewish Law (Pittsburgh: Rodef Shalom Press, 2012).

RABBI DVORA E. WEISBERG ’11, PH.D., Director, Rabbinical Program, HUC-JIR/Jack H. Skirball Campus/ Los Angeles, published “Clothes (un)Make the Man: bMenahot 109b” in Introduction to Seder Qodashim: A Feminist Commentary on the Babylonian Talmud V, Tal Ilan, Monika Brockhaus and Tanja Hidde, eds. (Mohr Siebeck 2012).

RABBI ANDREA WEISS ’93, PH.D., Assistant Professor of Bible, presented a paper on “What Is Biblical Theology?” at the 2013 Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting.

RABBI MARGARET MOERS WENIG ’84, Lecturer in Liturgy and Homiletics, was elected to the position of Second Vice President of the Academy of Homiletics, and will be the Academy’s first Jewish President.

RABBI NANCY H. WIENER ’90, D.MiN. ’94, Dr. Paul and Trudy Steinberg Distinguished Professor in Human Relations and Counseling and Clinical Director, Blaustein Center for Pastoral Counseling, published “Pastoral Care in a Postmodern World: Promoting Spiritual Health Across the Life Cycle” and “Seminary-Based Jewish Pastoral Education” in Judaism and Health, Levin and Prince, eds. (Jewish Lights Publishing).

STEVEN WINDMUELLER, PH.D., Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk Emeritus Professor of Jewish Communal Service, published “The Jewish Contract with America” in The Casden Institute for the Study of the Jewish Role in American Life of the University of Southern California’s Annual Review, Volume 11: American Politics and the Jewish Community.

MICHAEL ZELDIN, MAJE ’77, PH.D., Senior National Director of Schools of Education and Professor of Jewish Education, published “Nurturing and Celebrating Emerging Scholars in Jewish Education Research” in the Journal of Jewish Education.

RABBI TALI ZELJOWICZ ’02, MAJE ’00, PH.D., Professor Sara S. Lee Chair for an Emerging Scholar in Jewish Education, serves as a member of the eight-person AVI CHAI Foundation National Research Team to study “What Keeps Jewish Schools Jewish?”

WENDY ZIERLER, PH.D., Professor of Modern Jewish Literature and Feminist Studies, published “The Great Canadian American Chinese Jewish Novel” on

RABBI GARY P. ZOLA ‘82, PH.D. ‘91, Director, Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, and Professor of American Jewish History, served as one of the organizers as well as a keynote speaker at Women of Reform Judaism’s Centennial Academic Symposium in New York.


Drs. Carole B. Balin, Dana Herman, Jonathan D. Sarna, and Gary P. Zola
Hebrew Union College Press, 2013

This ground-breaking volume of essays records and contextualizes the 100-year history of Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ), formerly known as the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods (NFTS), and the oldest federation of women’s synagogal auxiliaries in the world. Drawing upon primary source material found in WRJ records and related collections preserved at HUC-JIR’s Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati, the essays shed light on American religion, Judaism, and women’s and gender history. HUC-JIR scholars represented in this volume include: Rabbi David Ellenson and Dr. Jane F. Karlin on WRJ and HUC-JIR; Dr. Jason Kalman and Dr. Andrea L. Weiss on WRJ’s Women’s Torah Commentary; Dr. Carole B. Balin on WRJ’s Uniongram fundraising campaigns; Dr. Jonathan Krasner on NFTS and NFTY; Dr. Dana Herman on NFTS and the Jewish blind; and Dr. Sarah Bunin Benor on the changing language of Sisterhood leaders.


Dr. Lawrence A. Hoffman
Jewish Lights Publishing, 2013

Through a series of lively introductions and commentaries, over thirty contributors – men and women, scholars, rabbis, theologians and poets, representing all Jewish denominations – examine the history and ideas behind Yizkor, the Jewish memorial service, and this fascinating chapter in Jewish piety. Featuring the traditional prayers – provided in the original Hebrew and a new and annotated translation – this fourth volume in the Prayers of Awe series explores the profound theological questions at the core of this service and our own humanity: What happens to us after we die? Is there really an afterlife? Does our fate after death depend on the goodness with which we have pursued our earthly life? HUC-JIR contributors to this volume include Yoram Bitton, Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, Ph.D., Rabbi Dalia Marx, Ph.D., Rabbi Aaron D. Panken, Ph.D., Rabbi Jakob J. Petuchowski, Ph.D., z”l, Rabbi Margaret Moers Wenig, D.D., and Dr. Wendy Zierler.

NGSBA Reports – Volume 2

Dr. David Ilan, Editor
Nelson Glueck School of Biblical
Archaeology, 2013

This annual peer-reviewed journal, published by HUC- JIR’s Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology, is mainly dedicated to publishing the results of the salvage excavations that HUC-JIR sponsors in Israel. It also includes reports on HUC-JIR’s community projects and the results of targeted research. This second volume includes reports on sites dating to the Iron Age (First Temple period), Roman (Mishnaic period), Byzantine (Talmudic period), and Islamic periods in central Israel.


Rabbi Ruth H. Sohn
Gaon Books, 2013

This exceptional account of Rabbi Sohn and her family’s experiences living in Egypt recounts how they were advised not to share the fact that they are Jewish, and how they discovered what it means to hide and then increasingly share their identity. Wondering whether it would be possible to cross the boundaries of language, culture, and religion to form real friendships and find a home among Egyptians, Sohn describes the many faces of Cairo encountered on her journey. Throughout this probing contemplation of self and other in a world that is foreign and in many ways inimical to her own as an American Jew, she shows how even the seemingly mundane events of daily life can yield unexpected discoveries.


Dr. Dalia Marx
Mohr Siebeck, 2013

This general introduction and feminist commentary on the last three tractates of the order of Qodashim offers a unique window onto the rabbis’ perspectives on the Second Temple and gender-related matters. The commentary on Tamid, a tractate dealing with the priestly service in the Temple, discusses the priests as a “gender unto themselves” and considers women as potential participants in the lay service of the Temple and perhaps even as part of the sacred service. Middot concerns itself with the design of the Temple, and the commentary explores sacred space from a gendered perspective. Qinnim is a tractate dealing with bird offerings, typically brought by women.


Dr. Steven Windmueller

This anthology explores various elements that have defined the American Jewish story, including the trends that have shaped American Judaism, its institutions, policies and practices; the issues that impact the relationship of Jews to other constituencies; the principles of Jewish leadership; and the impact of global anti-Semitism. These and other themes are explored in this collection of writings drawn from more than forty-five years of Dr. Windmueller’s communal practice and academic engagement. A specialist on political issues and American Jewish affairs, he shares his expertise on Jewish public and civic affairs, the Middle East, and global social trends.


Joan S. Friedman
Hebrew Union College Press, 2013

Rabbi Solomon Bennett Freehof ’15 (1892-1990), Chairman of the Central Conference of American Rabbis Responsa Committee, called for Reform Judaism to turn to halakhah (Jewish legal tradition) to be guided in ritual and in all areas of life by its values and ethical insights. He asserted that Jewish law was to offer “guidance, not governance” through responsa, rulings based on legal precedent written by an organized rabbinic authority. Over nearly fifty years, he answered several thousand inquiries, and published several hundred of them, regarding situations arising from living in an open society, including mixed marriage, Jewish status, non-Jewish participation in the synagogue, and conversion. In her analysis of Freehof’s responsa, Friedman illustrates the evolution of American Reform Judaism in response to the ever changing challenges of preserving both individual autonomy and faithfulness to Jewish tradition.


RICHARD ENGLAND, Governor Emeritus

BURTON M. JOSEPH, Governor Emeritus 

ALVIN LIPSON, Governor Emeritus