President's Report 2013-2014

President's Report 2013-2014 Cover

View the PDF

ADA Version of President’s Report 2013-2014


President’s Message

Expanding Our Reach
Elizabeth M. Squadron, Vice President for Program and Business Development

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

Reviewing Our Curriculum
Rabbi Michael Marmur, Ph.D., Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Provost

Recruiting a New Generation
Rabbi Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi, Ph.D., National Director of Recruitment and Admissions;
President’s Scholar; Office of Community Engagement

Advancing Our Campus in Israel
Rabbi Naamah Kelman, Dean, HUC-JIR/Jerusalem

Zelikow School of Jewish Nonprofit Management Named in Honor of Marcie and Howard Zelikow and their Family

Edward M. Ackerman Family Distinguished Professorship of the American Jewish Experience and Reform Jewish History: Dr. Gary P. Zola Is Inaugural Recipient

The Greening of the New York Campus

Resilience and Hope: The Board of Governors in Israel

Faculty and Administration Highlights

HUC-JIR in Print

Graduation and Ordination Albums

Summary Financial Figures

Honor Roll of Donors


President’s Message

I feel more bleesed than words can say because of the extraordinary experiences and opportunities that have filled my first year as President of HUC-JIR. As a proud alumnis and faculty member, I certainly knew my alma mater well, but my new vantage point has led to an even greater respect and love for the people, places, and possibilities that make up our institution, joined with a deep sense of gratitude to all those who work hard, every day, to make it great. More than anything else, I have treasured the moments shared with our students and those completing our programs, all of whom are now setting out to serve with distinction throughout the Jewish world.

Among our 129 ordinees and graduates this past year, there were a few milestones: we ordained our 89th Israeli Reform rabbi this November, a significant contribution to the burgeoning of Progressive Judaism in our beloved State of Israel. Graduates of our Jerusalem campus included those completing our M.A. in Pluralistic Jewish Education (a joint program with The Hebrew University) and the pioneering Sugiyot Chayim program, bringing pastoral care and counseling to Israel, offered by our innovative Blaustein Center for Pastoral Counseling.

Stateside, we have enjoyed tremendous growth and development in our hybrid programs sponsored by the Jim Joseph Foundation, including our Executive M.A. Program in Jewish Education and the Certificate in Jewish Education for Adolescents and Emerging Adults. Best of all, our ordinees and graduates continue to experience a robust job market. The knowledge and training they gain at HUC-JIR enable them to secure excellent positions in communities that share their Jewish values and to work to improve the world through highly meaningful religious and communal leadership.

Our students, faculty, and staff continue to inspire through their actions and their commitments. This past summer and this fall, I spent well over a month in Jerusalem with our first-year students. We were together for inbound missile alerts in July, for intermittent cease fires in August, and for episodes of violence in November. Through it all, I have been utterly moved by our students’ commitment – they are learning what it truly means to be ohavei Yisrael, lovers of Israel. With the upcoming Israeli elections, they will have experienced the entire cycle of Israeli politics, absorbing a depth of understanding that will be unparalleled. I wish, of course, that the events of this year represented a brighter step along the road to a peaceful Middle East, but I know that all of our students already are emerging from the experience of being in Israel this year with far deeper insight and commitment.

We have much to celebrate. June’s Inauguration and joint Board meetings with the URJ and CCAR helped set the tone for a bright communal future. The extraordinary Board of Governors week in Israel in November included productive conversations with President Reuven Rivlin and other high- level members of the Israeli government; study tours of Jerusalem, communities on the Gaza border, and student and alumni/ae projects around Israel; and learning with our Israeli students and our superb faculty. Regular meetings with colleagues in our senior administration, cherished alumni/ae, committed congregants, and capable Reform Jewish leadership all over North America have helped us refine a vision of what the College-Institute can become – a vision that is deeply meaningful to the lives of our Reform Jewish community and far beyond.

I am delighted to announce a very significant development, the naming of our Zelikow School of Jewish Nonprofit Management. Thanks to the transformational support of Marcie and Howard Zelikow, we will re-envision the program: expand its reach; share its resources with other programs at HUC-JIR; and through hybrid and innovative means enhance the academic and professional development of Jewish professionals worldwide. The possibilities are extraordinary, and we look forward to informing you as the new programs take shape in the next two to three years.

In addition, we celebrated the inauguration of the Edward M. Ackerman Family Distinguished Professorship of the American Jewish Experience and Reform Jewish History at our Cincinnati campus with a landmark gift from the Edward and Wilhelmina Ackerman Foundation. Dr. Gary P. Zola, Executive Director of The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, is the inaugural recipient of the Ackerman Professorship. This faculty chair and newly created programmatic initiatives will bring the historical legacy of American Reform Judaism to students studying at our campuses in the United States and Jerusalem.

We also take pride in the creative Greening Initiative on our New York campus, demonstrating activism in the service of social responsibility on the part of our entire faculty, student, and staff community. This is but one example of the entrepreneurial spirit animating all of our campuses, sparked by our students’ commitment to bring positive change into our world.

Furthermore, in this issue of the President’s Report, you will find an update on the implementation of our vision for the future of HUC-JIR. [See pages 4-17] Our strategic plan consists of five goals, each of which is discussed in an article authored by the individual leading its implementation:

  • Expanding the College-Institute’s reach through thought leadership (conferences, teaching new audiences, and alumni learning);
  • Enhancing recruitment outreach and activities;
  • Revising our curriculum to ensure that our students continue to have the best and most contemporary education (including Hebrew language, text skills, and professional development);
  • Developing our role in Israel (the strengthening of our Jerusalem campus and its relationships with Israeli leaders and the North American Jewish community and building a strong Reform Judaism in Israel); and
  • Creating a plan for sustainability and growth (through fundraising, partnership with other organizations, and careful budgeting and planning).

Each of these initiatives will help create a more vibrant, relevant College-Institute and will continue to help us sustain and build a vital Reform Movement.

As you can surely see, I am thoroughly invigorated by the exciting prospects that lie before us as we work together to build a strong, dynamic, and forward-looking institution. I am grateful for your generous support in this vital endeavor, and I look forward to our continued work together in the months and years ahead.

In friendship and gratitude,

Rabbi Aaron D. Panken, Ph.D., President
March 2015 Adar 5775


Expanding Our Reach

Elizabeth M. Squadron, Vice President for Program and Business Development

HUC-JIR has a long history of serving as the intellectual center for Reform Judaism in North America and Israel. Our faculty members have taught, written, and lectured widely throughout the Movement and the greater Jewish world. They have inspired students to delve deeper into their own ideology and heritage and nutured creative approaches to understanding Judaism in our particular context.

But there is more to be done. To accomplish the goal of continued and enhanced thought leadership, the College-Institute will expand its reach via creative use of technology, teaching to key audiences for recruitment and development, and offering resources and educational opportunities for alumni and lay leaders in partnership with appropriate organizations. The initiative will strive to enhance HUC-JIR’s position as a vibrant intellectual center for scholarship, research, and learning within the Reform Jewish community and the Jewish world.

The College-Institute’s strategies in this area cover three objectives. First, it intends to use its resources and knowledge to educate new and different groups of leaders. Second, it will enhance its relationship with its current community by reaching them in new ways. And third, the College-Institute will use technology to reach more potential Jewish learners directly.

HUC-JIR is currently studying three strategies to meet the first objective of educating a new and different audience. First, the College-Institute will explore specialized conferences. These conferences could take place on or adjacent to one of its campuses, and rotate among these four locations – to bring more attention to HUC-JIR’s physical presence in these communities and to maximize a diversity of participants. Ideally, the conferences will deal with an important issue broad enough to inspire dialogue between a combination of internal and external speakers. Conference topics will lend themselves to discussion from both a purely intellectual point of view for academics, as well as provide direct application for practitioners.

Second, we will open the HUC-JIR campuses to more rigorous learning by high school and college students. With so many young, Jewish leaders looking for academically rich Jewish experiences, HUC-JIR is a natural place for them to study – whether in brick and mortar classrooms on the campuses or in virtual web classrooms. The College-Institute is exploring the idea of bringing high school students to campus, virtually, for a nine-month fellowship program beginning in 2016, in addition to offering more educational opportunities for students locally where our campuses are situated.

To enhance HUC-JIR’s relationship with those already in its community, the College-Institute will put more emphasis on alumni learning – and continue to support those graduates who are out in the world at various points in their careers. Beginning in the 2015-2016 academic year, a robust program of classes – online and in person – will be available to HUC-JIR alumni from all schools and programs. HUC-JIR will also create experiences for lay leaders and those who may be future lay leaders to learn with the faculty and students in a retreat setting.

Finally, HUC-JIR will continue to build on the offerings available through its website, The College Commons program developed on the Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles, offering panel discussions and interviews on various topics in Jewish thinking, will expand this coming year.

HUC-JIR will also consider how we might make its website an essential resource for Jewish thinking and learning for those who visit it, even as it maximizes its ability to stream video and audio to its friends and supporters in accessible and streamlined ways.

HUC-JIR has countless wonderful resources at its disposal. These strategies are but a few examples of how the College-Institute intends to solidify and enhance its reputation as the place where Reform Jewish thinking is innovated, incubated, and instilled in the next generation of Jewish leaders.

The Campaign Assuring Your Jewish Future*

*July 1, 2009 – December 31, 2014


Funding Our Future

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

Across North America, in allowed us to face the future with Israel, and around the globe, HUC-JIR graduates are revitalizing synagogues, strengthening Jewish communal organizations, advancing scholarship and learning, and supporting rabbis and educators who are advocates for religious pluralism in the Jewish State.

Over 4,000 alumni – rabbis, cantors, educators, nonprofit professionals, and scholars – are ensuring the future of Reform Judaism and the Jewish people.

Students of all faiths are studying with our doctoral alumni, who are inspiring a greater understanding of our sacred texts and traditions.

Many graduates are standing at the forefront of Jewish religious, intellectual, and communal activism on behalf of Jewish continuity, interfaith understanding, and social justice.

The future of the College-Institute is bright and filled with possibilities. Thanks to bold leadership, HUC-JIR has demonstrated substantial progress in recovering from the recession of six years ago. Andrew Berger, Chair of the Board of Governors, led the task force overseeing the “New Way Forward” sustainability plan, in partnership with Rabbi David Ellenson and former Board Chairs Barbara Friedman and Irwin Engelman. He observed, “This plan has allowed us to face the future with confidence. Our endowment has grown to over $200 million from $80 million, and where we once carried a $10 million operating deficit, the FY 2014-2015 budget is balanced and anticipates a surplus.”

Achieving financial sustainability also rested on launching a substantial fundraising campaign. The Campaign: Assuring Your Jewish Future contributed significantly to the College-Institute’s current stability. Thanks to the generosity of Governors, Overseers, alumni, friends, and institutional benefactors, the $125 million campaign goal has been surpassed. Over $131 million has been committed. Although the campaign goal has been met, fundraising will continue with characteristic energy and enthusiasm while efforts to envision and plan for a successive campaign are underway. Exciting opportunities to support the College-Institute are still compelling.

In speaking about the Campaign, Rabbi Panken stated, “I am very grateful to my predecessor, David Ellenson, for his extraordinary leadership in launching the Campaign, and to Bonnie Tisch, who served as Campaign Chair. It has been a privilege to join in this effort since assuming the presidency of HUC-JIR. While it has been exciting to reach the goal on schedule, I am particularly enthusiastic about the impact of our benefactors’ generosity. Over $48 million of the funds raised have been designated for the endowment. These dollars will help to sustain us as they provide support in perpetuity. New endowed professorships and scholarships will help our faculty and students for decades to come. In addition, new initiatives that have been funded during this period are enhancing faculty teaching and research, making leadership development opportunities available to our students, and providing the hardware and software to use technology to extend our reach.”

A future campaign promises to focus increased attention on securing endowment funds for faculty positions, student financial aid, and to underwrite academic programs. New programmatic initiatives will also emerge.

As Rabbi Panken has said, “If the College-Institute could double its endowment it would truly be self- sustaining. This must be a priority in the years ahead. At the same time,

I am thinking about the resources we will need to implement goals that are emerging during my presidency. There is a creative synergy between seeking budget-relieving dollars to achieve sustainability and identifying support for new innovative responses to student, faculty, and community needs. These interests will surely coalesce around a future campaign.”

$125 million

$131.3 million






















20 new endowed scholarship funds established
39 new restricted scholarship funds established

39 existing endowed scholarship funds increased
26 existing restricted scholarship funds increased



Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Provost

Edward M. Ackerman Family Distinguished Professorship of the American Jewish Experience and Reform Jewish History

Rabbi David Ellenson Chair in Jewish Religious Thought

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



Dr. Norman J. Cohen Chair for an Emerging Scholar

The Efroymson Chair in Jewish Religious Thought

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








Leona Aronoff Rabbinic Mentoring Program at the Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles, endowed by Leona Aronoff-Sadacca

Michele and Martin Cohen Fund for Program and Business Development, funded by Michele and Martin Cohen

Golden Family Hanassi Fellows, benefiting the Israel Rabbinical Program, funded by Suzanne and John Golden

Spirituality Initiative at the New York Campus, funded by the Joyce and Irving Goldman Family Foundation

Barbara and Norman Gross Atrium at the New York Campus, funded by Barbara and Norman Gross

The Joan and Phillip Pines Fund for the Cincinnati Campus, endowed by Joan Pines

Blaustein Center for Pastoral Care, New York, endowed by Elizabeth B. and Arthur Roswell

Richard J. Scheuer Israel Seminar, endowed by members of the Scheuer Family

Star Cantorial Fellows Program, endowed by Sara Crown Star and Crown Family Foundation

Tisch Fellows Program, funded by Bonnie and Daniel Tisch

Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati Fellowship Program and Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati Recruitment, Admissions, and Community Engagement Program, funded by the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati

Jim Joseph Education Initiative and DeLeT – Day School Teachers for a New Generation, each funded by Jim Joseph Foundation

Renovation of the Jerusalem Campus, launched with a challenge grant from the Skirball Foundation

Leadership Institute for Congregational School Educators, funded by UJA-Federation of New York

Cantorial Certification Program at the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music, funded by Friends of the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music

Steven F. Windmueller Israel Seminar at the Zelikow School of Jewish Nonprofit Management, endowed by Friends of the Zelikow School of Jewish Nonprofit Management


Reviewing Our Curriculum

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

In Latin, the word curriculum refers to something which runs – a race, a chariot, a flow. It is a dynamic term, implying a perpetual state of movement. The curriculum of any academic program should always be moving – if we stop for too long, we grow old and stale. This is particularly true in the case of professional education, where the profession is itself undergoing significant change out in the field. The cantor of today is not yesterday’s cantor, and thinking about the rabbi of tomorrow could give a person a headache.

If change is hardwired into the curricular process, there is also something fixed – a body of knowledge, an approach, a discipline – which needs to be imparted. For example, while many doctors today are trained in a quite different manner than their predecessors a generation ago, they still need to know the difference between the tibula and the fibula. If they don’t, you should probably desist from paying them a visit.

Planning a curriculum for professional education involves mediating the contrasting claims of change and continuity, which makes it an exhilarating and complicated business. While thinking about the tomorrow our graduates will confront and construct may spark a migraine, that’s part of the job of a curriculum planner.

What are we talking about when we say “curriculum”? There should be no surprise that there is in fact a broad range of opinion in response to this apparently innocent question. Some interpret the term in a minimalist way – it refers to the courses being taught in a program. At the other end of the spectrum there is a maximalist definition according to which everything we expect of a student, every aspect of the learning experience – formal and informal, explicit and implicit – they are all part of a broad curriculum.

All of our programs, including our Schools of Education, our Zelikow School of Jewish Nonprofit Management, our Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music, our Rabbinical School, and our School of Graduate Studies, all have curricula which run and flow and change over time. Each of them is constantly engaged in reviewing their offerings and reconsidering their assumptions.

In an institution such as ours there are many partners in the work of curricular review and one owner. The partners are the various stakeholders who care passionately about the way in which our students are educated – students themselves, alumni, Governors, administrators, congregations and institutions out in the field who employ them, and more. The clear owner of the curriculum is our faculty. It is they who have the major role in molding the program and indeed in molding the Jewish leaders of tomorrow.

We are partnering with the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University to get a sense of the current strengths and weaknesses of our programs in light of profound changes overtaking the Jewish community in North America and around the world. They have completed the first part of a study and have presented us with initial results. In the next stage of their research, they are testing the waters in a number of Jewish communities to get a sense of the skills and sensitivities our graduates will need to provide leadership for Jewish life tomorrow. None of us – not even demographers of the caliber of Professor Leonard Saxe of Brandeis and our own Professors Steven M. Cohen and Bruce Phillips – can say for sure what the Jewish community will look like in the decades to come, and what kind of Jewish leadership they will require and desire. But analyzing trends and hearing from key stakeholders is an important part of any curricular process. We are putting together a team to look into the specific recommendations arising from the research and to make sure that the ideas it generates find their way into our curriculum – first for the Rabbinical Program and in time for our other programs, too.

One of the fascinating early findings from the work of the Cohen Center is that the rabbis, cantors, educators, and communal professionals of tomorrow will not only need to have impressive skills as self-starters, entrepreneurs, community organizers, and institution builders. They will also need to have significant mastery of the Jewish sources that are at the very basis of their status. Adapting to the future does not only mean excelling in field-related capacities. It also means bringing the meaning and deep resonance of authentic Jewish learning and life into every avenue of their work.

The person who most accurately symbolizes the work of the curriculum planner is Nik Wallenda. You may recall that recently he walked across a tightrope stretched between two astonishingly high buildings in Chicago, and in order to provide an element of challenge, he did so blindfolded. So it is with the work of creating a curriculum – you need great balance, much faith and experience, and you are not totally sure what is in front of you. Move too much in one direction or another – text immersion, language proficiency, professional skills, spiritual depth, acquaintance with the field, and you run the risk of toppling over. To make it through, you need a good sense of where the wind is blowing, but also a strong feel for the direction you are taking.

So much for the extended tightrope metaphor. At the moment, there are a number of committees and teams working on a range of curricular questions – Hebrew proficiency, Israel engagement, cross-campus cooperation, assessment, and more. All of these groups will be making recommendations to ensure that our programs are as compelling and effective as they can possibly be.

The work of walking the tightrope without slipping is being spearheaded by three faculty members – Jason Kalman, Dvora Weisberg, and Andrea Weiss – along with me. This process will take time, because academic change is not best achieved in a hurry. But over the coming months and years there will be changes in the curriculum of our Rabbinical Program; and indeed all of our programs are reviewing the what, how, when, and why of teaching and learning at HUC-JIR.

The word ‘Hebrew’ comes from a root meaning ‘crossing over.’ We are charged with the task of educating leaders capable of transmitting Torah and mediating change. Working out how to do this in the best possible way is a tightrope walk, and to do this well we have to keep balance and pay attention to the environment. The challenge is to stay aware of all the risks and dangers, and to keep moving forward.


Recruiting a New Generation

Rabbi Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi, Ph.D., National Director of Recruitment and Admissions; President’s Scholar; Office of Community Engagement

Our future Jewish leaders are everywhere.

To recruit them, we must identify and inspire them: each person, each student, one by one.

They can be actively identified and inspired in the youth groups of the congregations in which our alumni work and as they rejoice at our Reform Movement’s summer camps. We continue to rely on these internal networks of programs and the mentoring and stimulating work of our alumni, which have brought us thousands of individuals who became students of the College-Institute.

Today’s prospective students are also busy discovering their Jewish identities in a myriad of other places we have yet to reach. How can we recruit future Jewish leaders in a world that is constantly changing?

Nearly all graduate schools in the humanities and other liberal seminaries in the Jewish and non-Jewish world are asking similar big questions about recruitment because we face similar challenges. We know there is no ‘magic bullet.’

As we continue to expand and upgrade our current internal Movement-wide best practices for recruitment, we must also be willing to develop new strategies to ensure that we meet our recruitment goals in the present and future. With the vision and leadership of Rabbi Panken and working closely with Mandel Provost Rabbi Marmur, the Deans of our four campuses, and each program director, we have an incredible opportunity to plan, pilot, and ultimately launch such a broad recruitment campaign. This campaign will allow us to expand our outreach to prospective students on college campuses, develop partnerships with Hillel and Birthright Israel, explore new technology for distance learning, and engage college students on current issues like Israel, rising anti-Semitism, and Jewish identity.

We have an extraordinary placement rate and offer significant financial aid possibilities to attract prospective students. And there is much more to be done.

Our recruitment strategies address the increasing complexity of choosing a career as a Jewish professional leader today:

  • Definitions of Jewish identity and continuity have become more diverse; thus, what a life-long commitment to sustaining it will look like is less defined.
  • The contours of denominational affiliation have shifted dramatically.
  • And, perhaps most significantly, the decision to choose Jewish professional leadership as a career path in today’s economic reality is a very different proposition.

In order to achieve our goals, it is essential that we expand our recruitment initiatives and deepen our content- based recruitment-oriented work. We can recruit if we inspire. And we can inspire by bringing engaging Jewish ideas and contemporary issues to our recruitment work.

All of our recruitment work is driven by four core goals of the strategic action plan that the National Office of Recruitment and Admissions (NORA) presented to the President and the Board of Governors:

  • To identify, inspire, and recruit the next generation of first-rate Reform Jewish leaders to serve the Jewish people and the world and raise the number of high-caliber incoming students in all HUC-JIR programs;
  • To increase the number and diversity of prospective students engaging with HUC-JIR by increasing the number of potential students and young professionals visiting all four HUC-JIR campuses;
  • To increase the number and intensity of HUC-JIR alumni, Jewish professionals, and stakeholders engaging in recruitment, resulting in measurable impact on the number and quality of applicants; and
  • To increase the profile, presence, and impact of HUC-JIR in recruitment-ripe environments both internal and external to the network of the organizations of Reform Judaism.

Each of these goals requires multiple programmatic initiatives and the budget and capacities to execute them with excellence. In the coming years, NORA will focus on four key areas of strategic activity:

Expansion of Recruitment on College and University Campuses: In 2013-14 NORA recruited on 17 university campuses. In 2014-15 we plan on increasing that number by 50% – to 25 university campuses on which NORA recruitment professionals and HUC-JIR faculty will engage in intensive recruitment work.

Engagement of Alumni in Recruitment: In coordination with our Alumni Councils and special recruitment working groups, including the newly created Rabbinical Recruitment Cabinet, NORA is working with the alumni of HUC-JIR programs to host special Days of Learning and welcome recruitment professionals and HUC-JIR leadership to their communities to connect them with potential applicants.

Expansion of Key Partnerships: While we improve and expand our programmatic partnership with the URJ in our work with youth professionals at URJ camps and with URJ programs in Israel, NORA also is focusing on building active partnerships and programs with International Hillel and Birthright Israel.

Online Webinars and Virtual Campus Visits: In 2015, together with the President’s Cabinet, we will launch a series of webinars, online Open Houses, and study opportunities as part of a pilot program to engage college students on current issues such as the debates and discourse on Israel. We will emphasize our role as thought leaders and make our intellectual leadership and programs more accessible. Technological outreach also will bring other distance learning and engagement projects to prospective students.

Some of our future students will be inspired by content-based learning, while others will be motivated by service opportunities and invitations to be part of a changing North American Jewish landscape. Some will need explicit recruitment approaches or direct mentoring and others might be more likely to respond to implicit leadership messaging. Regardless of the details of our ambitious recruitment campaign, we will succeed and reach our goals with the commitment and mutually reinforcing efforts of every member of the wider HUC-JIR community – united wholeheartedly in the work that will ensure the foundation of our shared future.


Advancing Our Campus in Israel

Rabbi Naamah Kelman, Dean, HUC-JIR/Jerusalem

President Nelson Glueck would not compromise. When the Israeli government offered HUC-JIR a site on the emerging “Capitol Hill” near the Knesset and Israel Museum, he politely declined. He had his heart set on an olive orchard and parking lot on King David Street. No one wanted that strip of land, which was bordering on no-man’s land and within sniper range of Jordan. But Glueck envisioned a united Jerusalem and HUC-JIR positioned right at the intersection of the Old City-New City, East and West, and nestled in the cradle of the three monotheistic religions. Fifty-two years after the first buildings by architect Heinz Rau were dedicated in 1963, Glueck could not have imagined the beauty of the campus but also the breadth of programs and the prospect of more.

Following the establishment of the required Year-In- Israel for all stateside rabbinical students in 1970 (later expanded for cantorial and education students), and the opening of the Israel Rabbinical Program in 1979, the expanded campus, featuring architect Moshe Safdie’s exquisite design, was dedicated in 1986. The enlarged facilities encouraged HUC-JIR’s Jerusalem leadership to re-imagine the campus for more Israeli students and the larger Israeli public.

In 1986, the first ever Progressive preschool opened to serve the growing numbers of Reform students and professionals on the entire campus (which now includes the offices of the World Union for Progressive Judaism and the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism). Over twenty-eight years later, we are proud of the four preschool graduates who are now in our Israeli programs. Two are in the Israel Rabbinical Program and two have recently joined a brand new Israeli “songleader/cantorial soloist” program that is part of the Israel Rabbinical Program.

HUC-JIR has always understood that without leadership training there is no possibility to grow and support communities, schools, and institutions and to create new ones.

The Jerusalem campus now has four key programs for Israelis in place. Our world class faculty in Jewish Studies and Contemporary Israel Studies provide the knowledge and content for all those programs and more:

  • The Israel Rabbinical Program
  • The M.A. Program in Pluralistic Jewish Education (a joint program with The Hebrew University’s Melton Centre)
  • The Blaustein Center for Pastoral Counseling programs, including the Sugiyot Chayim/Life Texts bibliotherapy program and the advanced program for Group Work
  • Tenufa (Momentum), a young-adult social activist program

We now have nearly 75 Israeli students on our campus in the course of a week. Their flourishing programs interact in a variety of ways with our core programs: the Year-In-Israel Program, welcoming about 50 North Americans every year for their first year of rabbinical, cantorial, and Jewish education studies and the intensive Israel Seminars for our executive education, cantorial certification, and nonprofit management programs. Joint worship, study, social responsibility projects, and community-building activities help forge the links of friendship and collegial partnership between these emerging Israeli and North American students.

Furthermore, we have launched the Golden Family Hanassi Fellowship Program, through the support of Suzanne and John Golden. The Golden Fellows are our Israeli rabbinical students and recent graduates who are serving as short term shlichim (emissaries) embedded in host North American Reform synagogues, where they are mentored by North American rabbinical alumni while developing deep relationships with these leaders and their communities. Here lies a huge potential for real exchange and life-long friendships.

Our Abramov Library, with its 50,000 volumes of Hebraica and Judaica, Professor Yigael Yadin’s Near Eastern Archaeology library, Dr. Fritz Bamberger’s Spinoza collection, materials on the American Jewish experience, the Archive of Israeli Reform Judaism, and books on the State of Israel and Israeli society, serves our students and local Jerusalemites.

The Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archeology staff continues to research and publish the findings from over thirty years of digging at Tel Dan as well as provide teaching and expertise to our programs. It sponsors community-based educational exacavations and public lectures on new research. Treasures excavated during its field work are featured in the Skirball Museum on campus.

The Murstein Synagogue is the first building to greet visitors to campus. It welcomes hundreds of Reform visitors and Jews of all backgrounds from over the world to pray with us on Shabbat morning.

And yet, we could be welcoming more. We could be serving more. We can be teaching more.

Imagine special Shabbat and weekday programs custom-designed for visiting synagogues who want to expand their knowledge of modern day and ancient Israel, or experience havdallah in our beautiful courtyards after a song session with students or a lecture with our faculty.

Imagine a Kabbalat Shabbat with live music open to visitors and locals in one of the most beautiful locations in Israel.

Imagine meeting Israeli Reform Jews who share the worldview of visiting congregations. We want North American and world Jewry’s congregations to find our campus in Jerusalem a place of prayer, study, enrichment, and joy.

These are just aspects of one initiative that we hope to expand in the coming years.

Now imagine Israelis turning up for tours of the campus, for Shabbat weekend programs that include workshops, study, and exciting encounters in and around our campus and Jerusalem. Imagine Israeli groups and visiting groups meeting one another to study and sing together.

Imagine the possibilities if we were able to expand the number of our leadership training programs where North Americans and Israelis study together – perhaps an exciting Beit Midrash for the “Encore” generation in their 60s meeting and mentoring each other over Skype, through exchange visits, and more. Here too, are more directions that we hope to go, as we become more compelling for Israelis of all ages seeking a Judaism that is dynamic, open, and egalitarian.

We are a magnificent campus in the heart of Jerusalem and we are ready to engage more Israelis, North American visitors, and world Jewry in our warm and welcoming environment.

As our constituents understand the growing role of Reform Judaism in Israel and want to be part and partner to it, and as Israelis realize that their Judaism is actually in conversation with Reform Judaism, the potential of contact, programs, and initiatives is very promising.

Rabbi Panken is challenging us to stretch ourselves even more. How might we make Hebrew language and Israeli culture more accessible? What new ideas and even old ones are being examined and re-examined by the finest scholars of our own faculty and visiting scholars? How might we get these new horizons out to the public – through conferences, social media, web talks, and more?

The possibilities are indeed staggering. We can harness them to reach the global Reform Movement, the larger Jewish world, and beyond, to articulate the mission and values of Judaism for today and the future.

We, in Jerusalem, are poised and placed to grow and expand.



The Zelikow School of Jewish Nonprofit Management (ZSJNM) of HUC-JIR has been named with a transformational gift from Marcie and Howard Zelikow. The first Jewish communal service graduate program to be established in America forty-seven years ago, this School continues to be the premier graduate school preparing nonprofit professionals today for leadership careers in the Jewish community. With this gift, it is now poised to broaden its impact, not only around the globe but also across the range of Jewish professional fields. The official dedication of the Zelikow School took place on February 8, 2015 at HUC-JIR’s Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles.

“We are enormously grateful to Howard and Marcie Zelikow for their extraordinary generosity in support of our renowned program preparing leaders for the nonprofit sector,” says Rabbi Panken. “With the Zelikows’ landmark support, the Zelikow School will grow in its ability to prepare future generations of skilled professionals to serve the institutions, agencies, and organizations of global Jewish life. We have a series of significant programs planned that will expand the influence of this program tremendously, helping reach young Jewish leaders around the world.”

“Our investment in the Zelikow School is an investment in the Jewish future. We are proud to support its ever growing impact on Jewish life in the Reform Movement and across the Jewish landscape, today and for the generations to come,” states Marcie Zelikow, immediate past Chair of the School’s Advisory Council and a member of HUC-JIR’s Board of Governors. The $5 million Zelikow Endowment, along with their $1 million commitment for current operations, will provide core support for the Zelikow School of Jewish Nonprofit Management, including its administration, faculty, student financial aid, technology enhancement, and more.

“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, financial planning, fundraising, organizational change, and strategic planning,” asserts Marcie Zelikow. “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, who will retire as ZJSNM Program Director at the end of this academic year, 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 both the enormous challenges and significant opportunities facing the Jewish world and the broader society.” The search committee has convened and is actively recruiting a new director to build upon Richard Siegel’s successful work in advancing the school during his seven-year tenure.

Marcie and Howard Zelikow, active leaders at Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills, CA, are strong advocates for the ZSJNM’s unique mission: providing a practice-based graduate education for new generations of Jewish professionals to shape the future of the American Jewish community. “Howard and I are very deliberate in our philanthropy and give thoughtful consideration to our allocations,” Marcie Zelikow 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 next generations of their professional leaders. 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.”

Dr. Joshua Holo, Dean of the HUC- JIR Skirball Campus in Los Angeles, notes, “Marcie and Howard Zelikow’s endowment gift will help the Zelikow School become a truly national, and even international, resource, enabling HUC-JIR to offer courses and certifications in nonprofit management to rabbinical, cantorial, and education students on all of its campuses, as well as executive degrees and certification for rabbis, cantors, educators, and communal professionals already in the field.”

Marcie 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 in Los Angeles, where she first met Dr. Gerald Bubis, the School’s founding Director. His invitation to join the School’s Advisory Council has led to a decade of rewarding and meaningful experiences for Zelikow, who describes her personal fulfillment as a mentor to nonprofit management 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 confidence in the future, these students express an optimism that is truly inspiring.”

Marcie and Howard Zelikow’s endowment gift will help the Zelikow School become a truly national, and even international, resource, enabling HUC-JIR to offer courses and certifications in nonprofit management to rabbinical, cantorial, and education students on all of its campuses, as well as executive degrees and certification for rabbis, cantors, educators, and communal professionals already in the field.

The Zelikow School features a number of unique elements that contribute to its distinction as a world-class edu- cational institution. These include a diverse array of supervised internships at respected Jewish institutions across southern California; a dual-degree relationship with the superb graduate programs at the University of Southern California; an exciting lay-mentorship program that brings students into sustained contact with experienced Jewish lay leaders to benefit from their skills and insights; and a biennial Israel Seminar that offers students the opportunity to cultivate a more sophis- ticated understanding of Israeli society and build relationships with Israeli counterparts to foster stronger Israel engagement in the North American communities they will one day lead.

As the Zelikow School extends its reach beyond the HUC-JIR Skirball Campus in Los Angeles, where rabbinical and education students regularly take courses and pursue joint graduate degrees, plans are developing to offer cross campus and online learning, utilizing hybrid educational models to enable rabbinical, cantorial, and education students on HUC-JIR’s campuses in Cincinnati, New York, and Jerusalem, and alumni in diverse communities around the world, to study with the Zelikow School’s faculty. The ZSJNM will also build new partnerships with a diverse array of Jewish organizations around the world to train the next generation of highly qualified Jewish leaders to craft an inspiring global Jewish future.

This visionary gift will help pave the way to a brighter and more influential future for the ZSJNM, for HUC-JIR, and for the Jewish community as a whole.


Edward M. Ackerman Family Distinguished Professorship of the American Jewish Experience and Reform Jewish History

Dr. Gary P. Zola Is Inaugural Recipient

The Edward M. Ackerman Family Distinguished Professorship of the American Jewish Experience and Reform Jewish History has been established at the Cincinnati campus with a landmark gift from the Edward and Wilhelmina Ackerman Foundation. Dr. Gary P. Zola is the inaugural recipient of the Ackerman Professorship, which was celebrated with a special convocation on December 10, 2014 at the Cincinnati campus. The Ackerman Professorship also will play a key role in conceptualizing and implementing newly created programmatic initiatives that will further illuminate the heritage of American Reform Judaism to HUC-JIR students, faculty, alumni, and the community at-large in the United States and Israel.

Rabbi Panken stated, “We are enormously grateful to Edward Ackerman for his generous support for the next ten years of the Ackerman Professorship and new educational and programmatic initiatives on the history and heritage of Reform Judaism. Our commitment to sustaining this heritage has been significantly enriched by the College- Institute’s partnership with the Society for Classical Reform Judaism (SCRJ). Jointly-sponsored programs have highlighted the history and core values of American Reform Judaism and have promoted the development of a strong Reform Jewish identity among our students by emphasizing Reform Judaism’s enduring contributions to America as well as to the American Jewish community.”

Edward Ackerman said, “HUC-JIR will be capable of shedding new light on a shared heritage that belongs to all Reform Jews, while affirming the pluralism of interpretation and observance within the contemporary Reform Movement, by elucidating the core principles and liturgical traditions that continue to characterize the Classical tradition in American Reform Judaism.”

Rabbi Jonathan Cohen, Ph.D., Dean of the Cincinnati campus, added, “HUC-JIR’s historic Cincinnati campus is unquestionably the proper site for the establishment of this particular faculty chair. The first site of rabbinical learning in the Western hemisphere – now in its 140th year – the Cincinnati campus is inextricably linked to the emergence and history of the Reform Jewish Movement in America. With its world renowned Klau Library and The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives (AJA), the Cincinnati campus is today one of the richest and most comprehensive research centers in the field of the American Jewish experience and the history of American Reform Judaism. It is especially fitting that Dr. Zola, a renowned scholar of the American Jewish heritage and the Reform Movement’s history, is the inaugural recipient of this new Chair.”

Rabbi Howard A. Berman, Executive Director of the SCRJ, will serve on the Advisory Council on Reform Jewish History and Heritage that will guide the development of programmatic opportunities. Rabbi Berman noted, “Since the inception of the SCRJ, our partnership with HUC-JIR has been a priority for our work and a major interest of our devoted Board member, Edward Ackerman. The relationships we have built and the impact we have made on our students over the past five years, has enabled a new generation of our future leaders to affirm the diversity within our Movement today, and to explore our shared heritage as Reform Jews. The Ackerman Chair and new programmatic initiatives illuminating the heritage of American Reform Judaism will further integrate the Society’s programs into the culture, curriculum, and spiritual life of the College-Institute.”

Edward M. Ackerman has been a member of Temple Emanu-El of Dallas for over fifty years. He is one of the founders of the SCRJ and serves on its Board of Directors. He also strongly supports the Holocaust Studies Program at the University of Texas at Dallas. Ackerman was the founder and general partner of Ackerman Capital Manage- ment, Dallas’ first hedge fund.

Rabbi Zola noted, “As we inaugurate this new professorship dedicated to the cause of preserving and propagating the American Jewish experience and Reform Jewish history, we are filled with gratitude for our generous benefactors who have furnished this great school with the resources it needs to continue to flourish and thrive and distinguish itself and this historic Cincinnati community – this day and every day – in its dedicated efforts to remind us of who we really are.”

Dr. Zola also serves as the Executive Director of The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the AJA at HUC-JIR in Cincinnati. He became the AJA’s second Director in 1998, succeeding his teacher Professor Jacob Rader Marcus (1896-1995), who founded the AJA in 1947 and defined the field of American Jewish History.

In 2011, President Barack Obama appointed Dr. Zola to serve as a member of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, an independent agency of the Federal government. Dr. Zola served as the organizer and chair of the congressionally recognized Commission for Commemorating 350 Years of American Jewish History, a consortium of leading research institutions established to promote the study of American Jewish history during the 350th anniversary Jewish life in America (2004-2005). In 2006, Dr. Zola became the first American Jewish historian to receive appointment to the Academic Advisory Council of the congressionally recognized Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.

Dr. Zola is a historian of American Jewry who specializes in the development of American Reform Judaism. His published volumes include The Americanization of the Jewish Prayer Book and the Liturgical Development of Congregation Ahawath Chesed, New York City (2008); A Place of Our Own: The Rise of Reform Jewish Camping in America (co-edited with Michael M. Lorge) (2006); The Dynamics of American Jewish History: Jacob Rader Marcus’s Essays on American Jewry (2004); Women Rabbis: Exploration and Celebration (1996); and Isaac Harby of Charleston (1994). Most recently, Dr. Zola authored a new volume titled “We Called Him Rabbi Abraham:” Lincoln and American Jewry, A Documentary History (2014), and co-edited with Marc Dollinger a volume titled American Jewish History: A Primary Source Reader (2014). He also serves as editor of The Marcus Center’s award-winning semi-annual publication, The American Jewish Archives Journal.

The Greening of the New York Campus

“Addressing the environmental crisis is part of our Jewish mandate to prevent the destruction of our planet,” states Rabbi Shirley Idelson, Ph.D., Dean of HUC-JIR/New York. “We must draw upon the wisdom of our Jewish teachings related to environmental stewardship and act with a sense of urgency.”

The New York campus is taking the Jewish responsibility to respond to the environmental crisis seriously by going green and practicing and teaching environmental awareness to the next generation of Jewish leaders. The initiatives include sustainability measures for the campus’s food system; a new track of courses in the curriculum; and innovative opportunities for social activism and experiential learning. The goal is to create a cadre of environmentally knowledgeable clergy and educators who will bring their commitment to Jewish environmental education and practices into the synagogues, Hillels, day schools, and communities they serve.


Thanks to a generous grant from the Gendler Grapevine Project, as well as the gift of an anonymous donor, the HUC-JIR/New York Greening Initiative seeks to reimagine the New York campus’s food system through a campus compost project and environmental education series.

Rabbi Everett Gendler, described as the “grandfather of Jewish environmentalism,” has been a pioneering and visionary figure in the Jewish ecological movement for more than half a century. The Gendler Grapevine Project is designed to perpetuate Rabbi Gendler’s life’s work by establishing roots of change in the Jewish community toward recognizing and celebrating the deep connections between the Jewish tradition and the natural world.

The Greening Initiative has been spearheaded by fifth-year rabbinical student Liz Piper-Goldberg Hirsch, who majored in Environmental Studies at Brown University and worked on the teva (nature) program at the URJ’s Eisner Camp to augment its program with environmental education.

“Environmental stewardship and sustainable practices have always been an important part of my personal Jewish theology,” explains Piper- Goldberg Hirsch, who is working together with Dean Idelson, Director of Operations Harriet Lewis, and the student-run Green Team. “I believe we were placed on earth as partners with God to till and to tend the land, to protect our planet. I am honored and excited to be able to work with fellow students, faculty, and staff to implement these value-driven practices at HUC-JIR.”

Starting with the school’s food system, the campus is adopting a policy of environmentally-sustainable purchasing for food-related materials, including plates, utensils, cups, and napkins, and switching to recycled, compostable, and biodegradable items rather than disposable plastic or Styrofoam materials. In addition, the campus has developed a relationship with an urban composting company that works on removing food and food-related materials from the waste stream. The ultimate aim is to achieve a waste-neutral food system, in fulfillment of bal taschit, the Biblical prohibition against wastefulness.

In addition, the New York campus’s Rabbi Everett Gendler Environmental Education Series engages students in the study of traditional Jewish texts pertaining to food systems, waste, and eating with leading experts who can share best practices. In the future, the goal includes providing alumni with access to strategic plans, resources, and educational materials compiled at HUC-JIR/New York for use in their communities.

During Sukkot, faculty, students, and staff participated in “An Earthy Sukkot: A Shiur on Eco-Judaism for Jewish Professionals” with Rabbi Fred Dobb, Chair of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life and leader of Adat Shalom Congregation in Bethesda, MD. They gathered in the rooftop sukkah for text study exploring Sukkot and shmita (the sabbatical year in the seven-year agricultural cycle), web resources, and best practices in synagogue and Jewish communal environmental efforts.


In “Spiritual Practices for Jewish Environmental Leadership,” Rabbi Rachel Cowan and Dr. Adriane Leveen offered an intensive course for students and alumni to develop a Jewish approach to environmental activism. The course introduced tools of Jewish text study, prayer, and meditation, as well as concrete environmental actions that can be employed in synagogues, schools, camps, and other Jewish settings. Through field trips to New York City venues of environmental justice activity, urban natural beauty, and the Hudson River basin, the class investigated links to the natural world with the aim of learning the skills necessary to preserve and protect that world.

Dr. Michael Pitkowsky’s course “Jewish Roots of Sustainable Living” investigates theological and textual sources spanning Biblical literature through modern Jewish thought that can provide guidance for the construction of a sustainable lifestyle, based upon the importance of preserving the environment and minimizing the human impact on it.


Students, faculty, and staff participated in the People’s Climate March on September 21, 2014 in New York, joining more than half a million people who took to the streets in a unified global move to demand commitments from world leaders just days before their historic summit on climate change. The HUC-JIR cohort was among over 100 Jewish organizations and, as part of the Jewish Climate Campaign, brought shofars to provide a wake-up call to governments and organizations to work to fight climate change.

“We joyfully added our voices to the hundreds of thousands of others who came to let the world know that climate change is a clear and present danger to our planet,” said Dr. Lisa D. Grant, Professor of Jewish Education. “We marched as Jews with countless other religious and secular groups who came together in common cause to urge world leaders to take action for climate justice. It was a day of possibility and promise.”

The possibilities and promise continue to become a reality at HUC-JIR.

Cantorial student Rachel Harrison Rhodes presented her senior recital on “Speak to the Earth and It Will Instruct You” (Job 12:18) to inspire environmental stewardship through Jewish song. “My goal is to galvanize the Jewish community to enact a cultural shift towards sustainability. Using music, the recital paints for us a picture of despair when we look at our world and see how we are treating it with such recklessness. The music then moves us towards hope – together, through the power of song, study, community, and action we can create change. Jews must support the environmental movement, as it is written in our tradition: ‘I created everything for you. Make sure you do not ruin or destroy my world. If you do, there will be no one after you to fix it.’”


Resilience and Hope: The Board of Governors in Israel

The newly refurbished Jerusalem campus hosted the Board of Governors for an intensive immersion into Israeli geopolitics, culture, education, and spiritual renaissance. Lay leaders from throughout North America convened with renowned faculty, guest scholars, Israeli students, and Year-In-Israel students to explore the significant role that HUC-JIR is playing in transforming Israeli society. High level meetings with Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin and representatives of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government provided insight into Israel’s internal challenges and external threats.

[1] Israel President Reuven Rivlin welcomed the Board, the largest delegation of Reform Movement leaders to have met the new President to date: “I can say to all of you, we are one family and the connection between all Jews, all over the world, is very important to the State of Israel. I welcome you here, and want to tell you that I know so many Jerusalemites now that are grandfathers and grandmothers, and only came here to study at the Hebrew Union College, but have now been here for three generations. Jerusalem is a microcosm of the ability of all the people of the region to live together. It is a place where we can find out if we can live together or if we are doomed to continue in the tragedy that we have endured for over one hundred years. I believe we have to bridge social gaps, for the societies to live together and to progress. We must build confidence measures because we are going to live here together forever. We are not doomed to live together, but destined to live together.”

[2] Rabbi Panken presented President Rivlin with publications documenting HUC-JIR’s decades of archaeological excavations at Tel Dan.

[3] The Board visited the Prime Minister’s office to meet with [4] Avichai Mandelblit, Cabinet Secretary, and Jonathan Schechter, Advisor on Diaspora Relations, for a briefing on Israel-Diaspora affairs.

[5] John Golden, Chair of the Board’s Israel Committee, asked President Rivlin’s opinion on the chances for legislation on the question of giur (conversion) that would be acceptable to the vast majority of Jews in the diaspora.

[6] Reuven Marko, Chair of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, updated the Board on opportunities to advance religious pluralism in Israel.

[7] In greeting President Rivlin, Rabbi Panken stated: “We are here to sustain and build the connection between North American Jewry and Israel. We are here to demonstrate our solidarity with the people and State of Israel and express our support for many of your efforts. In your days as President, you have shown true leadership in the areas of rights for the Arab citizens of Israel, reconciliation between diverse groups, and consideration of those in Israeli society who need help. We are, after all, one people and our beloved State of Israel must continue to value each and every one of its citizens to the greatest extent possible. We share your immense hope for the future, and hope to be your partner in ever greater ways.”

[8] David Ilan, Ph.D., Director of the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology, displayed rare ancient artifacts uncovered at HUC-JIR’s excavations.

[9] Rabbi Dalia Marx, Ph.D., Professor of Liturgy and Midrash, taught a class on “Kaddish from the Rhine Valley to the Jezreel Valley: Crisis and Creativity.”

[10] Rabbi Naamah Kelman, Jerusalem Dean, introduced HUC-JIR Israeli students who described how Reform Judaism is gaining traction in Israel: Judith Miller Zamir, Sugiyot Chayim (Life Texts bibliotherapy program); Benny Mintz, Israel Rabbinical Program; Tomer Naor, Tenufa (Momentum social entrepeneurs program); and Lior Argaman, M.A. in Pluralistic Jewish Education Program.

[11] David Mendelsson, Ph.D., Director of the Year-In-Israel Program, briefed the Board after a presentation on “The Political Map of the Middle East Today” by Professor Shlomo Avineri, Herbert Samuel Professor Emeritus of Political Science, The Hebrew University.

[12] Nir Barkat, Mayor of Jerusalem, greeted the Board of Governors at the reception and dinner at the HUC-JIR Skirball Museum of Biblical Archaeology: “Jerusalem is thriving, with tripled employment, 80 new high tech firms, 25 new nursery schools, significant growth in young people living here, culture quadrupled over the past five years, and a goal of ten million visitors. Maintaining the status quo against the will of the extremists is a struggle. Here we talk about pluralism, where the most diverse groups in Israel seek a common denominator. The status quo is based on strategic compromises that enable all to flourish.”

[13] Professor Vered Venitzky-Seroussi, Dean of the Schools of Social Science, The Hebrew University, presented a sociological analysis of Israel’s current era of social activism.

[14] Linda and Andy Berger, Chair, Board of Governors, amid the archaeological treasures of the Skirball Museum.

[15] Haskalah Young Professionals Co-chair Matthew Louchheim and Sue Neuman Hochberg, Governor and Western Region Board of Overseers Chair, with Board members on campus.

The Richard J. Scheuer Israel Seminar offered three tracks: The Geopolitics of Jerusalem with Col. (Res.) Danny Tirza, designer of the seam zone; Recovery and Aftermath of Operation Protective Edge, with a visit to Moshav Nativ Ha’asarah, located on the Gaza Strip border, and a stop at Modi’in to see Yozma Congregation; and Activists with Hope, featuring meetings in Tel Aviv at Alma and Bina, leading institutions of Israeli Jewish renaissance, led by HUC-JIR’s students promoting progressive values. [18] Students at the security fence separating Israel from the Gaza Strip.

[19] Pluralistic Jewish Education student Yoel Spitz engages the Board in a discussion of innovative Jewish education at Keshet School. [20] The moshav’s hopes for peace expressed on the wall shielding the community from sniper attacks. [21] Board of Governors Member Martin Cohen inside one of the above ground shelters situated every 20 feet in Moshav Nativ Ha’asarah. [22] Israel Rabbinical Program alumnus Rabbi Nir Barkin ’07 at the new Tali school in Modi’in. [23] Board members, faculty, and students on their way from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv.



Rabbi Rachel Adler, Ph.D., Rabbi David Ellenson Professor of Modern Jewish Thought, published “For These I Weep: A Theology of Lament” in the CCAR Journal 61:4 (Fall 2014).

Rabbi Adam Allenberg, MAJE ’07, L ’07, was appointed Assistant Director of Recruitment and Admissions at the Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles.

Rabbi Yehoyada Amir, Ph.D., Professor of Jewish Thought, presented a lecture on “Jewish Attitudes towards the Other” at the Israel Democracy Institute in Jerusalem.

Isa Aron, Ph.D., Professor of Jewish Education, published “Upending the Grammar of the Conventional Religious School” in Journal of Jewish Education 80:3.

Sarah Bunin Benor, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies, co-founded a new journal, Journal of Jewish Languages, with Ofra Tirosh-Becker.

Rabbi Jonathan Cohen, Ph.D., Dean, HUC-JIR/Cincinnati, presented a paper in honor of Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D., Chancellor, at the CCAR Convention.

Steven M. Cohen, Ph.D., Research Professor of Jewish Social Policy, co-authored with Jason Gitlin the article “Reluctant or Repressed? Aversion to Expressing Views on Israel Among American Rabbis” in Jewish Council for Public Affairs, October 8, 2013.

Rabbi Michael J. Cook, Ph.D., Bronstein Professor of Judaeo-Christian Studies and Professor of Intertestamental and Early Christian Literatures, supervised rabbinical student Michael Harvey in conceptu- alizing and implementing “Nostra Aetate and the Abiding Response: The Case of Fifty-Years of Graduates of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.”

Rabbi Tamara Cohn Eskenazi, Ph.D., Professor of Bible, was a Visiting Fellow at the Centrum fur Literatur-und Kulturforschung in Berlin where she delivered a paper on “Reclaiming Heritage: Biblical Negotiations in the cultural matrix of the Persian Period (6th-4th Centuries BCE).”

Rabbi Reuven Firestone, Ph.D., Professor of Medieval Judaism and Islam, published “Muhammad in Pre-modern Jewish Literatures,” in The Image of the Prophet between Ideal and Ideology, edited by Christiane Gruber and Avinoam Shalem (De Gruyter).

Elisa Schindler Frankel was appointed Senior Development Officer, Schools of Education.

Joshua D. Garroway, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Early Christianity and the Second Commonwealth, published “The Pharisee Heresy: Circumcision for Gentiles in the Acts of the Apostles,” New Testament Studies 60.1 (2014): 20-36.

Alyssa Gray, Ph.D., Emily S. and Rabbi Bernard H. Mehlman Chair in Rabbinics and Associate Professor of Codes and Responsa Literature, published “Poverty and Community in R. Joseph Karo’s Shulhan Arukh: ‘Law and Literature’ and Halakhic History,” Diné Israel 29 (2013).

Cantor Tamar Havilio, Head of Cantorial Studies in Jerusalem, was invited by the Israeli Embassy in Poland to participate in the Hajnowka Choir Festival.

Rabbi Joui Hessel, MARE ’98, N ’01, was appointed Certificate Program Educator of the Certificate Program in Jewish Education Specializing in Adolescents and Emerging Adults.

Leah Hochman, Ph.D., Director of the Louchheim School for Judaic Studies, was promoted to Associate Professor of Jewish Thought and delivered a paper on “The Icon as Art: Aesthetic Theory, Portraiture and Mendelssohn” at the Association for Jewish Studies conference.

Joshua Holo, Ph.D., Dean, Jack H. Skirball Campus/HUC-JIR/Los Angeles, published “O abraço sufocante” [“The Suffocating Embrace”] in Devarim, the Brazilian Liberal Jewish magazine of the Associação Religiosa Israelita of Rio de Janeiro.

Rabbi Shirley Idelson, Ph.D., Dean, HUC-JIR/New York, published “’We Must Build Anew’: Ideological Perspectives of the First Generation of Students to Attend Stephen S. Wise’s Jewish Institute of Religion” in Reappraisals and New Studies of the Modern Jewish Experience, edited by Brian M. Smollet and Christian Wiese (Brill).

Rabbi Samuel K. Joseph, Ph.D., Eleanor Sinsheimer Distinguished Service Professor of Jewish Education and Leadership Development, directed, taught, and led the Sixth Reform Day School Externship with 16 rabbinical, cantorial, and education students at the Stephen S. Wise School in Los Angeles.

Rabbi Jan D. Katzew, Ph.D., Director of Service Learning, was a contributing author for World Religions in Dialogue (Anselm Academic Press).

Rabbi Naamah Kelman, Dean, HUC-JIR/Jerusalem, received the Intersections Award for courageous work at the intersections of religion, justice, and women’s empowerment.

Adriane Leveen, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer in Hebrew Bible and Lead Judaica Specialist in the Jim Joseph Education Initiative, published “Becoming Israel in the Wilderness of Numbers” in The Oxford Handbook to Biblical Narrative, edited by Danna Nolan Fewell (Oxford University Press).

Rabbi Michael Marmur, Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Provost, published “Why Jews Quote” in Oral Tradition, 29, No. 1 (2014).

Rabbi Dalia Marx, Ph.D., Professor of Liturgy and Midrash, participated in the 99th central German Catholic rally in Regensburg, in a panel discussion with German president Joachim Gauck and spoke on the role of religion in the civil society.

Dr. David S. Mendelsson, Director, Year-In-Israel Program at HUC-JIR/ Jerusalem, was promoted to Parallel Assistant Professor of Jewish History and Israel Studies.

Dr. Michal Muszkat-Barkan, Director, Department of Education and Professional Development, HUC-JIR/Jerusalem, was promoted to Parallel Associate Professor of Jewish Education and co-presented a paper with Lisa Grant, Ph.D., Professor of Jewish Education, entitled “Like a Distant Cousin: The Evolving Relationship of Future Reform Rabbis with Israel and the Jewish People” at the Association for Israel Studies conference at Ben Gurion University.

Rabbi Aaron D. Panken, Ph.D., President, was inducted into the North American Academy of Liturgy.

Bruce Phillips, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology and Jewish Communal Service, presented “Not Quite White: The Residential Patterns of Los Angeles Jews, 1920-1997” at the University of California, Riverside.

Rabbi Haim O. Rechnitzer, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Jewish Thought, published “From Honolulu via Mt. Gilboa to Tel-Aviv: The Rise and Fall of Shlonsky’s Messianic Halutz” in Hebrew Studies, 2014.

Jean Bloch Rosensaft, Assistant Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs and Director, HUC-JIR Museum, and Laura Kruger, Curator, HUC-JIR Museum, published “Jewish Art and Artists in the Seminary Setting” in the CCAR Journal (Winter 2013).

Evie Rotstein, Ph.D., Director, New York School of Education, participated in a program on engaging teens in community programming at the URJ Biennial convention and was appointed to also serve as Coordinator of the Certificate in Jewish Education for Adolescents and Emerging Adults.

Rabbi Richard S. Sarason, Ph.D., Professor of Rabbinic Literature and Thought, presented “Ritual Study as a Part of Jewish Liturgy” at Barton College Scholars Conversations in Wilson, North Carolina.

Cantor Benjie Schiller, Professor of Cantorial Arts, composed “Or Zarua” and an arrangement of Israel Alter’s “Bishiva Shel Mala” for cantor, congregation, and piano, commissioned by the American Conference of Cantors for the new Reform machzor Mishkan Hanefesh.

Rabbi Haim Shalom, J ’10, was appointed Assistant Director of Recruitment and Admissions at the Jerusalem Campus.

Rabbi Mark Washofsky, Ph.D., Solomon B. Freehof Professor of Jewish Law and Practice, published “Privacy, the Internet, and Progressive Halakhah,” in The Internet Revolution and Jewish Law, edited by Walter Jacob (Rodef Shalom Press).

Rabbi Andrea Weiss, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Bible, coauthored with Jason Kalman, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Classical Hebrew Literature and Interpretation and Gottschalk-Slade Chair in Jewish Intellectual History, the article “By Women, About Women, For Women? A New Torah Commentary for a New Millenium,” in Sisterhood: A Centennial History of Women of Reform Judaism, edited by Carole Balin, Dana Herman, Jonathan Sarna, and Gary P. Zola (Hebrew Union College Press).

Ruhama Weiss, Ph.D., Director, Blaustein Center for Pastoral Counseling, Jerusalem, gave a presentation and led a beit midrash at the Mayo Clinic with senior physicians and administrators, nurses, and chaplains on “Talmudic Texts and Healing” and was promoted to Parallel Associate Professor of Talmud and Spiritual Care.

Rabbi Margaret Moers Wenig, Instructor in Liturgy and Homiletics, was a visiting scholar in liturgy and homiletics at the Levisson Institute in Amsterdam.

Rabbi Nancy H. Wiener, D.Min., Clinical Director of the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Center for Pastoral Counseling, New York, launched the CPE program at the New York campus in conjunction with the Mount Sinai Medical Center.

Michael Zeldin, Ph.D., Professor of Jewish Education, Senior National Director of the Schools of Education, Director, Rhea Hirsch School of Education and DeLeT, HUC-JIR/Los Angeles, was honored by the Network for Research in Jewish Education after completing eighteen years as editor of the Journal of Jewish Education (the last ten years as Senior Editor).

Rabbi Gary P. Zola, Ph.D., Edward M. Ackerman Family Distinguished Professor of the American Jewish Experience and Reform Jewish History and Executive Director, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, represented the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad at the dedication ceremonies honoring the memory of Rabbi Regina Jonas at Terezin.


Elizabeth M. Squadron Appointed Vice President for Program and Business Development

Elizabeth M. Squadron was appointed to the newly created position of Vice President for Program and Business Development after serving as Director of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Operations. Appointed by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, she was charged with enhancing agency performance for 44 City agencies through active performance and project management.

Her leadership role is part of a significant gift from Michele and Martin Cohen to plan, implement, and evaluate initiatives that will generate income, enhance visibility, expand utilization of the four campuses, and reimagine facilities to best support HUC-JIR’s core mission.

“Elizabeth Squadron brings extensive expertise in program management, strategic planning, and the application of technology to enhance perfor- mance and partnerships,” stated Rabbi Panken. “Her broad experience in operations, innovation, and business development will help us maximize our resources and realize our untapped potential as she focuses on opportuni- ties for further growth and success.”

Squadron received the Master of Science in Social Policy and Planning from the London School of Economics and Political Science and the Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude, in Urban Studies from the University of Pennsylvania.




Dr. Ezra Spicehandler, Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Hebrew Literature and founding Dean of HUC-JIR/Jerusalem

Donald S. Day, Governor Emeritus

Lois Gutman, Governor Emeritus




Renewing the Covenant

Dr. Eugene B. Borowitz; Translation by Menashe Arbel and Ilon Shamir;
Edited by Ilon Shamir and Yehoyadah Amir; HaKibbutz HaMeuchad, 2014

The Hebrew translation of Renewing the Covenant (1991) makes the post-modern theology of Dr. Eugene B. Borowitz available to an Israeli audience. The publication is the culmination of a multi-year dedicated effort by the editors and translators in collaboration with the author and benefited from the support of many at the College-Institute.

Jewish Meaning in a World of Choice: Studies inTradition and Modernity

Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D.;
University of Nebraska Press, 2014

Essays address gender equality, women’s rights, conversion, issues relating to who is a Jew, the future of the rabbinate, Jewish day schools, and other emerging trends.

Children in the Ancient Near Eastern Household

Kristine Garroway, Ph.D.;
Eisenbrauns, 2014

An exploration of the multiple definitions of child, the way the child fits within a household, and how the child’s gender and social status affect her place in the household.

Windows to the Ancient World of the Hebrew Bible: Essays in Honor of Samuel Greengus

Edited by Bill T. Arnold, Nancy Erickson, and John H. Walton;
Eisenbrauns, 2014

Scholarly essays celebrate Dr. Samuel Greengus and his profound influence on multiple generations of students, now scholars, in the vast field of the study of the Hebrew Bible that he has helped shape

The Ugliness of Moses Mendelssohn: Aesthetics, Religion, and Morality in the Eighteenth Century

Leah Hochman, Ph.D.;
Routledge Jewish Studies, 2014

Philosophical aesthetics, early anthropol- ogy, physiognomy, and portraiture in the 18th-century are lenses on the theory of 18th-century German Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, which recasts ugliness as a positive force for moral education and social progress.

The Bronze Age Cemetery at cAra

David Ilan, Ph.D., Yuval Gadot, Yotam Tepper and Eli Yannai;
Tel Aviv University, 2014

This account of the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of a student excavation at the Bronze Age cemetery at cAra is an excavation report that has much to teach young students embarking on their own salvage digs.

All the World: Universalism, Particularism, and the High Holy Days (Prayers of Awe)

Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, Ph.D.;
Jewish Lights Publishing, 2014

Forty scholars, rabbis, artists, and thinkers from around the world engage in a crucial discussion of what the High Holy Days have to say about universalism and particularism in Judaism.

Grabbing the Lord Around the Neck: Woody Allen, the Book of Job, and Post-Holocaust Jewish Theology

Jason Kalman, Ph.D.;
Centrum pro studium demokracie a kultury, 2014

The biblical Book of Job captured the imagination of many Jews after the Holocaust because it focuses on the question of God’s role in the suffering of the righteous. This exploration of the place of Job in the oeuvre of Woody Allen – his essays, stand-up comedy, and movies – reflects on the Jewishness of his thinking and broader trends in post-Holocaust Jewish thought.

Alphei Shinan

Co-Edited by Rabbi Dalia Marx, Ph.D. and Dr. Gila Vachman;
Yediot Sfarim, 2014

Articles by Professor Avigdor Shinan, honoring his contribution to the study of Midrash, the extended biblical narrative, and the Aramaic translation of Torah and Siddur prayers, are accompanied by a brief response, analysis, or application of new topics in the fields written by fourteen doctorates trained by this scholar.

Between Jewish Tradition and Modernity: Rethinking an Old Opposition, Essays in Honor of David Ellenson

Michael A. Meyer, Ph.D. and David N. Myers, Ph.D., Editors;
Wayne State University Press, 2014

Twenty-one essays honoring Rabbi David Ellenson and focusing on law, ritual, thought, and culture demonstrate that modernity did not simply replace tradition in Judaism, but rather entered into a variety of relationships with it: adopting or adapting certain elements, repossessing rituals that had once been abandoned, or struggling with its continuing influence.

Speaking in the Plural: The Challenge of Pluralism for Jewish Education

Edited by Michal Muszkat-Barkan, Ph.D., Michael Gillis, Ph.D., and Alex Pomson, Ph.D.;
The Hebrew University Magnes Press, 2014

The use of the term “pluralism” has become widespread in the context of Jewish education. This volume seeks to mark out some of the educational dilemmas, possible educational aims, as well as some of the costs and benefits that arise from the encounter between Jewish education and pluralism.

Cherished Moments: Songs of the Jewish Spirit

Cantor Bruce Ruben, Ph.D., and HUC-JIR
Students and Faculty, 2014

This new collection of beautiful and unique choral music, including perfor- mances recorded live at HUC-JIR/New York, includes important new works as well as exciting arrangements of traditional songs that represent the Jewish holidays and life cycle events.

Eugene B. Borowitz: Rethinking God and Ethics

Co-Edited by Hava Tirosh-Samuelson and Aaron W. Hughes;
Brill, 2014

Influential essays explaining Dr. Borowitz’s contribution to Jewish religious thought in the 20th century, including the centrality of God in Jewish existence, the normative force of Jewish law, the meaning of the Covenant, the distinctiveness of Jewish life, and the meaning of Jewish personhood for non-Orthodox Jews.

Maps and Meaning: Levitical Models for Contemporary Care

Rabbi Nancy H. Wiener and Rabbi Jo Hirschmann;
Fortress Press, 2014

Rooted in their experiences as clergy and chaplains and drawing on diverse fields, from neuroscience to anthropology, the authors consider the geographical, interpersonal, temporal, and spiritual transitions individuals experience when they move “in” and “out of the camp” and their impact on family and community.

To Tread on New Ground: Selected Hebrew Writings of Hava Shapiro

Wendy Zierler, Ph.D. and Rabbi Carole B. Balin, Ph.D.;
Wayne State University Press, 2014

Hava Shapiro is among the nearly forgotten Jewish women writers who sought acceptance in Jewish literary circles of the last century. This English anthology of Shapiro’s late-19th- and early-20th-century Hebrew writings culls from her short fiction, feminist literary criticism, reportage, and literary essays, as well as her diary and hundreds of letters.

We Called Him Rabbi Abraham: Lincoln and American Jewry, A Documentary History

Rabbi Gary P. Zola; Ph.D.;
Southern Illinois University Press, 2014

This first volume of annotated documents to focus on the history of Lincoln’s image, influence, reputation among American Jews considers how Lincoln acquired his exceptional status and how this fascinating relationship has evolved to the present day.

In the Illuminated Dark: Selected Poems of Tuvia Ruebner

Rachel Tzvia Back, Ph.D.;
Hebrew Union College Press, 2014

Graceful translations of select poems representative of the seven-decade poetic trajectory of Tuvia Ruebner, an exquisite voice of the 20th-century.

Jewish Culture in Early Modern Europe: Essays in Honor of David B. Ruderman

Richard I. Cohen, Ph.D., Natalie B. Dohrmann, Ph.D., Adam Shear, Ph.D., Elchanan Reiner, Ph.D.;
Hebrew Union College Press, 2014

Thirty-one leading scholars celebrate David B. Ruderman’s career in essays that bring new insight into Jewish culture as it is intertwined in Jewish, European, Ottoman, and American history.

Hebrew Union College Annual, Vol. 82-83

Volumes 82-83, available in print and electronically, offer articles on topics ranging from the Book of Job, to women’s testimony and ecology in Jewish law, to Abarbanel’s views on biblical historiography.

American Jewish Archives Journal, Vol. 65, No. 1 & 2 (2013)

Leading scholars explore Jewish time in early 19th-century America, a study of Moses Lopez’s calendar; remembering Colonel Marcus M. Spiegel, a Jewish Civil War colonel; Herman Rosenthal’s peculiar Eastern-European legacy in Progressive-era New York; and the baptism of four little Roxbury girls: Jewish angst in American’s religious marketplace during the interwar period.




Rabbi David WolpeSinai Temple, Los Angeles;
Cincinnati Ordination Address | May 3, 2014

If you ask a rabbi, “What is it that is your greatest tool? What is it that you have to cultivate and develop?” The answer is, your voice. Your voice is what you live on. Your voice is what that couple will remember from their wedding, what that child will remember from his father’s or mother’s funeral, what your congregants will hear, week after week, when you speak.

Your voice, both literally and metaphorically, has to be your voice. And the more you make it your own, the more you discover it, the more you drill down to what is not the accretions of everybody else’s voice but is really your own, the more it will be remembered.

Be conscious of what you say in it. The more you have the opportunity to be with people at critical, liminal, passionate, powerful moments in their lives, the more you have that chance to change. I hope that you find those moments and that you remember that your voice and your actions can change people forever.

Reverend Otis Moss, Jr., Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, Cleveland; Civil Rights Activist; Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Recipient
Cincinnati Graduation Address | May 4, 2014

May your lives continue to unfold with greatness. As you remember this day, this institution, this environment, this community, may your life be a life of service and leadership in a danger- ous world. There are those who might declare that the world is too divided, leadership too risky, transformation too difficult, justice too elusive, love too dangerous, reconciliation too impossi- ble, injustice too entrenched, hatred too powerful, for each of us, or all of us combined, to make a difference. And I say to those who are graduating today, if you embrace something worth living for, and believe in it so profoundly that death cannot intimidate you, you can live and serve in a dangerous world.



U.S. Ambassador Daniel B. Shapiro, Presidents’ Medallion Recipient

Jerusalem Ordination and Academic Convocation Address | November 13, 2014

For me, this place, this institution, even this building, is ground zero for my personal experience in Israel. Let me explain. My wife and I grew up in the Reform Movement in the United States, learning in our synagogues and summer camp a deep love for Judaism, the richness of Hebrew, the values of tolerance, pluralism, and tikkun olam, and a personal connection to Israel…Today, we find ourselves in Israel in a different role, with different responsibilities, representing our country, the United States, to our ally, the State of Israel. But the truth is, to fulfill these responsibilities, we and our colleagues at the U.S. Embassy draw on the same values we grew up with and continue to champion, and which remain central to your work: strengthening the connection between the American and Israeli peoples; the constant search for peace and security, with two states for two peoples – the very essence of tikkun olam; respect for people of all backgrounds, and all faiths; embracing diversity and coexistence and tolerance and pluralism as signs of strength in democratic societies. Permit me to echo President Obama’s words in celebrating Jewish American Heritage Month in May this year: ‘We also renew our unbreakable bond with the nation of Israel. It is a bond that transcends politics, a partnership built on mutual interests and shared ideals. Our two countries are enriched by diversity and faith, fueled by innovation, and ruled not only by men and women, but also by laws. As we continue working in concert to build a safer, more prosperous, more tolerant world, may our friendship only deepen in the years to come.’ I accept the honor of this Presidents’ Medallion with the pledge to continue to work for the values that the United States, Israel, and Hebrew Union College all share.



Rabbi Richard Levy, Rabbi of the HUC-JIR Synagogue and Director of Spiritual Growth, Jack H. Skirball Campus, HUC-JIR/Los Angeles; Certificate of Recognition Recipient
Los Angeles Ordination Address | May 18, 2014

Be bold. Act with humility – but act boldly. Love boldly. Do God’s commands boldly. Expand Jewish tradition boldly. Do justice boldly. And if you do, if you speak the beautiful words God has taught us out of love, and if you act with courage and sensitivity and conviction, you will lead this people and this Movement into the Promised Land – the Land of passion, of meaning, of holiness, of authenticity – of living by Torah in the presence of God, of living out the Torah-based prophetic tradition that is the Reform Movement in its glory. And because you will have led us out of the wilderness, perhaps God, following Rashi, will find other ways to show us love than by studies – because the Promised Land will be a place for us and all our cohorts to rejoice. Enjoy this day, rabbanei segulah, precious rabbis – and may God light a bonfire in each one of your hearts.


Laura Lauder, Philanthropist; Founder, DeLeT – Day School Leadership through Teaching; American Jewish Distinguished Service Award Recipient

Los Angeles Graduation Address | May 19, 2014

The institutions that you will all be leading in the very near future are grounded in historic, legacy approaches to cultivating and growing Jewish life in our communities. Change is hard in our synagogues, day schools, even here at HUC-JIR. In order to touch the next generation and connect them to a joyful Judaism that is highly relevant in their lives, we must expand our models of innovation – it will be your job to cultivate an ecosystem of innovation and to manage the change in your congregations and communities. We cannot fear change as it is the only path to progress. Albert Einstein put it best: “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.” And the next generation of Jews connect differently, so we must innovate to reach them.



Rabbi Joy D. Levitt, Executive Director, Jewish Community Center of Manhattan; American Jewish Distinguished Service Award Recipient

New York Graduation Address | May 8, 2014

To be human and especially to be Jewish is to live in three tenses at the same time – to know and respect the past, to live and cherish the present, and to hope for and ensure the future – and to hold all of that simultaneously. And we can only do this by connecting the words of our tradition to the experience of our lives. We can only do this when we are authentic and true not to the words in a text, however holy those words are, but to the same process that led those words to be written, the search for holiness and the belief in the greatness of God’s world. The world, and certainly the Jewish world, is stronger today for your presence, your wisdom, your learning, your experiences on the journey. Honor all of it. Pay attention to the tradition and its wisdom and what you see on the way. Remember the final word of our text. God insists on the truth. And so should we.

Rabbi Elka AbrahamsonPresident, The Wexner Foundation

New York Ordination Address | May 11, 2014

You begin your careers at a time of a simmering revolution in Jewish life, at yet another cross- roads in our history. You begin your life as rabbi or cantor as we engage in our unique brand of “it’s good news/it’s bad news discourse” over the state of our community. We are simultaneously fretting – as only we can – and action planning – as only we do. You are not being sent out with a huge klaf and with a weighty charge to maintain the status quo! Adraba, on the contrary, leadership is fundamentally about change. And change is inevitably hard. There will be resistance to your visions, to your sometimes radically new and important ideas, because with change comes loss, the loss of what was, or what is. But with every fiber of my being I believe this to be your generation’s singular leadership challenge: to be change leaders, change leaders who confidently, passionately, and wisely lead our Movement into the next decades.




Dr. Michael A. Meyer
Adolph S. Ochs Professor Emeritus of Jewish History, HUC-JIR

Reverend Otis Moss, Jr.
Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, Cleveland; Civil Rights Activist



Dr. Deborah Weissman
Israeli Orthodox Feminist and Educator



Dr. Steven Windmueller
Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk Professor Emeritus of Jewish Communal Service



Ruth J. Abram
Founder, Lower East Side Tenement Museum

Dr. Eugene B. Borowitz
Sigmund L. Falk Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Education and Jewish Religious Thought, HUC-JIR

Dr. Michael L. Chernick
Professor Emeritus, Deutsch Family Chair in Jewish Jurisprudence and Social Justice, HUC-JIR

Dr. Norman J. Cohen
Professor Emeritus of Midrash, HUC-JIR

Dr. Uri Herscher
President and Founder, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles

Moshe Safdie
Internationally Renowned Architect



Rabbinical Alumni – Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa

Leonardo Alanati
Morris W. Barzilai
Marcelo R. Bronstein
Rachel Cowan
Art Donsky
L. David Feder
Michael L. Feshbach
David Fine
Stuart Gershon
Sim Glaser
Edwin Goldberg
Ammiel Hirsch
Glenn M. Jacob
Michael Joseph
Jeffrey Barnet Kamins
Jonathan E. Kraus
Scott Looper
Shoshana M. Perry
Gayle Pomerantz
Richard S. Rheins
Peter B. Schaktman
Beth J. Singer
Jonathan L. Singer
Sharon L. Sobel
David E. Stern
Eric J. Weiss
Michael Andrew White
Gregory A. Wolfe

Cantorial Alumni – Doctor of Music, honoris causa

Miranda Kark Beckenstein
Susan Berkson
Annie L. Bornstein
Joyce Gerber
Donna Goldstein
Patricia Ernest Hickman
Lisa Lipco Levine
Paul M. Offenkrantz
Betsey Peters-Epstein
Carla J. Boscoe Reynolds
Pamela Siskin

Jewish Nonprofit Management Alumni – Doctor of Jewish Nonprofit Management, honoris causa

Susan K. Alexman
Daniel S. Blain
Sheri Diamond Ginis
Deborah Schloss
Andrea Zoll Stein, z’’l

Graduate Medallion

Bernard A. Taylor, Ph.D.



The American Jewish Distinguished Service Award was presented to Rabbi Joy D. Levitt, Executive Director, Jewish Community Center of Manhattan, at Graduation in New York on May 8, 2014.

The American Jewish Distinguished Service Award was presented to Laura Lauder, Philanthropist; Founder, DeLeT – Day School Teachers for a New Generation, at Graduation in Los Angeles on May 19, 2014.

The Certificate of Recognition was presented to Rabbi Richard Levy, Rabbi of the HUC-JIR Synagogue and Director of Spiritual Growth, at Ordination in Los Angeles on May 18, 2014.

The Sherut La’Am Award was presented to Elizabeth B. and Arthur Roswell, Philanthropists, at Graduation in New York on May 8, 2014.

The 2014 Dr. Bernard Heller Prize was presented by Ruth O. Freedlander, Co-Trustee of the Dr. Bernard Heller Foundation, to Dr. David M. Posner, Senior Rabbi Emeritus, Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York, at Graduation in New York on May 8, 2014. Rabbi Posner was honored for forty years of devoted leadership as the beloved spiritual leader of Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York and for his achievement as a man of exemplary conscience who has devoted his life to the Jewish people.

Ruth O. Freedlander: Rabbi Posner’s rabbinate has been inspired by the biblical instruction that all humankind is created in God’s image. This ethical imperative has guided the growth of this city’s preeminent synagogue into a vibrant center for worship, lifelong learning, and social responsibility to the larger community. Rabbi Posner has nurtured relationships across all faiths, including close friendships with New York City’s Cardinals and Archbishops. He has ensured that individuals of diverse ethnic, religious, and economic backgrounds have received vital assistance at times of need or crisis. He has modeled the essential role of rabbi as teacher and leader for the Reform Movement and the larger world. Rabbi Posner’s religious, intellectual, humanitarian, and pastoral gifts continue to have an indelible impact on the lives of the beloved families of this congregation and on colleagues across the globe.

The Presidents’ Medallion was presented to U.S. Ambassador Daniel B. Shapiro at Ordination and Academic Convocation in Jerusalem on November 13, 2014.

The Sherut La’Am Award was presented to Janice Kamenir-Reznik, Co-Founder, Jewish World Watch, at Graduation in Los Angeles on May 19, 2014.

The 2014 Roger E. Joseph Prize was presented to COPE-Camp Erin® NYC and accepted by Lilly Julien, President and Founder of The COPE Foundation at Ordination in New York on May 11, 2014. This presentation marked the 36th anniversary of the Joseph Prize, established to honor Roger E. Joseph’s personal courage, passionate devotion to principle, and advocacy for social justice.

Lilly Julien: Grieving children are often referred to as the “forgotten mourners.” There’s no clear path for children who have lost a sibling, parent, or someone close to them. Many bereaved children are often at risk. They not only feel isolated in their grief, but their loss is often compounded by their parents’ preoccupation with their own terrible loss. Over the years, COPE has grown to supporting nearly 700 hundred families living with the loss of a child. At Camp Erin NYC, bereaved children ages 6-17 experience a free weekend, where they are given the tools and skills to express their emotions and share their grief in a place that’s safe. In this powerful and emotional experience they find that they are not alone and they bond with others who have survived similar losses. To comfort those who mourn is a mitzvah, a sacred duty, an expression of the injunction to heal the world.