Religious, Political Leaders to Mark Dedication of Plaza at Taube Family Campus, Celebrate Growth of Israeli Reform Judaism

Friday, November 11, 2022


“The recent Israeli election highlights the importance of celebrating and elevating strong institutions of progressive Jewish life, as we will do on Sunday,” says Andrew Rehfeld, President of Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion

JERUSALEM – Illustrating the profound impact of Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion’s Taube Family Campus in Jerusalem on the growth of Reform Judaism in Israel and ties between the Reform Movement and the Jewish state, more than 200 religious, philanthropic, and academic leaders from Israel and the U.S. will gather on Sunday, November 13, to dedicate the campus’ newly-designed plaza made possible by a generous gift from the Taube Family Foundation.

President Isaac Herzog will deliver virtual remarks, signaling the increasing embrace of Reform Judaism by Israeli society at a time when the movement is looking for Israel’s leadership to expand its commitment to the pluralism of Israel’s founders. The event is a celebration of the new space that welcomes the community in and further integrates the campus with the city from its flagship position along King David Street.

The plaza, designed by globally-renowned architect Moshe Safdie, opens up the campus to the broader Jerusalem community. (Pictures and renderings available on request.) Safdie has spent more than four decades working with HUC-JIR to develop the campus with the goal of connecting the campus with the city. This plaza is the culmination of that work, enhanced by a partnership with the Jerusalem Foundation.

HUC-JIR’s Taube Family Campus has become a critical component to the growth of the Reform Movement in Israel, with more than 50 Reform communities across Israel led by rabbis trained on the campus. For the first time in its history, the entering class of HUC-JIR’s Israeli rabbinical program is made up entirely of students who grew up in or worked for Reform Movement institutions and congregations in Israel. The robust Israeli rabbinical program is also having a profound impact on the North American rabbinical program, whose students spend their first year on the campus and build a connection with their Israeli counterparts as they learn together.

The dedication will include remarks from professional and lay leaders at HUC-JIR, sharing the impact of this leading institution of Reform Jewish education on their communities and all of Israeli Jewry.

Speaking to the meaning of HUC-JIR to Israeli Jewry and the significance of the dedication, Andrew Rehfeld, President of HUC-JIR, shared, “As a leading laboratory for spiritual exploration, academic inquiry, and experimentation in Jewish living, HUC-JIR/Jerusalem has long functioned as the heart of Israel’s Reform Jewish community. The recent Israeli election highlights the importance of strengthening Jewish pluralism in Israel, and celebrating its strong institutions of progressive Jewish life, as we will do on Sunday.”

Rabbi Naamah Kelman, the first woman rabbi ordained in the State of Israel and the Dean of the Taube Family Campus, HUC-JIR/Jerusalem, added, “HUC-JIR’s goal in 1963 to advance modern Judaism as proud Zionists in the heart of Jerusalem has grown today into a vibrant movement rooted in the land of Israel. HUC-JIR/Jerusalem graduates across our rabbinical, cantorial and educational programs are presiding over a historic growth in the prominence of Reform religious and cultural life, as demonstrated by President Herzog’s participation in our plaza’s dedication on Sunday.”

Juddson Taube, a trustee of Taube Philanthropies, shared, “My family is proud to support HUC-JIR/Jerusalem. The new Taube Family Campus serves as a physical expression of the growth of Reform Jewish life in Israel. Sunday’s dedication of the new plaza, designed by Moshe Safdie, is a milestone moment in that story.”