Turbulence and Serenity

by Robert Thomas Murphy, President, Graduate Student Association

November 15, 2023

Robert Murphy Headshot

The school year thus far has been both turbulent and serene. Since Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7, our HUC community has been very concerned about the subsequent violence and the safety of friends and family members in Israel. In the face of these challenging times, our HUC community has shown resilience and unity. The concern for our friends and family in Israel has drawn us closer together, fostering a sense of solidarity and shared support that is at the core of our graduate school experience. Those of us who are not Jewish and work in non-Jewish circles often are looked to as resources for understanding Judaism, and even more so in recent weeks. I hope we can continue to act as educational resources for our communities and advocates for our Jewish colleagues.

The recent news of the national administration’s decision to stop offering Cincinnati residential degrees in the PSGS has also made the fall semester a little more somber. While this may not have been surprising, it remains an unpleasant thought that we will be marking the end of the Pines School’s legacy in Cincinnati. This fall was also the first time in many years that we did not admit any new students. Because of the decrease in the number of graduate students and on-campus involvement, the GSA reduced the number of offices down to two: President and Vice President, which absorb the responsibilities of the secretary and treasurer.

Despite these adverse circumstances, we still have much for which to be thankful. The College has guaranteed support as we finish our degrees. There is even potential for the remaining students to receive financial support during some of the dissertation-phase, since the Graduate School will no longer be giving scholarships to incoming students. While the fate of the PSGS is out of our control, much remains within our control. As students, we can continue to support one another through the various initiations of graduate school and becoming a part of a broader academic community. Alumni can continue to support current students through their mentorship and friendship.

Although there is an ever-growing concern for those in Israel, the events on campus have been peaceful as students and faculty continue to conduct their coursework and research. There have not been many events directly relating to the Graduate School on campus this semester. On October 5, Dr. Adam Kamesar moderated a stimulating discussion on Seneca hosted by the University of Cincinnati’s Department of Classics. Several HUC students, including myself, were at the event and benefited from hearing scholars answer Dr. Kamesar’s engaging questions. Julia Olson, a current ABD student, also opened her home and invited her fellow graduate students to enjoy a warm meal and fellowship later in the month. Furthermore, the Graduate School is holding a fundraiser in conjunction with the Klau Library. We are selling stickers with the Klau’s lion logo for $3 at the front desk to those who are tired of hydrating themselves from boring old water bottles or who want to spice up their laptop covers (it also comes with a free glitter sticker!). Klau pencils and tote bags are for sale as well. I will bring a limited supply of the merchandise later this month to the SBL annual meeting for alumni who are interested.

The GSA is planning a few special events for the spring semester. One of the events will be a celebration party for the Pines School for both students and faculty. As the number of on-campus students dwindles, we realize that there will be fewer opportunities for students to come together as they tend to become busier with various careers. While the details have not yet been planned, we hope that this event will provide further opportunity for camaraderie among local students as well as create a sense of closure as the program begins to wind down.