HUC Connect: Webinar

Passionate perspectives from Judaism’s leading thinkers.

HUC Connect logo

Join us for stimulating lecture series with social and cultural influencers

Upcoming Webinars: Fall 2023-2024 Season

(Details subject to change)

Prooftexts and HUC Connect Present
“Like a Sacrifice Ascending from the Flames”: Hadar Goldin’s Mesilat Yesharim in Israeli Religious Nationalist Thought

Monday, May 6, 2:00 pm ET

Nehemia Stern, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Sociology and Anthropology, Ariel University

Mesilat Yesharim, an 18th century work of pietistic and ethical perfection, has been transformed by religious Zionists in Israel into a textual and social experience of civic as well as military duty. This webinar focuses on a contemporary commentary on the text published posthumously by Lt. Hadar Goldin, a casualty of Israel’s 2014 war in the Gaza Strip. Hadar’s body is being held captive by Hamas having yet to be returned to Israel for burial. Dr. Stern demonstrates how Hadar’s version of Mesilat Yesharim functions as a medium through which religious Zionist communities work to balance between the religious, political, and intimately personal obligations inherent within Israeli society. In a larger sense, this webinar highlights how the study of Jewish (sacred) texts can be used as a window into better understanding the competing passions and dilemmas of everyday cultural life.

Register Now

In Memory of Rabbi Aaron D. Panken, Ph.D. on His Sixth Yahrzeit
Judaism in a Digital Age: An Ancient Tradition Confronts a Transformative Era

Thursday, May 9, 2024 at 2:30 pm ET

Rabbi Danny Schiff, Director, Foundation Scholar, Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh; Founder and President, MOJI, the Museum of Jewish Ideas
Andrew Rehfeld, President, moderator

Rabbi Danny Schiff’s new book is critical in helping to frame the future of the Reform Movement. Schiff asks key questions, ranging from topics such as whether existing institutions and approaches can survive alongside a world that is grappling with the digital transformation of society, the role of Judaism as a counter-cultural phenomenon, and how Judaism and our Jewish institutions can respond. In honor of the sixth Yahrzeit of Rabbi Aaron D. Panken, Ph.D., z”l, join us in conversation as Rabbi Schiff sheds light on these ideas and more.

Register Now

Questions? Contact us at

Past Webinars: 2023-2024 Season

HATRED IN THE HEARTLAND: Hubert Humphrey’s Fights Against Antisemitism and Racism on the American Homefront in the 1940s

Thursday, March 21, 2024 at 7:00 pm ET

Samuel Freedman, American author and journalist; Professor, Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University
Rabbi Shirley Idelson, Ph.D., Director, Zelikow School of Jewish Nonprofit Management, ’91; moderator

Hubert Humphrey was elected mayor of Minneapolis in 1945 and, in just three years, transformed it from being nationally notorious for its antisemitism and racism to being nationally acclaimed for its concrete progress on civil rights. How Humphrey accomplished what he did is both dramatic as a part of history and instructive amid the present upsurge in antisemitism. Samuel Freedman will discuss his book, Into the Bright Sunshine: Young Hubert Humphrey and the Fight for Civil Rights, which examines this obscure chapter of Humphrey’s life. It foretells the man who was President Lyndon B. Johnson’s right hand in pushing through the landmark civil rights laws of the mid-1960s and provides a powerful and useful analogue to today’s struggles.

Supporting Jewish Children and Families in a Time of Crisis

Monday, October 30, 2023 at 2:00 pm ET

Sivan Zakai, Ph.D., Sara S. Lee Associate Professor of Jewish Education, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
Rabbi Rebecca Milder, Founding Director, Jewish Enrichment Center
Rabbi Rebecca Rosenthal, Director of Youth and Family Education, Central Synagogue
Joshua Holo, Ph.D., Vice President of Academic Resources, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Moderator

During this moment of trauma and heightened concern, Jewish children are grappling with how to process the terrible things happening in the world and need support from the adults in their lives. Join Dr. Sivan Zakai, Rabbi Rebecca Milder ’07, and Rabbi Rebecca Rosenthal as they contemplate what it looks like to support Jewish children and families, review “best practices,” and discuss the ways in which Jewish institutions and organizations are contributing to these efforts.

Illuminating Ecclesiastes

Wednesday, November 29, 2023 at 7:30 pm ET

Debra Band, Artist and Author, Qohelet: Searching for a Life Worth Living
Adriane Leveen, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer in Hebrew Bible, HUC-JIR 
Jean Bloch Rosensaft, Director, Dr. Bernard Heller Museum, HUC-JIR/New York; moderator

“Vanity of vanities, all is vanity,” “for everything there is a season,” and “the sun also rises” are all drawn from the biblical Book of Ecclesiastes. Artist Debra Band describes how her exquisite calligraphy, micrography, and paintings illuminate the first ever visual interpretation of this entire poetic text. Dr. Adriane Leveen analyzes the enduring wisdom and inspiration of a text expressing the beauty and transience of human life and accomplishments.

Confronting Controversy on Stage

Tuesday, December 5, 2023 at 2:00 pm ET

Ronda Spinak, Artistic Director, The Braid; Executive Producer, StoryNosh
Joshua Silverstein, Writer, Performer, and DEI Consultant, The Braid
Kimberly Green, Actor

Art has the ability to challenge the status quo and encourage us to change our way of thinking. Several pieces produced by The Braid, exemplify this idea, such as True Colors and Sweet Tea and the Southern Jew. The Braid is a story company and non-profit organization grounded in Jewish culture and experience. Representatives from these works will engage in discussion about their connection to their monologues, internal issues they faced when preparing these pieces, and the positive and more difficult reactions they’ve received from audience members about these pieces.

Frank Stella: Jewish Themes

Thursday, December 7, 2023 at 2:00 pm ET

Jean Bloch Rosensaft, Director, Dr. Bernard Heller Museum, HUC-JIR/New York

Discover how Frank Stella, the celebrated American painter, sculptor, and printmaker, has found inspiration in Jewish themes throughout his career, from his earliest minimalist paintings influenced by the Nazi propaganda newsreels of his childhood, his mixed-media “Polish Wooden Synagogue” works commemorating “the obliteration of a culture,” and his Had Gadya narrative abstractions expressing a universal, aspirational message of justice and hope.

Past Webinars: 2022-2023 Season

Israeli Democracy in Crisis?

Civil Society
Thursday, March 16, 2023 at 12:30 pm ET

Mikhael Manekin, Rula Hardal, Andrew Rehfeld headshots

Mikhael Manekin, Israeli Director, Alliance for Israeli’s Future
Rula Hardal, Ph.D., Research Fellow, Kogod Center for the Study of Jewish and Contemporary Thought at the Shalom Hartman Institute
Andrew Rehfeld, Ph.D., President, HUC-JIR; Moderator

The recent election in Israel has provoked massive protests and a surge of commentary in the United States. But what does this moment represent for progressive Israeli Jewish and Palestinian activists? Is the current government a new and unprecedented threat to Israeli democracy, or the latest stage in a long story? And how should Israelis and Palestinians committed to justice and equality — and their American allies — respond? Join Mikhael Manekin and Rula Hardal to discuss these urgent questions.

Regretfully Overlooked: Samuel Hirsch – Philosopher, Advocate of Emancipation, and Radical Reformer

Arts and Culture
Thursday, March 30, 2023 at 1:00 pm ET / 10:00 am PT

Judith Frishman, Thorsten Fuchshuber, David Ellenson headshots

Judith Frishman, Co-Editor, Samuel Hirsch; Professor Emeritus, Jewish Studies, Leiden University Centre for the Study of Religion
Thorsten Fuchshuber, Ph.D., Co-Editor, Samuel Hirsch; Research Associate, Centre Interdisciplinaire d’Étude des Religions et de la Laïcité (CIERL), Université libre de Bruxelles; Journalist
Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D., Chancellor Emeritus; I.H. and Anna Grancell Professor Emeritus of Jewish Religious Thought, HUC-JIR

Rabbi Samuel Hirsch’s story is key to understanding the transnational history of Reform Judaism and the struggle of Jews to secure a place in history and society. En route from Thalfang via Dessau and Luxembourg to Philadelphia, Hirsch strove to strengthen Judaism to meet the demands of modernity and enable its survival in the modern era, leaving his mark on societal, religious, and philosophical debates in increasingly radical stances. As a Hegelian and a Jew he claimed that the actualization of freedom – so central to Hegel’s philosophy – was enabled by Judaism more than any other religion.

What’s the Matter With American Democracy?

Civil Society
Thursday, April 20, 2023 at 2:00 pm ET

Jamelle Bouie and Andrew Rehfeld headshots

Jamelle Bouie, Columnist, The New York Times; Political Analyst, CBS News
Andrew Rehfeld, Ph.D., President, HUC-JIR; Moderator

We generally consider the United States a liberal democracy, but just how democratic is it? Do we live in a country in which political equality is real and shared? What might be required to become the democracy we need? Join New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie for a conversation on these essential questions, as we seek to understand how not only to “protect” democracy but achieve it.

The Crisis of Democracy and the Attractions of Authoritarianism

Civil Society
Tuesday, April 25, 2023 at 1:00 pm ET

Anne Applebaum, Jedediah Purdy, Andrew Rehfeld headshots

Anne Applebaum, Staff Writer, The Atlantic; Pulitzer-prize winning historian; Senior Fellow, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and the Agora Institute
Jedediah Purdy, Raphael Lemkin Professor of Law, Duke Law
Andrew Rehfeld, Ph.D., President, HUC-JIR; Moderator

Across the deep divides of our politics, one sentiment is shared: despair in our democracy and its capacity to respond to our most significant challenges. But what are the causes of that despair and what can we do about it? Why exactly is authoritarianism so popular among so many, both in the United States and throughout Europe? Given the challenges that our democracy faces, do we have the institutions that can respond to the threat or are our institutions part of the problem? And what exactly do we need: stronger protections for minorities, or greater capacity for people to make laws and enact them? HUC will host two of our most esteemed commentators and scholars on these matters, Anne Applebaum and Jedediah Purdy, to discuss and debate these essential questions.

Art and Protest

Arts and Culture
Tuesday, May 2, 2023 at 2:00 pm ET

Dorit Jordan Dotan, Multi-Media Artist
Lloyd Wolf, Award-Winning Freelance Photographer
Jean Bloch Rosensaft, Senior Advisor to the President; Director, Dr. Bernard Heller Museum

Do artists have a responsibility to address social issues? Should they advocate for democratic, inclusive values? What is their role in fighting against racism, antisemitism, and inequities in our society? Dorit Jordan Dotan and Lloyd Wolf, distinguished artists and activists, discuss their mandate as expressed through their creativity.

Exploration of the Oxford Annotated Mishnah

Civil Society
Tuesday, May 9, 2023 at 1:00 pm ET

In Honor of the Fifth Yahrzeit of Rabbi Aaron D. Panken, Ph.D., z”l

Rabbi Dalia Marx, Ph.D., Rabbi Aaron D. Panken Professor of Liturgy and Midrash, HUC-JIR/Jerusalem
Rabbi Dvora Weisberg, Ph.D., Rabbi Aaron D. Panken Professor of Rabbinics; HUC-JIR Rabbinical School Director, HUC-JIR/Los Angeles
Andrew Rehfeld, Ph.D., President, HUC-JIR; Moderator

Our understanding of Jewish values and history rests largely on the bedrock of the Mishnah, the first post-biblical code of rabbinic law, but its technical style and cultural assumptions require skillful navigation if we want to make sense of it for contemporary Judaism. The Oxford Annotated Mishnah: A New Translation of the Mishnah With Introductions and Notes (Oxford University Press), edited by Shaye J.D. Cohen, Robert Goldenberg, and Hayim Lapin is the first annotated translation of this work, providing explanations of technical terms and making the text accessible to those without specialist knowledge. In honor of the fifth Yahrzeit of Rabbi Aaron D. Panken, Ph.D., z”l, join two HUC-JIR contributors and Panken Professors, Rabbi Dalia Marx, Ph.D. and Rabbi Dvora Weisberg, Ph.D., as they discuss the significance of this important work.

Religion and Reproductive Rights: Judaism’s Voice in the Public Square

Civil Society
Tuesday, May 30, 2023 at 2:00 pm ET

Nancy Norhtrup and Andrew Rehfeld headshots

Nancy Northup, Ph.D., President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:
Andrew Rehfeld, Ph.D., President, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion; Moderator

Join us for a conversation with Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, the organization that will receive the 2023 Roger E. Joseph Prize. Dr. Northup and Dr. Rehfeld will discuss Judaism’s historical view on the major ideas surrounding reproductive rights. Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion’s highest award, the Roger E. Joseph Prize, is presented annually to outstanding individuals, organizations, or institutions whose work fulfills the highest ethical and humanitarian values of our tradition. The Joseph Prize was established in 1978 by Burton Joseph and Betty Greenberg, of blessed memory, to honor the memory of their brother, Roger E. Joseph, a man of exceptional personal courage and passionate conviction to principle and justice.


Questions? Contact us at