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Continuing Alumni Education - Scholars
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Reform Liturgy Past and Present: Who are We?
Rabbi David Ellenson


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Learn about the Scholar

The Joint Commission is pleased to welcome HUC-JIR's President David Ellenson to the 2002 Scholars of the 21st Century Program. Dr. David Ellenson will discuss classical liturgical texts that were produced by great Reform Theologians the of 19th Century - Isaac Meyer Wise, Abraham Geiger and David Einhorn.


In two, 90-minute presentations, David Ellenson walks us through examples of classical liturgical texts that were produced by great Reform Theologians the of 19th Century - Isaac Meyer Wise, Abraham Geiger and David Einhorn. In so doing, we will gain a much broader picture of the range of historical liturgical solutions to ideological problems. David will highlight how the authors of these prayer books use translation and substitution to “mute problematic passages” or create liturgy which better speaks to respective contemporary concerns.

The program materials include:

  • Several background articles for David's presentations
  • Selections from several classic siddurim (like Rabbi David Einhorn's 1958 siddur in the photo above) which David will cover on the two call

In addition to David's presentation, the archive contains the archive of a discussion that was moderated by Rabbis Judith Abrams and Yoel Kahn.

Presentations (90 minutes each)
1. European Roots: The Hamburg Siddurim
2. Hebrew Liturgical Creativity in the United States:
Wise and Einhorn

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Scholar's Bio

Dr. David Ellenson is President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion -- the 8th President in its 125 year-long history. He holds the Gus Waterman Herrman Presidential Chair and is the I.H. and Anna Grancell Professor of Jewish Religious Thought at HUC-JIR in Los Angeles. A member of HUC-JIR's faculty since 1979, he has served as Lecturer, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor of Jewish Religious Thought. From 1981-1997, he also held the post of Director of the Jerome H. Louchheim School of Judaic Studies.

Dr. David Ellenson received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1981 and was ordained a rabbi at HUC-JIR's New York School in 1977. He holds masters degrees from Columbia, HUC-JIR, and the University of Virginia. He received his bachelors degree from the College of William and Mary in Virginia in 1969. Born in Brookline, Mass., in 1947, Dr. Ellenson was raised in Newport News, Virginia. He is married to Rabbi Jacqueline Koch Ellenson, ordained at HUC-JIR in New York in 1983. They are the parents of Ruth (married to Robert Guffey Ellenson), Micah, Hannah, Naomi, and Raphael. For a more complete bio, click here.

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