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Welcome to the 2008-2009 Academic Year!
News at HUC-JIR
Rabbi Richard Levy Appointed Rabbi of the Campus Synagogue and Director of Spiritual Growth at HUC-JIR/LA
Rabbi David Ellenson has appointed Rabbi Richard Levy as Rabbi of the Campus Synagogue and Director of Spiritual Growth, a full-time position effective July 1, 2009. In this capacity, he will continue to direct the worship program as well as teach and offer advisement in areas of liturgy and student spiritual development. "Rabbi Levy has served as a spiritual mentor to many of our students during his tenure as school director and in his capacity as a teacher and resource to students in all of our three graduate professional training programs," said Rabbi Ellenson.
Dr. Dvora Weisberg Appointed Director of the School of Rabbinical Studies at HUC-JIR/LA
Rabbi David Ellenson has appointed Professor Dvora Weisberg, Associate Professor of Rabbinic Literature and Director of the Lainer Beit Midrash at HUC-JIR/ Los Angeles to be the Director of Rabbinical Studies, effective July 1, 2009. Rabbi Ellenson said "Professor Dvora Weisberg is admired by her students as demonstrated by the popularity of her courses; students readily seek her out for guidance and counsel. Her colleagues speak with pride of her academic rigor, intellectual focus, and sustained commitment to her students' growth. These qualities define Dr. Weisberg's devotion to the College-Institute and to the world of Jewish learning."
HUC-JIR Announces New Visiting Faculty in Israel Studies
Rabbi David Ellenson has announced the appointment of Dr. Meir Seidler as HUC-JIR's first Visiting Professor of Israel Studies. Dr. Seidler is a joint appointment by HUC-JIR/LA with the University of Southern California (USC), for the 2008-2009 academic year, to be followed in 2009-2010 with an additional joint appointment by HUC-JIR/NY with the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS) in New York. These visiting faculty positions have been made possible by a grant from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation in conjunction with the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprises' Scholar Development Fund. HUC-JIR's matching grant for this project has been generously funded by Lief Rosenblatt and Elliott and Robin Broidy.
Rabbi Julie Pelc Named Director of Berit Mila Program of Reform Judaism
Rabbi Norman Cohen, Provost of HUC-JIR, has announced that the administration of the Berit Mila Program of Reform Judaism, a joint project of the CCAR, HUC-JIR, the URJ, and of NOAM (the National Organization of American Mohalim), is moving to the HUC-JIR/LA campus. Rabbi Pelc succeeds Rabbi Donielle Aaron.
HUC-JIR Joins with URJ to Support Progressive Israeli Rabbis
HUC-JIR alumni need support to continue to lead the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism. They are men and women who share a common vision of an Israel where they can practice Judaism that is both compelling and contemporary.
HUC-JIR Joins the Omar Ibn Al Khattab Foundation and USC to Form Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement
The Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement aims to promote dialogue, understanding, and grassroots congregational and academic partnerships among Jewish and Muslim communities. The center's initiatives to-date include events promoting interfaith engagement, as well as partnerships to bring Judaic studies to universities in Muslim nations. Future plans call for expanded grassroots collaborations and the online dissemination of scholarly work on the Abrahamic faiths.
Eleven Students Graduate with Certificate in Jewish Communal Service from the Los Angeles Campus of HUC-JIR
The ceremony, marking the 40th anniversary of the SJCS, was the culmination of the students' rigorous course of study in management and leadership concepts, contemporary Jewish issues, and Jewish history and tradition under leading faculty and practitioners in Jewish education and communal service during the past two summers and academic year.
Alumni Obituaries
Spotlight on HUC-JIR's Programs and
Research Resources
Mifgash Musicale Held at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati
Mifgash Musicale, a unique collaboration between HUC-JIR, the Union for Reform Judaism, and the Guild of Temple Musicians, was held in Cincinnati from July 27-31, 2008. Mifgash Misicale is an intensive Jewish Music seminar, now in its ninth year, which educates synagogue musicians with basic fundamental knowledge about worship in the synagogue.
Future Reform Rabbinical Leaders Grapple with Questions of Collectivity and Jewish Peoplehood
"Rabbi Ellenson's participation not only added to the high quality of the discussions but conveyed his deep commitment to the importance of this initiative in preparing these future Reform rabbis for their leadership roles," said Professor Sara S. Lee of HUC-JIR, who is project leader for the HUC-JIR Mandel Fellows Program, together with Professor Dan Pekarsky.
HUC-JIR in the News
"A Tragic Annulment," by Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D. - The Jerusalem Report
"The recent decision by the highest Haredi legal authority in Israel to annul conversions to Judaism conducted by religious Zionist Rabbi Haim Druckman is not only blatantly unjust, it flies in the face of centuries of Jewish practice," writes Rabbi Ellenson.
Reform, Conservative Seminaries in Historic Partnership to Train Clergy - JTA
"I do think we live in an age where there is much greater permeability among denominations than was present in previous generations," said Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D., President of HUC-JIR. Ellenson and Eisen both stress that important distinctions remain between the Conservative and Reform movements, and that the growing partnership between the schools does not represent an effort to erase those differences. Rather, they say, certain communal challenges transcend those differences and ought to be addressed jointly. (Also, see "Meeting of the Seminary Minds" in The Jewish Week)
How Modernity Changed Judaism - Interview with David Ellenson - JCPA Institute for Global Jewish Affairs
Ellenson says: "When modernity began, the issue for many Jews was 'how do I become modern.' Nowadays there is no problem with being 'modern.' When Jews judge Jewish culture, they judge it in light of values taken from the larger world. And for many a new issue arises - 'how do I become Jewish.'"
HUC-JIR Provost Norman Cohen Featured on Shalom TV
Representatives from American Jewry's three principal rabbinical schools exchanged views on the Jewish future: Rabbi Norman Cohen, Provost of the Reform Movement's Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion; Rabbi Arnold Eisen, Chancellor of the Conservative Movement's Jewish Theological Seminary of America; and Richard Joel, President of the Orthodox Movement's Yeshiva University.
Life and Death on King David Street - The Jerusalem Post
Rabbi Michael Marmur, Dean of HUC-JIR/Jerusalem, writes, "Those who try to bring death to this place of life will not succeed, even if (Heaven forbid) a future attack yields casualties. Somehow the untidy yet intense drama being played out in the street - Jews and Arabs, locals and tourists, Liberals and Traditionalists, wealthy and modest - must not be curtailed. It may have its tractors and its detractors, but the spirit of King David Street cannot be bulldozed."
Who Uses Yiddish Words? Maybe You - Chicago Sun Times
The online survey is the work of linguist Sarah Bunin Benor of Los Angeles and sociologist Steven M. Cohen of New York, faculty members at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. The study aims to determine who uses Yiddish and Hebrew words and how, as well as other distinctive hallmarks of Jewish speech such as phrasing and pronunciation. The researchers sent out their queries about a month ago, hoping for 2,000 responses. They wound up with more than 41,000 and have started analyzing the data earlier than expected.
Storied L.A. Shul Thinks Big, Seeks $100 Million - The Forward
David Kaufman, who is Professor of Jewish Studies at HUC-JIR/LA and an expert in the history of synagogues, said there are positives and negatives to the phenomenon. The benefit, Kaufman said, is that a large synagogue can afford to sponsor a wide range of classes and programs that enhance Jewish identity outside of religious practice.
Music, Song Drive Cantors' Work - Poughkeepsie Journal
"The role of cantor is changing very rapidly," said Dr. Bruce Ruben, Director of the School of Sacred Music at HUC-JIR/NY. "In Reform Judaism, cantors are still going to be the specialist of the service. But in addition, there is more of a co-clergy. The cantor will help with all aspects of the job."
Jewish Prayer for Persisting: Moving Beyond Misheberach - Spirituality and Health
"To pray for the 'complete healing of body and spirit' is to misjudge the realties of many people's lives. To understand or redefine 'healing' as 'making peace with one's fate' is to alter the meaning of the prayer and it may also serve to ignore our specific kind of suffering and its ever-changing realities," writes Rabbi Julie Pelc, Director of the Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health.
Upcoming Events at HUC-JIR
An Evening with Dr. Susannah Heschel, Wednesday, September 3, 2008, at the American Jewish Archives
Dr. Heschel will speak on The Spiritual Audacity of My Father - Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, at the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati. Dr. Gary P. Zola, Executive Director of the Archives, will introduce Dr. Heschel, and the evening's respondents, who will offer their perspectives on Rabbi Heschel's important legacy, include U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, Rabbi David Ellenson, HUC-JIR President; and Bishop E. Lynn Brown, Prelate of the Second Episcopal District of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.
Envisioning Maps Opens at HUC-JIR/NY Museum with Artists' Reception September 25, 2008
Thirty-three contemporary artists in this group show present works that create or employ maps as metaphors for human relationships, historical experience, social values, and issues of identity and heritage. The artists' reception will be held in the galleries at HUC-JIR/NY September 25, 2008, from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
High Holy Day/Sukkot/Simchat Torah Services at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem
The schedule of worship services is available online.
Integrating Sephardi and Mizrachi Studies: Research and Practice, to be Held November 16-18, 2008 in Los Angeles
Leading scholars from Israel, the United States, and elsewhere will present research on the diversity of Sephardi and Mizrachi experiences and traditions. Presentations will also focus on the role of Sephardi and Mizrachi studies in educational settings offering perspective and insights from a range of educators. Two evening programs will include a concert (Nov. 16th) and a discussion on the rise of Los Angeles' Persian Jewish Community (Nov. 17th).
Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is the nation's oldest institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and communal service professionals and offers graduate and post-graduate degree programs for scholars of all faiths. With campuses in Cincinnati, Los Angeles, New York, and Jerusalem, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise renowned library, archive, and museum collections, the American Jewish Archives, biblical archaeology excavations, research centers and institutes, and academic publications. HUC-JIR invites the community to an array of cultural and educational programs that illuminate Jewish history, culture, and contemporary creativity, and foster interfaith and multi-ethnic understanding. Visit us at

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