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News at HUC-JIR
Professor Michael A. Signer, z"l
The faculty, students, and administration of HUC-JIR mourn the loss of our beloved friend, teacher, and mentor, Professor Michael A. Signer. Rabbi Signer was Abrams Professor of Jewish Thought and Culture at the University of Notre Dame; an expert in medieval Hebrew and Latin interpretations of and commentaries on the Bible; a leader in Jewish-Catholic dialogue in Israel, Europe, and North America; and an esteemed rabbinical alumnus of HUC-JIR, who served for almost two decades at our Los Angeles campus as Professor of Medieval History and Commentaries and co-chair of the Joint Commission on Inter-religious Affairs of the Reform Movement since 1998. Read more in 'Notre Dame Professor Instrumental in Catholic-Jewish Relations Dies' - Catholic News Service and 'Interfaith Expert Michael Signer Dies' - JTA.
Rabbi Josh Zweiback Appointed Director of the Year-In-Israel Program at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem
Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D., President of HUC-JIR, has announced the appointment of Rabbi Josh Zweiback as Director of the Year-In-Israel Program at HUC-JIR in Jerusalem, effective July 1, 2009. "The appointment of Rabbi Josh Zweiback as Director of our Year-in-Israel program inaugurates an exciting new era in rabbinical education at the College-Institute. His intellectual ability, his Jewish knowledge, his religious sensibility, his love of Israel and Hebrew, his musical talents, and his wealth of congregational and educational experience in the American rabbinate make him uniquely qualified to play a creative role in the formation of our students as they begin their quest for religious leadership in the Jewish world," said Rabbi Ellenson and Rabbi Michael Marmur, Dean, HUC-JIR/Jerusalem.
The Torah: A Women's Commentary, Co-edited by Dr. Tamara Eskenazi and Dr. Andrea Weiss, Chosen as Winner of Jewish Book Council's 2008 Everett Family Foundation Jewish Book of the Year Award
This groundbreaking volume, Co-edited by HUC-JIR Professors Dr. Tamara Eskenazi and Dr. Andrea Weiss and published by the Women of Reform Judaism and URJ Press, features the scholarship of hundreds of women scholars from around the world and incorporates new critical approaches, feminism, and innovative research from the perspectives of Bible scholarship, intellectual history, literature, archaeology, and rabbinic interpretation.
HUC-JIR/NY Hosts Storahtelling's Maven Training Course
Rabbi Renni Altman, Associate Dean and Director of the Rabbinical Program for at HUC-JIR/NY said, "We are so excited to be able to offer to our students and alumni the opportunity to be trained in the innovative approach to interpreting Torah that has been created by Storahtelling. It is very much in harmony with the goals of HUC-JIR to provide our students with exposure to the most current and creative approaches to worship, study and congregational life."
Spotlight on HUC-JIR's Programs and
Research Resources
Kalsman Institute Announces Midrash and Medicine Conference - Registration Now Open
The Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health and the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center announce that registration for "Midrash and Medicine" is now open. The interdisciplinary conference, "Midrash and Medicine: Imagining Wholeness," will be held at the beach-front Asilomar Conference Center on the Monterey Bay peninsula from Monday, May 11 through Wednesday, May 13, 2009. Register at
New WRJ Study Guide for Parashat B'Shalach Now Available
The New Study Guide for The Torah: A Women's Commentary, Parashat B'Shalach, is now available online. Log on to to access the User's Guide and Torah Study Guides.
Seeking Recognition in the Jewish Community
Rabbi Elliot Kukla, a transgender Reform Rabbi based in San Francisco, spoke about the issue at a recent West Coast regional conference of Reform rabbis. He said that he is proud of the recent shift he has seen in the acceptance of transgendered Jews.
Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue Call for Submissions (PDF)
Joshua Stanton, HUC-JIR first-year rabbinical Student, is Co-founder and Co-editor of the Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue, now accepting submissions.
HUC-JIR in the News
Passings: Herbert R. Bloch Jr. - The Los Angeles Times
Herbert R. Bloch Jr., 92, a former senior executive with Federated Department stores who for several years was president of Bullock's department stores in Los Angeles, died Jan. 2 at a hospice in Cincinnati after a brief illness. In addition to his business career, Bloch was a member of the Board of Governors at HUC-JIR.
Louis Firestein, Longtime Austin Rabbi, Dies - Austin American-Statesman
Rabbi Firestein, N '53, was the rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel in Austin from 1962 to 1987. His son said he often worked seven days a week tending to the needs of people in the congregation.
Villaraigosa Defends his Support of Israel - Los Angeles Times
Jewish interest groups have been careful to cultivate ties to Latino politicians as their political influence and the number of new Latino voters grows. Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca this week said he would soon travel to the Middle East to observe the situation. "It's occurring on a variety of political plateaus," said Steven Windmueller, Professor of Jewish Communal Studies at HUC-JIR/LA. "And the expectation exists the candidates that they support . . . will embrace the causes they believe in."
State Weighs Approval of School Dedicated to Hebrew - The New York Times
"It seems to me that if it's successful, it's the type of thing that could grow," said Steven M. Cohen, a Sociologist at HUC-JIR. "With enough charitable funds to kick it off and government funds to support it in Jewishly dense areas, I think there's a population that would want to use the product."
Singing Their Praises - The Jewish Week
Cantor Contzius recently returned from the Songs of Life festival, which took place in Bulgaria and Israel, as part of a tribute to thank Bulgaria and its people for their rescue of its 49,000 Jews during World War II.
The Other Invocation - The Jewish Journal
Clergy have participated in presidential inaugurations since 1937. Harry S. Truman was the first to ask a rabbi to offer a prayer. In 1985, Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk, then President of HUC-JIR, spoke at Ronald Reagan's inaugural.
'Jewish Studies, Jewish Money' - Inside Higher Ed
Lisa D. Grant, Associate Professor of Jewish Education at HUC-JIR said Jewish support "has been good for the field and for higher education in general,"
Tec Makes it to the Big Screen with 'Defiance' - Westport News
Honorary HUC-JIR alumna Nechama Tec's book "Defiance," about Jewish resistance during the Holocaust, has been turned into a Hollywood film.
'Jews Rock!' Rabbi Helps Chronicle Rich Musical History - The Advocate
Rabbi Brian Leiken of Temple Shalom always wanted to be a rock star when growing up. But he said his limited musical talents eventually guided him to do the next best thing: He became a rabbi. Leiken wrote the foreword of photojournalist Janet Macoska's new book, titled the same as his lecture. The 128-page coffee table book contains more than 100 photographs of Jewish rockers.
Upcoming Events at HUC-JIR
Dr. Samuel Atlas Memorial Lecture
Rabbi Gordon Tucker, Senior Rabbi, Temple Israel Center, White Plains, NY, will deliver the 2009 Dr. Samuel Atlas Memorial Lecture at HUC-JIR/NY. Rabbi Tucker will speak on "Thoughts on Prophetic Halakhah" Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. The Dr. Samuel Atlas Memorial Lecture is made possible through the generosity of the Dr. Bernard Heller Foundation. We are grateful to the trustees of the Foundation, Mrs. Ruth O. Freelander, Mrs. Beatrice Weidman, and Carole L. Weidman, Esq.
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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