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News Briefs from Jerusalem

  • Rabbi David Ellenson is Keynote Speaker at CCAR Convention in Jerusalem
Rabbi David Ellenson, President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, is the keynote speaker at the CCAR Convention's national Beit Midrash in Jerusalem, attended by 300 Reform rabbis and 300 participants from various pluralistic learning centers from throughout Israel. The program, held at Binyanei HaUmah, the convention center in Jerusalem, represents a significant opportunity for text study, linking progressive leaders, thinkers, and students in Israel and the Diaspora.

  • President's Rabbinical Alumni Council Meets at Jerusalem Campus
Members of Rabbi Ellenson's President's Rabbinical Alumni Council met on the Jerusalem campus on February 23-24. Twenty prominent rabbinical leaders from throughout North America convened to discuss issues relating to HUC-JIR's academic programs in Israel and the role HUC-JIR is playing in advancing religious pluralism in the Jewish State. The opening reception and dinner featured a discussion on "Visions for the Future: New Leadership and Changes in Jerusalem" with Dr. Michael Marmur, Dean; Rabbi Naamah Kelman, incoming Dean; and Rabbi Josh Zweiback, incoming Director of the Year-In-Israel Program. The Council attended services, followed by presentations and discussions with Israeli rabbinical students, and sat in on classes with Year-In-Israel students.
Survey of Jewish Synagogues Presents Deep Support for Inclusion of LGBT Jews in Jewish Communities
Gay Jewish leaders released new research results on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) inclusion in the Jewish world at a strategy session in New York City on February 22 and 23, co-sponsored by the Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and Jewish Mosaic, a managed project of Jewish Funds for Justice. The research showed deep support for the inclusion of LGBT Jews in Jewish communities.
Upcoming Events at HUC-JIR
School of Sacred Music to Present Composers' Showcase on March 26th
Save the Date for the School of Sacred Music's HUC-JIR Composers' Showcase on Thursday, March 26, 2009. The concert will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the Minnie Petrie Synagogue at HUC-JIR/NY. The concert will feature original works by current HUC-JIR students and faculty in a variety of styles, including liturgical, folk, and other Jewish music.
New Artists Share their Work at HUC-JIR/LA: Doni Silver Simons and Marcia Falk
"Marked", an exhibit by Doni Silver Simons, and "Inner East: Illuminated Poetry and Blessings", by Marcia Falk, will be on view through June 30, 2009, at HUC-JIR/LA. Simons says, "A preoccupation with marking and a profound respect for time initially inspired this work." A poet, translator, and painter, Falk weds pencil drawings and oil pastel paintings with passages from two of her books, "The Song of Songs: Love Lyrics from the Bible" and "The Book of Blessings: New Jewish Prayers for Daily Life, the Sabbath, and the New Moon Festival."
Spotlight on HUC-JIR's Programs and
Research Resources
Upcoming Faculty Lectures
  • Sharon Koren, Assistant Professor of History at HUC-JIR/NY, will be speaking at the Jewish Feminist Research Group on March 11, 2009. Held at the Jewish Theological Seminary, Koren will be speaking on the Eve/Mary Dichotomy in the Zohar.
  • Alyssa Gray, Professor of Codes and Responsa Literature at HUC-JIR/NY, will be the scholar-in-residence at Temple Emeth in Teaneck, NY on March 27-28, 2009. Gray will be speaking about social justice issues in Jewish tradition.
  • Dr. Nili Fox, of HUC-JIR/NY, will be speaking at "Tablet and Torah: Mesopotamia and the Biblical World A Conference in honor of Dr. Barry L. Eichler" at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, March 30, 2009. Dr. Fox will be delivering a lecture entitled, "Marker for Servitude: Mesopotamia and the Bible."
HUC-JIR in the News
At 85, Borowitz Still Sparring With Students - The Jewish Week
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the flagship educational institution of the Reform movement, celebrated the 85th birthday of Rabbi Dr. Eugene B. Borowitz, one of its most prominent and beloved teachers, not only with a birthday cake last week, but also by challenging him intellectually. He wouldn't have had it any other way.
North American Reform Rabbis to Meet in Jerusalem This Week - The Jerusalem Post
More than 300 Reform rabbis from North America will convene in Jerusalem this week for their annual rabbinical conference, seeking to bolster the tiny Reform Judaism movement in Israel. The six-day event, which opens Tuesday, aims to strengthen the liberal movement's ties with Israel and build bridges to its religious and secular communities. Rabbi Josh Zweiback, the new head of HUC-JIR's Year-In-Israel program, will be a participant.
Saperstein to Serve on Obama's Advisory Council on Faith-Based Issues - RAC
Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, was today named by President Barack Obama to serve on the new President's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The advisory council will comprise 25 religious and secular leaders and scholars who will work with the newly re-envisioned Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, which serves to mobilize community organizations, religious or otherwise, to provide effective social services. The official White House press release can be found here.
Survey: Few Synagogues Actively Welcome Gays - JTA
Dr. Steven Cohen, a Research Professor of Jewish Social Policy at HUC-JIR, and Caryn Aviv, a Jewish studies scholar at the University of Denver, conducted a transdenominational synagogue survey on LGBT inclusion and diversity. The survey questioned 1221 North American rabbis, synagogue directors, and board presidents, and found that 73 percent of respondents believe that their congregations do a good or excellent job welcoming gay and lesbian Jews.
When Jacob Has Two Mommies - The Jewish Week
Many synagogue leaders also fear that if they welcome gay and lesbian congregants, they might lose members who oppose LGBT inclusion, according to co-author Steven M. Cohen, Research Professor of Jewish Social Policy at HUC-JIR. But in the survey, 41 percent of rabbis whose congregations proactively reached out to gay and lesbian Jews reported gaining members as a result, and only two percent reported losing members, he said.
Study Kicks Off Gay Outreach Effort - The Forward
Three-quarters of the rabbis who responded to an unprecedented new survey on diversity said they thought their congregations already do a "good to excellent" job of welcoming gay Jews. But for the gay Jewish advocacy group that undertook the survey, that's precisely the problem. Jewish Mosaic and its partners in the project, including Hebrew Union College's Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation, unveiled their findings at a gathering of 60 clergy and lay leaders on February 22 at Manhattan's Upper West Side JCC.
Orthodox Irate Over Women Rabbis' Prayer at Western Wall - Haaretz
North American female rabbis from the Reform Movement stirred up controversy at the Western Wall Wednesday, when they defied Orthodox Jewish customs by praying and singing aloud while wearing prayer shawls and skull caps at the holy site. Among them was Rabbi Jacqueline Koch Ellenson, Director of the Women's Rabbinic Network, the support and advocacy organization of women who are Reform rabbis and rabbinical students.
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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