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Alysa Stanton - First African-American Woman in the World to Be Ordained a Rabbi - at HUC-JIR's Ordination Ceremonies in Cincinnati
Alysa Stanton, the first African-American woman in the world ever to be ordained a rabbi, will be ordained by Rabbi David Ellenson, President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), on Saturday, June 6th at 9 am at Cincinnati's landmark Plum Street Temple. She will be among 14 new rabbis (10 women, 4 men) who will be ordained in Cincinnati and one of the 43 rabbinical graduates of the Class of 2009 (30 women, 13 men) at HUC-JIR's ordination convocations at its stateside campuses in New York, Los Angeles, and Cincinnati during this 134th academic year.
Dr. Eugene B. Borowitz to Receive Honorary Doctor of Letters at JTS Commencement
Dr. Eugene B. Borowitz, Sigmund L. Falk Distinguished Professor of Education and Jewish Religious Thought at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), will be awarded an Honorary Doctor of Hebrew Letters at the 115th Commencement Exercises of The Jewish Theological Seminary, which will be held on May 21 in New York City.
Honorary Degrees and Awards Presented at Graduation in New York
Doctors of Humane Letters, honoris causa: American Jewish Distinguished Service Award: Rabbinical Alumni - Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa Cantorial Alumni - Doctor of Music, honoris causa Education Alumni - Doctor of Jewish Religious- Education, honoris causa
"On Your Own?" - The Relationship between the Sexes, Transparent Borders, Dilemmas and Challenges in 21st-Century Feminism" - Conference at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem
HUC-JIR/Jerusalem presented the conference "On Your Own?" - The Relationship between the Sexes, Transparent Borders, Dilemmas and Challenges in 21st-Century Feminism" on May 12th in honor of this year's Rabbi Sally J. Priesand Fellowship recipients in Jerusalem: Dr. Orna Sasson-Levy of Bar Ilan University and Dr. Andrea Weiss of HUC-JIR/New York.
HUC Press Announces Publication of "A Great Voice that Did Not Cease"
By Michael Chernick

In this seminal study, Michael Chernick demonstrates how hermeneutical methods confronted the difficulties that arose for the Rabbis when various literary and logical problems appeared in scriptural texts and later in rabbinic texts. Given the Rabbis' theological, literary, and rhetorical concerns, these reading strategies were adopted to obviate the problems the texts presented.
Spotlight on HUC-JIR's Programs and
Research Resources
Conference Explores Healing Potential of Biblical Texts - Jewish Journal (scroll down to 5th brief)
The conference focuses on midrash, "the rabbinic process of finding contemporary meaning in biblical text," according to keynote speaker Rabbi Normal Cohen, a professor of midrash at HUC-JIR in New York. Midrash "uses the text to respond to the challenges we face either personally or communally as a Jewish community," he said. "Through a process of reflection we come to a better understanding of who we are, both as individuals and in relationships, and who we can become." Cohen discusses the interaction of Joseph and his brother Judah to explore the notion that people are capable of change. "Midrash cannot overcome disease, but it can... help us repair relationships with others and gain a sense of what's important in life," he said.
Upcoming Events at HUC-JIR
SSM Choir in Concert at Temple Beth Emeth, Albany, NY
The May 21st concert will pay tribute to Cantor Glenn Groper (SSM 1973), who is celebrating his twentieth year with the congregation. The SSM Choir, made up of cantorial students from the second and third years, will be singing liturgical settings by Bloch, Rossi, Weill, Glick, Shirona, and Solomon, as well as music in honor of Yom Yerushalyim by Applebaum, Amiran, Goldman, Braun, Shemer, Karen, Starer, and Osborne.
National Invitation to Graduation, Investiture, and Ordination
Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D., President of HUC-JIR, has announced the class of 2009, who will be ordained, invested, and graduated this spring in Cincinnati, Los Angeles, and New York. He said, "The Class of 2009 emerges from the College-Institute imbued with leadership skills, steeped in knowledge, strengthened by a commitment to service, and dedicated to bringing hope and healing to our troubled world. As they touch the lives of others through their sacred work as rabbis, cantors, educators, communal professionals, scholars, and pastoral care-givers throughout North America and around the world, they will be a source of inspiration and guidance." Rabbi Ellenson announced the Roger E. Joseph Prize, the 2009 Dr. Bernard Heller Prize, and recipients of the Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa. HUC-JIR alumni will be awarded honorary Doctorates of Divinity, Music, Jewish Religious Education, and Jewish Communal Service, as well as the Founders' Medallion, in recognition of their 25 years of distinguished professional service.
HUC-JIR in the News
A black woman's journey to the rabbinate in North Carolina - CNN
When Alysa Stanton officially becomes a rabbi next month, she'll be walking into history. She'll become the first African-American woman ever to be ordained as a rabbi and the first African-American rabbi to lead a majority white congregation, according to the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.
First African-American Female Rabbi to Rake N.C. Pulpit - JTA
Last May the JTA interviewed Alysa Stanton, a Hebrew Union College rabbinical student who insisted she never set out to be the world's first African-American female rabbi. But that's what she'll become after her June 6 ordination at the Reform seminary's Cincinnati campus. "I represent the new face of Judaism, a new era of inclusiveness," she told the JTA by phone Sunday. "I'm honored to have this opportunity, and I'm thankful to my God for making it happen."
First Black Female Rabbi to Take N.C. Pulpit - JTA
She will be the first African-American rabbi to lead a majority white congregation, despite the fact that about 20 percent of the American Jewish community is ethnically and racially diverse, according to the San Francisco-based Institute for Jewish and Community Research. Stanton's ordination will provide young black Jewish Americans "with an important role model," says Diane Tobin, associate director of the institute. "Hopefully over time they will see themselves reflected in the community."
Pulpit of Color - NY Jewish Week
Rabbi Kanter said Stanton's prior career, as a licensed psychotherapist specializing in grief and loss - she was called upon to counsel people after the Columbine High School massacre in 1999 - "is an important talent to bring to the rabbinate." Steven M. Cohen, an HUC research professor of Jewish social policy, said "She crosses both religious and ethnic boundaries in her own life, representing a pioneering model of Jewish continuity. ... She is not alone in that the number of converts and others coming to Judaism from non-conventional backgrounds is probably at its peak in American life."
10 Minutes with ... Alysa Stanton - Religion News Service
The journey started when a cantor taught me to chant Torah. Something stirred in me. I became a cantorial soloist, I taught religious school. It's been a journey of faith and perseverance and tenacity. I'm a rabbi who happens to be an African-American woman, but I'm not coming as the "black rabbi," I'm coming as a rabbi. Just being a rabbi period, and being a female, and being the first African American female rabbi in the world will carry its own challenges, joys, triumphs and trials because it's paving new ground. Some of the challenges that I will face, I'm not aware of yet.
Black Woman to be Rabbi - Cincinnati Enquirer
Alysa Stanton remembers growing up in a Jewish neighborhood in Cleveland, when an uncle gave her a book of Hebrew grammar. "The stirrings were there," says Stanton, who grew up as a Pentecostal Christian. "It just took me a while to come home." After decades of searching in her spiritual life, the 45-year-old Stanton appears to be home to stay.
Black and Female: Another First for the Rabbinate - LA Jewish Journal
Last summer the rabbinate got its first black member from sub-Saharan Africa. This summer it's getting its first African-American female.
Court: Stop Discrimination of Non-Orthodox - Jerusalem Post
In a decision that could lead to dramatic changes in the status quo on religion-state issues, the High Court of Justice in Israel on Tuesday ordered the government to stop discriminating against Reform and Conservative conversion institutes in favor of Orthodox ones with regard to funding. Until now, non-Orthodox conversion programs have not been eligible for funding, which is provided by the Immigration Absorption Ministry to Orthodox schools. Attorney Einat Horowitz, who represented the petitioner, the Movement for Progressive Judaism in Israel, told The Jerusalem Post afterward that the court's decision could influence the outcome of other current and future legal actions brought by the Reform Movement. These included calling on the government to pay salaries for Reform rabbis and to allow non-Orthodox converts to use public ritual baths to immerse themselves as part of the conversion process, she added.
Jewish Day Schools Facing an Economic Crisis - LA Times
Jewish campuses in Southern California and across the nation are financially ailing, prompting calls for major education reforms and increased support from the wider Jewish community. "We had over 50% of our students on tuition assistance and were happy to be able to do so because we didn't want Jewish education to be just for the elite or rich," Eve Fein, RHSOE '87, said. "But it caught up with us."
(En)Gendering Legal Analysis: Feminist Approaches to Jewish and Islamic Legal Sources
Dr. Rachel Adler will lecture on "The Path is Made by Walking: Towards a Feminist Jewish Law" at the University of Toronto on May 26th. Jewish feminist theologian Rachel Adler and Islamic text scholar Kecia Ali, have each insisted that Jewish law (halacha) and Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) should not simply be ignored or rejected by feminists and other progressive Jews and Muslims. On May 26th at 6:30 p.m., feminist scholars Adler and Ali will be brought into conversation with one another to break new ground on the relationship between law, religion, and gender in our world today.
How Do You Recognize That a Place Is Sacred? - Jewish Exponent
Dr. Lawrence Hoffman writes: The Torah portion this week instructs us, "Venerate my sanctuary." The most obvious meaning of "sanctuary" is the Temple, but the term extends to places after the Temple's destruction, like synagogues and seminaries. We should include our own homes as well. We do not just say blessings over such places; we put up mezuzot -- the announcement that we ourselves have summoned God to lend a presence here.
Oneness at 30,000 Feet: Parshat Behar-Bechukotai (Leviticus 25:1-27:34) - Jewish Journal
Rabbi Anne Brener, LA '08, MAJCS '83, writes: Behar-Bechukotai warns that our rewards and punishments will be determined by how we fulfill our obligation to care for creation, according to God's laws and decrees. This resonates with the apprehension I feel as we prepare for summer during an unprecedented heat wave and fear for our warming planet.
Crossing Cultures- News-Leader, Springfield, MO
Cantor Shayna Peavey, SSM '07, will bring her music to her native Springfield Sunday to share the beautiful and sometimes bitter story of Beta Israel -- ancient Ethiopian Jews."Their story is completely unique in the world," says Peavey, 30, who researched Beta Israel for her master's thesis at Hebrew Union College, presenting her work through music. The concert will also feature flutist Mattan Klein, son of former HUC-JIR/Jerusalem dean Michael Klein, z"l, and members of his music group Seeds of Sun
Right of Reply: Collective Action Can Make Every Philanthropic Dollar Effective - Jerusalem Post
The key to success during the current economic climate is neither to spurn new ideas nor to continue to allow everyone to make Shabbat for themselves. Rather, we must allow those new ideas to take root in existing organizations while simultaneously encouraging those organizations to work together to eliminate unnecessary duplication and redundancies in the Jewish communal world. Both private and public conversations about consolidation are beginning to take place in boardrooms throughout our community. For instance, Rabbi David Ellenson, president of the Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion, recently sent an open letter to faculty, students, alumni and friends of the HUC explaining the need to seriously consider consolidating its three stateside campuses (Cincinnati, Los Angeles and New York) into a new, more streamlined configuration, while still supporting its Jerusalem campus. (Sandy Cardin)
Message From Our Rabbis - Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills
Without the Hebrew Union College, we wouldn't have rabbis or educators to serve our congregations. And without the Hebrew Union College, we wouldn't have communal professionals to lead the Federations and the Jewish agencies that do everything from care for the vulnerable to inspire the next generation of young Jews to shape the future of the Jewish world. We take for granted that there will be a Jewish future, and that we will have rabbis, educators and communal leaders to help shape it. This weekend reminded me that this is only true if we continue to value the source of the learning and the training that makes that future possible, the Hebrew Union College. (Rabbi Laura Geller)
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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