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Best wishes for a joyful Hanukkah!
News at HUC-JIR
Rabbi David Ellenson on the FSU Pesach Project
Watch a video interview with Rabbi David Ellenson on the Pesach Project - HUC-JIR students leading Passover celebrations for thousands of Jews throughout the Former Soviet Union.
Joshua Stanton, N '13, Receives Interfaith Award
Joshua Stanton recently received the Bridge Builders Leadership Award from the Interfaith Youth Core at their 6th Conference on Interfaith Youth Work. The award recognizes his significant contribution to the field of interfaith work and study, in this case for his efforts to found the Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue ( The Journal now has thousands of readers from around the world and is broaching challenging topics in an academically rigorous manner, ensuring that academia and social leadership inform each other and contribute in unison to this rapidly expanding field.
Faculty Articles
Apocalypse Then - Reform Judaism Magazine
Dr. Joshua Garroway writes: Jesus thought the world as he knew it was about to end, and he taught and acted accordingly. That's what I tell people when they ask me who Jesus really was. Many are taken aback when they hear me say this. Such doomsaying conjures up images of unctuous televangelists and megaphoned prophets in New York's Times Square. Most people imagine Jesus as a more exalted figure than a mistaken herald of the end-times. But such a view of Jesus is not as odd as it might seem. While for modern Jews the notion of end-times seems peripheral at best, it aroused great fervor among our ancestors in first-century Judea.
Subtly, Interreligious Dialogue Brings Leaders Closer - Jewish Journal
Dr. Reuven Firestone writes: Last week I attended a conference on interreligious dialogue in Doha, the capital of the tiny state of Qatar on the Persian Gulf. The Doha meeting was unlike the dialogue programs I've attended in the States, made up of hopeful people of good will but with little experience – and lots of naivete. In Doha I joined Christians from Baghdad and Aleppo, Muslims from Hebron and Beirut, and Jews from France and Argentina who all experienced quite personally and horrifically the blunt end of religious violence.
Taking Back Chanukah - Jewish Journal
Dr. Steven Windmueller writes: Along with Passover, Chanukah has come to symbolize the current status of American Jews. As these holidays contain a universal message, they contribute to the broader religious spirit and cultural pluralism that defines this society. For certain, a counterrevolution is underway, designed to "take back" Chanukah and to ensure its own unique, though limited, place within Jewish tradition. The menorah, it is argued, symbolizes the rebirth of the Jewish state and the Jewish nationalist expression. At its core, some would suggest, Chanukah is an expression of Jewish pride, challenging the notions of assimilation as demonstrated in some of its contemporary forms. The story of the Maccabees is seen as the assertion and celebration of Jewish identity. The holiday's internal message remains centered on preserving and building upon the Jewish experience.
The Gift of the Holy Spirit - Jewish Week
Dr. Lawrence Hoffman writes: God appears directly to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – but never to Joseph. Joseph is like us, for we, too, get no obvious signs of God's presence from on high. But we do get God's voice, in the ongoing internal editorializing that persistently asks the question: "Is this the 'I' that I want myself to be?"
Dr. Richard Sarason writes: "A hundred million miracles are happening every day. And those who say they don't agree are those who do not hear or see". These words, from the pen of American Jewish lyricist and dramatist Oscar Hammerstein II (Flower Drum Song, 1959), nicely encapsulate not only an element of their author's philosophy of life but also (coincidentally) that of Jewish tradition. They neatly epitomize what the Hoda'ah benediction in the T'filah is all about.
Holiday Baking Gets a Makeover - Forward
Dr. Ruth Abusch-Magder writes: The term "instant classic" is an overused oxymoron that often smacks of marketing meant to pull on the heartstrings. But in the case of Marcy Goldman's "A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking," the term is truly apt. Reissued in time for Hanukkah in a 10th-anniversary edition, this book has earned a place of respect in the canon of Jewish cookbooks.
Spotlight on HUC-JIR's Programs and
Research Resources
Award for Dr. Mark Kligman's "Maqam and Liturgy: Ritual, Music, and Aesthetics of Syrian Jews in Brooklyn"
The Jordan Schnitzer Book Award Committee has designated Dr. Mark Kligman book, Maqam and Liturgy: Ritual, Music, and Aesthetics of Syrian Jews in Brooklyn, as a 2009 Notable Selection in the category of Jews and the Arts. In recognizing his book, the committee stated: "Through extensive ethnography in a culturally very distinctive community of Jewish-Americans, Kligman finds a Judeo-Arab cultural synthesis at the very heart of these Syrian immigrants' religious practice--the performance of liturgy--and as a vital component of their identity. Intersecting anthropology, ethnomusicology, community studies, and liturgy, the book clearly and cogently lays out a remarkable story that "transcends time and place" to offer an unexpected perspective on ritual as a space of expressive and communal choice. The rich accompanying CD allows readers to partake of the actual sounds of the service." Dr. Kligman's achievement will be recognized at the Jordan Schnitzer Book Award Reception, to be held Sunday, December 20, 2009 at the Association for Jewish Studies conference in Los Angeles.
Author Donates All Royalties from "The Making of a Reform Jewish Cantor" to HUC-JIR's School of Sacred Music
The ethnomusicologist Judah M. Cohen spent two years with cantorial students at HUC-JIR's School of Sacred Music and studied how a 21st century Jew with a good voice–and a great deal of training and dedication–can become a musical leader in the Jewish community. In his book, The Making of a Reform Jewish Cantor: Musical Authority, Cultural Investment, he examines the cantor's role in American Jewish religious life. Accompanying the book is a CD of recordings by the HUC-JIR faculty and students during services, classes, practica, and senior recitals.
HUC-JIR in the News
Behind the day school census - JTA
Dr. Steven M. Cohen comments on the The Avi Chai Foundation's recently released 2008-2009 census of Jewish day schools, a follow-up to the same survey it conducted in 1998 and 2003: "The large increase in Orthodox enrollment, coupled with stagnation in non-Orthodox enrollment, reflects several ongoing patterns. For years the Orthodox have been growing, through increased fertility and increased retention. Their numbers are significantly reduced only by way of massive aliyah. In contrast, the number of Reform and Conservative Jews has been shrinking with growth of the least engaged, most marginal, and most episodic Jews. The middle of the Jewish identity spectrum has been giving way to the two poles of most traditional and fervent and most post-modern and tentative." Cohen essentially is saying that it's no longer the Orthodox on one end and the Reform on the other. The Reform are the middle ground, and that they are committing huge dollars to day schools provides the evidence. It is the Jews with no affiliation that are the other pole, and perhaps the most important policy wise, as so many dollars are being spent on trying to figure out how to bring them back into the fold on their terms. In the end, Cohen said, these trends will lead to greater diversity and choice within the Jewish community.
Classical Reform revival pushes back against embrace of tradition - JTA
For more than a decade, the Reform movement has been moving toward greater observance of Jewish rituals like Shabbat and greater incorporation of Hebrew in worship services. Meanwhile, a small but increasingly vocal core of Classical Reform adherents is digging in its heels, saying the growing coziness with Jewish tradition is taking the movement away from its original universalist message and rationalist approach to faith, away from the way Reform Judaism was practiced until at least the 1940s. A year-and-a-half ago, a handful of Reform rabbis committed to the Classical Reform credo created the Society for Classical Reform Judaism to preserve and promote the values and traditions of American Reform Judaism. That includes its distinctive worship style -- services conducted mainly in English, accompanied by organ music and a choir.
Embrace the Dark, Then Light a Candle - Jewish Journal
Rabbi Anne Brener writes: Mystics speak of "theurgy," the possibility that our actions might have an influence on Holiness. There is even a radical theology that says that God is present only where we, humans, let God in. Our tradition tells us that our souls are God's lamp and that mutual need is what calls both sides of the human-God equation into being. If this is true, we must not underestimate the importance of lighting that first light of Chanukah. Coming out of darkness to light that first candle is a profound act of faith. From our place below, wrapped in nocturnal sensitivity, we mimic the first act of creation. We take responsibility for the work begun at the beginning of time, when God said, "Let there be light." With our own hands we strike the match to light the candles of Kislev to illuminate our journey as we focus human potential to summon the light of Holiness as we walk in God's ways.
Shabbat dinner to connect 2,000 -
Following the dinner, attendees traveled to Hebrew Union College, located on the corner of West Fourth Street and Broadway, for dessert and entertainment beginning at 9:30. CAS freshman Andrew Tavin, CAS sophomore Alex Edelman and comedian Myq Kaplan performed. Attendees also heard a lecture by Rabbi Dan Smokler.
New at the HUC-JIR Judaica Gallery in New York
Celebrate the Festival of Lights with the New York City skyline Hanukkah menorah created by renowned ceramic artist Barbara Krohn, $700 plus shipping and handling. To purchase, please contact: 212-824-2218,

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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, 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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