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January 06, 2011
Spotlight On
News at HUC-JIR
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Faculty News
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New at the HUC-JIR Judaica Gallery
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HUCNews is a weekly e-newsletter produced by HUC-JIR's National Public Affairs Office.
Spotlight On
The Naming and Dedication of the Jack H. Skirball Campus

The President of HUC-JIR invites you to the naming of our Los Angeles campus in tribute to and in loving memory of Jack H. Skirball on Sunday, February 6, 2011 at 1 p.m. Please RSVP: 213-765-2106 or

Born in Homestead, PA, Jack Skirball (1896-1985) attended the University of Cincinnati and Western Reserve College in Cleveland and then studied for the rabbinate at Hebrew Union College. After his ordination in 1921, he did graduate work in philosophy and sociology at the University of Chicago, then served as an assistant rabbi in Cleveland for two years and rabbi of the Washington Avenue Temple in Evansville, Indiana, for seven years. As a film producer, real estate developer, and philanthropist, Jack Skirball remained active in the Reform Movement, assisting the establishment of new congregations, serving as regional president for the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (now the Union for Reform Judaism) and giving financial support to HUC-JIR. He spearheaded the development of HUC-JIR's Los Angeles campus and established the Skirball Museum at HUC-JIR/Los Angeles, the Skirball Museum at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati, and the Skirball Museum and Center for Biblical and Archaeological Research at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem. The Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles was named in Jack H. Skirball's honor, in recognition for his invaluable contributions at its inception and in tribute to his lifelong devotion to Jewish education and culture. Jack Skirball cared for and contributed generously to Jewish life and to American society as a whole. His memory is a blessing.

News at HUC-JIR
Webcast of Rabbi David Ellenson in Panel Discussion on "The Ground Zero Mosque: to Build or Not to Build" at CUNY/Baruch College School of Public Affairs

Rabbi David Ellenson participated in a panel discussion on "The Ground Zero Mosque: To Build or Not to Build," as part of the Lillie & Nathan Ackerman Lecture Series in Equality and Justice in America at the City University of New York's Baruch College School of Public Affairs on Tuesday, November 9, 2010. The program explored, from multiple perspectives, the various symbolic, cultural, religious, and policy issues that are raised by the proposed construction. The Ackerman Lecture Series was established by Rosalyn and Irwin Engelman, Chairman of the Board of Governors of HUC-JIR, in memory of the parents of Rosalyn Engelman, whose artwork is currently exhibited at the HUC-JIR Museum. Click here to view the webcast of the panel discussion.

Israeli Reform Women Rabbis Respond to Letter to Keep Jewish Women Away From Arab Men

Israeli Reform women rabbis respond to letter by wives of rabbis calling to keep Jewish women away from Arab men. The Israeli Reform women rabbis say that they are against intermarriage, but this is to be accomplished by education strengthening Jewish identity, not through incitement. Furthermore, they argue that interaction between various groups within Israeli society, through both social and professional relations, is essential for a strong and healthy democracy. Click here to read the response letter by the Israeli Reform women rabbis (in Hebrew). Click here to read an op-ed on the topic by Rabbi Dr. Dalia Marx, Assistant Professor of Liturgy and Midrash at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem (in Hebrew).

Publication of Professor Yehoyada Amir's Rabbi Nachman Krochmal's "Today's Guide for the Perplexed"

An evening in honor of the re-issue of Professor Yehoyada Amir's (HUC-JIR/Jerusalem) Rabbi Nachman Krochmal's Today's Guide for the Perplexed (Moreh Nevuchim Hazman) (Carmel Publication) took place on January 5, 2011. During the program, with Chairman Professor Ron Margolin, Professor Eli Yasif presented "The Concept of Legend in Krochmal's 'Moreh Nevuchim Hazman.'" Dr. Michael Mach presented "Renewed Interest in the Hellenistic Judaism in the 19th-Century." Professor Yishai Rosen Zvi presented, "The Sources of Oral Torah according to Krochmal." Professor Yehoyada Amir responded to the presentations.

Women of Reform Judaism Launches New Website

Check out the Women of Reform Judaism's new website at

HUC-JIR in the News
Calling Steven Cohen. No, Not That One - The New York Times

Steven Cohen is the new secretary to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, among his most powerful aides. So please don't confuse him with Steve Cohen, the Memphis congressman, or Steven A. Cohen the billionaire hedge fund manager. Or the two Steve Cohens who are experts on Israel often quoted in The New York Times and other newspapers - Steven M. Cohen at Hebrew Union College in New York and Stephen P. Cohen at the Institute for Middle East Peace and Development, also in New York.

Learning from Miriam and Pharaoh's Daughter - Common Ground News

Rabbi Naamah Kelman, Dean of HUC-JIR/Jerusalem, writes, "There are two main challenges to the field of religious peacemaking: a widespread skepticism towards the potentially positive influence of religion, and the muting of female influence within religious and political affairs. In this region [Cairo], religious patriarchy continues to reign as women suffer secondary status in all matters of personal status (marriage, divorce, etc.). Those women wishing to promote equality and justice, especially through religious tradition, face a steep path of resistance and even outright repression. Nevertheless, religious feminism has been both an evolutionary and revolutionary process around the world. I deeply believe the same can be true for advancing co-existence and peace. The very same forces that are slowly but surely liberating women are the very same forces that can move us toward a just solution in this region."

Executive Salaries: How Much Is Too Much? - The Jewish Journal

Steven Windmueller, Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk Chair in Jewish Communal Service at HUC-JIR, says the numbers in the Forward Jewish executive salaries survey - going through 2009 - reflect the vestiges of a decade of sustained growth in the nonprofit world before the recession hit in 2008. "In those sort of times in which campaigns and contributions were in a growth mode, these kinds of salaries were in vogue in terms of Jewish institutions and in terms of many higher education, charitable and philanthropic causes nationally," Windmueller said. "But I think it is very striking that in a time in which there is a great deal of downsizing and reconsideration of priorities by donors and charities, these numbers seem almost out of kilter with these new realities." Windmueller says he would be shocked if the 2010 numbers don't show some readjustment.

Israel's Top Reform Rabbi: Israeli Society Falling into Deep Pit of Racism - Haaretz

The head of Israel's Reform Judaism movement on Tuesday harshly criticized a letter by 30 rabbis' wives calling on Jewish girls not to date Arabs, work with them or perform national service in the same places where they work. "Israeli society is falling into a deep, dark pit of racism and xenophobia," said Rabbi Gilad Kariv (HUC-JIR/Jerusalem '03), who two weeks ago also vocally condemned a move by a number of leading rabbis who signed on a ruling to forbid the rental of homes to Arabs. The rabbis' wives' statement was made in a letter organized by Lehava, an organization aimed at what it calls "saving the daughters of Israel" from assimilation. The group runs a shelter for Jewish women who have left their Arab partners and is calling for a boycott of a supermarket in Gush Etzion that employs Arab men and Jewish women.

Not So Comfortable - The Jewish Chronicle

The Jewish Welfare Board's Jewish Chaplains Council advised the Pentagon earlier this year that the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" would have no impact on Jewish chaplains in either their ministry or their counseling duties. The JWB Jewish Chaplains Council serves as the endorsing body for Jewish military chaplains who serve in the armed forces and Veterans' Affairs chaplaincy services. The organization is comprised of rabbis from the Rabbinical Assembly (Conservative), the Rabbinical Council of America (Orthodox), and the Central Conference of American Rabbis (Reform), plus four active duty Jewish chaplains representing the Chaplains Advisory Group. Even though the rabbis from each denomination have differing views of homosexuality, they were able to agree that the repeal of the law would not affect their abilities to serve as military chaplains, said Rabbi Harold Robinson (HUC-JIR/Cincinnati '74), a Navy rear admiral and director of the Jewish Chaplains Council. "At our meeting a year ago, we came up with a formal position for the Pentagon," said Robinson. "Each [branch of Judaism] sees the matter of homosexuality differently. But the role of our chaplains is pretty much unaffected by that. On a daily basis, we deal with people who do all sorts of things we might be uncomfortable with, whether it's not keeping kosher, or not keeping Shabbat or infidelity. We're especially used to dealing with people who aren't Jewish, and follow their own moral law. We meet everyone in terms of their own personal needs."

Because Pluralism Is Our Fundamentalism - New York Magazine

In New York Magazine's recent "Reasons to Love New York 2010", the Number 1 reason stated, "Because Pluralism Is Our Fundamentalism."

The Anti-Defamation League called the plan to build a Muslim community and prayer center two blocks from ground zero "counterproductive to the healing process." While some in the religious world equivocated, the leaders pictured (from left, Rabbi Peter J. Rubinstein, Central Synagogue; Rabbi Eric Yoffie, Union for Reform Judaism; Pastor Amandus J. Derr, St. Peter's Lutheran Church; Father Mark Arey, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese; Bishop Mark S. Sisk, the Episcopal Diocese of New York; Rabbi Burton L. Visotzky, the Jewish Theological Seminary) unambiguously defended the project. Some supported the mayor at his August 3 press conference denouncing opposition to the mosque. Others joined in an interfaith statement made in Washington, D.C., in September. They all spoke from their pulpits. "All of a sudden it was respectable for people to be attacking Muslims as a part of the political debate leading up to an election," says Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism. "To me, that was an extraordinary change."

Mind-Bending Textiles - Jewish Woman International

For centuries the fabrication of textiles, with the exception of Renaissance tapestries, was considered a domestic craft-"women's work" lacking in the stature of the fine arts. This perception has shifted dramatically, thanks in large part to Judy Chicago and other female artists. A Stitch in Jewish Time: Provocative Textiles, on view until June 30, 2011 at the HUC-JIR Museum in Manhattan, explores how artists have used their skill and creativity to expand the scope of contemporary textiles. The pieces in the show are both compelling and poignant, from The Birth Project, Chicago's epic depiction of the act of birth and human creation, to Leslie Golumb and Louise Silk's series of text-laden quilts that suggest parallels between slavery in America and the plight of the Jews fleeing Egypt, to Andi Aronovitz's restrictive garment created from hundreds of sewn together fragments of ketubot (marriage contracts) to call attention to the plight of agunot.

Faculty News
HUC-JIR is proud of our accomplished faculty:

Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi, Bible Faculty at HUC-JIR/Los Angeles, and Dr. Andrea L. Weiss, Bible Faculty at HUC-JIR/New York, gave a joint paper on "The Politics and Practices of Commentary Writing" at the recent Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting (Atlanta, November 18-21, 2010). The paper was presented by Dr. Weiss.
Cantor Tamar Heather Havilio of HUC-JIR/Jerusalem presented her project called "The Praying Body: The Pedagogy of the Prayer leader and Pray-er (Re)Considered" at an International conference entitled Richard Schechner and Performance Studies: an International Conference of Scholars and Artists honoring Richard Schechner on his 76th birthday. The conference took place December 19th through the 23rd at Haifa University in Israel. The work takes performance theories and the texts of Heschel, Buber, and their quest to find presence with the performance of the ritual prayer leader. It looks at how praying has become more about entertainment and less about efficacy and how this effects the selling of prayer and the prayer leader. Tamar utilizes the work of Richard Schechner in three ways: to re-teach how to pray like Hannah (inner prayer gaze) within community, the body "in" the sabbath, or the sabbath from within, in his slow-motion body workshop and emotional intelligence from the enteric nervous system or "the brain in the belly" with his study of the rasa boxes.

HUC on the Road in Miami: January 12 at Temple Beth Am

Join us in Miami at Temple Beth Am, The Richard and Janet Yulman Campus, for a day of learning on Wednesday, January 12, 2011. Rabbi Michael Marmur, Ph.D., Vice President of Academic Affairs, will lead a special session for HUC-JIR alumni and Jewish professionals on "Two Kinds of Vision, Five Kinds of Fear" from 9:30 am to 11:00 am. Cantor Bruce L. Ruben, Ph.D., Director of the School of Sacred Music, will present "Not Your Parent's Cantor: The Evolving Role of the Reform Cantorate," a presentation, discussion, and lunch for the Miami Jewish community, from 11:30 am to 3:00 pm. At the same time, Rabbi Marmur will lead a special professional development session for Jewish Teen Initiative (JTI) Staff. Free and open to the public. Click here to RSVP.

Third Annual South Florida Cantorial Concert: January 15 at Temple Israel of Greater Miami

Twenty-four cantors and soloists will perform a diverse concert of Jewish song in the Third Annual South Florida Cantorial Concert, to be held on Saturday, January 15, 2011, at 8:00 pm. The concert will be held in the Bertha Abess Sanctuary at Temple Israel of Greater Miami, located in Miami's Performing Arts district. Click here for further information.

Inaugurating Classical Concerts on Clifton with Constella Trio: January 16 at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati

HUC-JIR/Cincinnati will inaugurate "Classical Concerts on Clifton" with the Constella Trio on Sunday, January 16, 2011 at 4:30 pm at the Schueur Chapel. The Constella Trio, with Tatiana Berman, Ilya Finkelshteyn, and Yael Senamaud, will begin with a celebration of the life and work of Bonia Shur, followed by a presentation of Bonia Shur's Kol Nidre; Ludwig von Beethoven's String Trio in D Major, Opus 9, No. 2; Franz Schubert's Unfinished Trio in B Flat Major, D.471; Gideon Klein's Trio (Terezin 1944); and Erno Dohnanyi's Serenade Opus 10. A reception will follow in the Teller Lounge. Free and open to the public.

Photo of the Week

A new display at the Frances-Henry Library, "For Every Thing There Is a Season: Counting Time in Jewish Traditions," reflects some of the Library's holdings in the areas of Jewish chronology and Jewish methods of counting. The books in the exhibit span from the 17th to 21st century and describe and illustrate calendars, methods of calculating seasons and times of prayer, and calculations of historical periods and events since the creation of the world.

Click here to view a larger image.

New at the HUC-JIR Judaica Gallery

Missouri-based artist Genevieve Flynn works in precious metals to design elegant hollowware and jewelry. Jacob's Ladder, one-of-a-kind sterling-silver candlesticks, will be a treasure to pass on to family members. The ladder is hand forged to recreate the ladder in Jacob's dream. The bases are hand raised and highly polished. The candle sleeves hold a taper or standard pillar candle.

$1,450, plus shipping and handling. To purchase, please contact: 212-824-2218,

Please click here for a larger image.

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