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Spotlight On
Haiti, One Year Later: Seeking Lessons in the Rubble

A group of prominent Jewish leaders and HUC-JIR alumni recently traveled with American Jewish World Service to earthquake-torn Haiti to learn about grassroots relief efforts and AJWS's disaster-to-development strategy. Marking the one year anniversary of the earthquake, panelists Ruth W. Messinger, President, American Jewish World Service; Rabbi Joy Levitt, Executive Director, The JCC in Manhattan; Rabbi Jackie Koch Ellenson (HUC-JIR/New York '83), Director, Women's Rabbinic Network; and Rabbi Rick Jacobs (HUC-JIR/New York '82), Senior Rabbi, Westchester Reform Temple, with moderator Jane Eisner, Editor, The Forward; join for an evening of discussion and reflection on Monday, January 24, 2011, at 7:00 pm at The JCC in Manhattan (334 Amsterdam at 76th St.). They will share firsthand accounts and the lessons they learned from their visit to destroyed Port-au-Prince and the surrounding camps. Tickets $10. To register and for further information, click here or call 646-505-5708. A portion of the proceeds will support AJWS.

News at HUC-JIR
Remembering Debbie Friedman, z"l

At the Los Angeles campus tefillah services held on January 20, 2011, both in observance of Tu B'Shvat and in honor of Debbie, explored the ways that Debbie planted seeds in the community and left them to grown and flourish. Students, faculty, and staff gathered to pray to melodies she taught, shared pieces of their own that she has helped create, and began the process of turning "mourning into dancing."

At the New York campus, students, faculty, and staff convened to watch the live-streaming video of the funeral service and shared reminiscences about the impact of Debbie Friedman on their lives.

All arms of our Reform Movement in Israel; HUC-JIR, WUPJ, IMPJ, and NFTY-Israel; will join together at Blaustein Hall at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem for an evening of prayer and song to honor the legacy of Debbie Friedman. The event, "Melaveh Malkah," will take place on January 29, 2011, at 6:30 pm. Click here for further information (English). Click here for further information (Hebrew).

The Cincinnati campus will pay tribute to Debbie Friedman through a special service focusing on her impact and contribution to worship. The service will not only feature the music and personal reflections of Debbie Freidman, but also liturgical music composed by women she inspired. Va'ad Beit Haknesset representative Meredith Kahan and Cantor Yvon F. Shore, Director of Liturgical Arts, will co-lead this service on March 25, 2011 in the Scheuer Chapel.

Update on the Sue and Jerry Teller Student Lounge at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati

With the magnificent renovation of the Sue and Jerry Teller Student Lounge and Dining Room, completed under the watchful guidance and design of HUC-JIR Board of Governor Patty Beck, the HUC-JIR/Cincinnati Dean's Office and Outreach Departments recognized the opportunity to enliven the walls with artwork and photography by HUC-JIR students and faculty. Nationally recognized artist Dr. David Aaron, Professor of Hebrew Bible and History of Interpretation at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati, presents his photographic scenes of Cincinnati architecture on display. Rabbi Jean Eglinton (HUC-JIR/Cincinnati '10) has exhibited eight color photographs of the Aron HaKodesh-Torah Ark, which she designed and created as her Ordination thesis/capstone project, inspired by the prayer "Yotzer Or," the morning creation prayer. The final grouping of photographs is the result of a competition for all Cincinnati students, staff, and faculty. The Cincinnati campus plans to hold annual contests on different photographic themes to make the Teller Lounge a central location for art, beauty, recognition, and appreciation.

Nachman Krochmal "More Nevukhe ha-Zeman" with Introduction and Academic Editing by Yehoyada Amir

Rabbi Nachman Krochmal (1785-1840), a philosopher historian and scholar of Jewish literature, was the leading figure of the Galician Haskalah (Jewish enlightenment). First known as an extra-ordinary oral teacher he moved in his last years to write his magnus opum More Nevokhe ha-Zeman (Guide of the Perplexed of the Time). Though he died before completing the book and it appeared only posthumous, edited by the great Berliner scholar Leopold Zunz, the Guide of the perplexed of the Time serves as a cornerstone for modern Jewish scholarship, philosophy and theology. Its twentieth century edition, worked by Simeon Rawidowicz (Berlin, 1924; Waltham Mass., 1961) provoked at the time a new wave of academic, cultural and religious interest in the book. For many years is the edition out of the reach for scholars, students, rabbis and readers.

The new edition, edited by Yehoyada Amir, Associate Professor of Jewish Thought at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem, provides the reader with the necessary means to negotiate with this ground-work of modern Jewish existence. Though based on Rawidowicz old edition, contains a up-to-dated comprehensive introduction, aiming to make the author and his work accessible to contemporary readers, as well as philosophic-linguistic lexicon for Krochmal's book and a list of references he makes to classic Jewish literature, foremost the Bible.

On January 5, 2011, an event was held in honor of the re-issue of Rabbi Nachman Krochmal's book. Click here for further information. Another public event will take place at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem on March 30, 2011.

Makeup Artist Trish McEvoy Donates New Clothing to the HUC-JIR Soup Kitchen

Renowned makeup artist Trish McEvoy, founder of Trish McEvoy Beauty, recently donated new clothing to the HUC-JIR Soup Kitchen at the New York Campus. Every Monday evening, the HUC-JIR student-run Soup Kitchen welcomes over 100 homeless and hungry guests for a nutritious meal. The Soup Kitchen Clothing Closet provides free clothing and toiletries, as well as a sewing service. On Monday, January 10, 2011, the student volunteers at the Soup Kitchen Clothing Closet received the donation from Trish McEvoy and distributed the clothing to Soup Kitchen guests.

HUC-JIR in the News
L.A. Reform Seminary Renamed for Homestead-born Rabbi - The Jewish Chronicle

HUC-JIR has announced that it will soon rename its Los Angeles campus in memory of Jack H. Skirball - rabbi, filmmaker, developer and philanthropist - whose drive led to the establishment of the campus. "It is truly fitting that this campus be named after Jack Skirball, whose vision and philanthropy guided the creation of this campus and played a central role in acquiring its location," HUC-JIR President Rabbi David Ellenson said. "The Jack H. Skirball Campus pays tribute to his devotion and commitment to Jewish life and American society as a whole, and we are honored that his name will add to the prominence of HUC-JIR in the Los Angeles community and the larger world." The decision comes as the Skirball Foundation is giving the seminary a $10 million gift to sustain the campus. According to those who knew him, Skirball pushed for the Los Angeles campus at a time when the establishment within the Reform movement seriously doubted the need for it.

Birthright Alumni Follow-Up Program Trims Its Ambitions - The Forward

Birthright Israel NEXT, which follows up with young Jews after they return from the free trip to Israel offered by Birthright, is rewiring itself after a major shakeup of its top leadership. The multimillion-dollar nonprofit, founded three years ago to deepen the involvement of Birthright alumni in the Jewish community, is considering reducing and redirecting its programming as debate continues over whether its purpose is even worthwhile. Steven M. Cohen, Professor of Jewish Social Policy at HUC-JIR, said that programs like NEXT are key to the long-term impact of Birthright. "The evidence indicates a single trip to Israel is a gateway to further involvement, and if there isn't a repeat trip to Israel or other Jewish activities that follow, then we don't see much long-range impact," said Cohen.

Rabbi Lawrence Kushner's Latest Book Looks at Religion from Inside Out - JWeekly

Rabbi Lawrence Kushner (HUC-JIR/Cincinnati '69) wrote down his reflections on congregational life, both the sacred and mundane and published those reflections as a collection of stories and essays in "I'm God, You're Not: Observations on Organized Religion & Other Disguises of the Ego." Taking a recent break from his scholarly and teaching duties at Emanu-El, he was eager to talk about the book, starting with the title - which recalls the 1970s "Saturday Night Live" catchphrase "I'm Chevy Chase and you're not." Beyond that, the title implies that Kushner believes personal ego can mess up a good thing when it comes to spiritual fulfillment. "The goal of all spiritual life," he says, "is to get your ego out of the way. Outwit the sucker, dissolve it; shoot it; kill it." In various chapters of the book, Kushner covers topics such as Jewish religious practice, mysticism and holiness. He also recounts his day-to-day experience as spiritual leader of Congregation Beth El in Sudbury, MA.

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

Rabbi Reuven Firestone, Professor of Medieval Judaism and Islam at HUC-JIR/Los Angeles, received the 2010 JSRI Prize awarded by the Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies for "research in the development of the field" of the study of religions and religious ideologies. The JSRI is a publication housed at Universitatea Babes-Bolyai, Cluj, Romania. Click here for further information.

Opening Reception for Torahluminations: The Art of Peter Asher Pitzele: January 20 at the HUC-JIR/New York Museum

Torahluminations: The Art of Peter Asher Pitzele signals a connection between paper collage and storytelling with the ancient practice of illuminating Scripture. Peter Asher Pitzele explores the dimensional images of the biblical narrative with an artist's license. He uses the art as armatures, points of departure, private and public referents for his work. The opening reception will take place at HUC-JIR/New York on Thursday, January 20 from 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm. RSVP and government issued photo ID required: or (212) 824-2293.

Memorial Service for Debbie Friedman, z"l: January 27 at Central Synagogue in New York

Join together to celebrate the life and music of Debbie Friedman, z"l, on Thursday, January 27 at 7:30 pm at Central Synagogue (652 Lexington Ave. at 55th Street, Manhattan). Pay tribute to Debbie's life and legacy. Please email your stories and tributes to

School of Sacred Music 3rd Annual Composers' Showcase: February 1 at HUC-JIR/New York

Enjoy the creativity of the next generation of composers and songwriters for the Reform movement at the School of Sacred Music 3rd Annual HUC-JIR Composers' Showcase on Tuesday, February 1, 2010 from 10:45 am to 12:00 pm at HUC-JIR/New York. Featuring original works by students and faculty, congregational and Jewish concert pieces for the synagogue and stage will be presented. Cantor Bruce Ruben, Director of the School of Sacred Music, writes, "It is one of my fondest dreams that cantors play a role in the creation of the next generation's liturgical music. This dream is realized through this wonderful yearly program: the HUC-JIR Composers' Showcase. You will hear works that are 'hot off the press' by our students and faculty, in most cases performed by the composers themselves." Government issued photo ID required for entry. RSVP to Mary Brunner at or 212-824-2204.

The Naming and Dedication of the Jack H. Skirball Campus: February 6 at HUC-JIR/Los Angeles

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. Jack Skirball cared for and contributed generously to Jewish life and to American society as a whole. His memory is a blessing.

The 10th Yarzeit Memorial Gathering for Professor Michael Klein, z"l: February 7 at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem

The 10th Yarzeit Memorial Gathering for Professor Michael Klein, z"l, will take place on Monday, February 7, 2011 at 7:00 pm at the Murstein Synagogue at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem. The evening will include guest speaker Professor Stefan Reif of Cambridge University, who will discuss "Remembrance of Research, Relationship, and Respect." Professor Reif was both colleague and dear friend of Michael Klein. Professor Eli Scleiffer will offer words and music. Musical interludes will be led by his son Mattan Klein, to be joined by Shoshi Klein.

New at the HUC-JIR Judaica Gallery

Preeminent Judaica glass artist Steve Resnick's pair of wedding flutes display etchings of olive leaves with overlapping levels of clear and frosted glass. The Hebrew text on one flute states, "I am my beloved," and "My beloved is mine" on the other.

$210, plus shipping and handling.

To purchase, please contact: 212-824-2218,

Please click here for a larger image.

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