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January 27, 2011
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HUCNews is a weekly e-newsletter produced by HUC-JIR's National Public Affairs Office.
Spotlight On
American Jewish Archives to Host Travels in American Jewish History

The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives will host 'Travels in American Jewish History-A Journey of Jewish Identity & Discovery to Historic Savannah, Georgia" from June 1-5, 2011. This unique program will offer participants the opportunity to travel to Savannah to examine its particular Jewish heritage while studying with the foremost scholars of American Jewish history. The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, founded in 1947 by its namesake at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati, is committed to preserving a documentary of the religious, organizational, economic, cultural, personal, social, and family life of American Jewry. The Marcus Center contains over 12,000 linear feet of archives, manuscripts, nearprint materials, photographs, audio and videotapes, microfilm, and genealogical materials.

News at HUC-JIR
Rabbinical Student Adam Scheldt Receives 2011 PresenTense Fellowship

Adam Scheldt, a Mandel Fellow and rabbinical student receiving Rabbinic Ordination in 2013, is a PresenTense New York City 2011 Fellow. In January, PresenTense fellows embarked upon a five-month Fellowship joining similar programs underway in Boston, Philadelphia, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv. The 2011 PresenTense NYC Fellows are visionaries with bold ideas to re-shape the landscape of the Jewish community in the 21st Century. They have innovative ideas combined with a passion for their cause and a track record of leadership. Fellows will be equipped with the tools and skills they need to mobilize the community behind their ventures - creating a sustainable eco-system of social change and culture of action in New York.

"TV vs. Torah: Why 'True Blood' is Winning" with Professor Diane Winston

Professor Diane Winston, Knight Chair of Media and Religion at the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, gave a special talk to the students and faculty at HUC-JIR/Los Angeles on January 19, 2011. Her presentation, entitled "TV vs. Torah: Why 'True Blood' is Winning," chronicled the phenomenon of an increasingly personalized media filling a role in the United States that has been traditionally played by religious community affiliation.

HUC-JIR in the News
Reform Movement's LA Campus Gets Skirball Name - The Jewish Journal

In April 2009, the Los Angeles campus of HUC-JIR looked like it might shut down. The leading school for training Reform rabbis, cantors, Jewish educators and others had been badly hurt by the financial crisis, and its leaders were entertaining the possibility of closing two of its four campuses in order to eliminate a $3 million budget shortfall. Today, thanks to a rapid outpouring of community support and concern, all four HUC-JIR campuses remain in full operation, and on Feb. 6, the Los Angeles branch will be named to honor the memory of Jack H. Skirball. The decision follows a $10 million gift from the Skirball Foundation to HUC-JIR's endowment, but the naming is intended to recognize Skirball's role in building up the Reform movement's West Coast home over the course of his life - and, indeed, even decades after his death in 1985. HUC-JIR President Rabbi David Ellenson said that while the $10 million gift from the Skirball Foundation "triggered" the decision to name the campus in Skirball's memory, "he was the prime benefactor of the Los Angeles campus," Ellenson said. "With this additional donation that the Skirball Foundation made - on top of many other donations made by the Skirball Foundation over the years - it was felt that it was appropriate to recognize the role that Jack Skirball played in the creation of the Los Angeles campus."

Twenty Reform Congregations Receive URJ Grant for Innovative Programs to Engage Members - Union for Reform Judaism

Out of nearly 170 applicants, 20 Reform congregations in North America were selected to receive a URJ Incubator Grant of up to $5,000 from the Union for Reform Judaism to implement new programs to further engage current members and attract new members. "The decision to choose 20 out of 170 was difficult, but there were some that really grabbed our attention and made us really curious to see where they could take these creative initiatives," said URJ Vice President Daniel Freelander.

Student Union Appeals to High Court Against Yeshiva Student Stipends - Haaretz

The National Student Union and the Centre of Jewish Pluralism appealed on Sunday to the High Court against the cabinet decision to continue the payment of stipends to married yeshiva students. The proposal to cut stipends to yeshiva students followed a ruling by the High Court of Justice that the practice violates the principle of equality, since it does not apply to university students. Rabbi Gilad Kariv (HUC-JIR/Jerusalem '03), Director General of the Reform Movement which took part in the petition, said in response that "the government decision to continue paying stipends to Yeshiva students is conscientious, social, governmental and economic bankruptcy. The Israeli government and Ultra-Orthodox politicians are trapping thousands of families in poverty, while causing an actual blow to Israel's economic and social strength. We hope that the High Court will draw a red line before the continuation of discrimination and will signal to the government and the members of the Ultra-Orthodox parties that this celebration at the public's expense is over."

A Young Life Passes, and a Ritual of Birth Begins - New York Times

Dr. Mark S. Litwin, a mohel certified by the Berit Mila Program of Reform Judaism and Professor of Urology and Public Health at UCLA, writes, "17 years ago, I became a certified mohel, hoping to marry my surgical skills and my knack for calming nerves with the hopeful optimism of growing families. A bris provides an intimate and reinvigorating view of life's beginning." The Berit Mila Program of Reform Judaism seeks to make the age old practice of berit mila available to Jewish families as a meaningful and relevant Jewish life-cycle ritual. Rabbi Lewis M. Barth, Professor Emeritus of Midrash and Related Literature at HUC-JIR, served as Director of the Berit Mila Program when Dr. Litwin was a participant, and Rabbi Julie Pelc Adler currently serves as Director. For further information, visit

Laying In-Roads: Engaging Jews in their 20s and 30s Through Lay Leadership - Berman Jewish Policy Archive

Dena Wachtel Stein (HUC-JIR/New York '10), a student in the School of Jewish Nonprofit Management at HUC-JIR/Los Angeles, writes, "As the Jewish community evolves it is imperative that organizations keep up with the dynamic rate of change if they want to survive. Lay leadership is one area where this change is sorely needed. Agencies must create a quality succession plan and actively seek engagement of young professionals."

American Jews' Story Told in a New Home - Wall Street Journal

Highlighted at the National Museum of American Jewish History is the so-called Trefa Banquet, a controversial 1883 celebration, in Cincinnati, of Hebrew Union College's first graduating class of rabbis that featured such nonkosher delicacies as soft-shell crabs, shrimp salad, oysters and frog's legs. A silver oyster fork and a menu are part of the display. Both architecture and exhibition mirror the tension in the museum's mission, between full-throated celebration and careful delineation of the challenges American Jews have faced-both to their identity as Jews and their citizenship in the U.S.

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

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

"Melaveh Malkah" Evening of Prayer and Song: January 29 at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem

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).

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. 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.

"Spinoza, Mendelssohn, and the Parameters of Modern Judaism" with Rabbi David Ellenson: February 15 in Manhattan

The Skirball Center for Adult Jewish Learning at Temple Emanu-El celebrates its winter semester with the inaugural Charles Grossman Lecture in Jewish Intellectual History, featuring guest speaker Rabbi David Ellenson, President of HUC-JIR. Dr. Ellenson will speak on "Spinoza, Mendelssohn, and the Parameters of Modern Judaism." The lecture will take place on Tuesday, February 15, 2011 at 6:30 pm at Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan (One East 65th Street). Attendance is free and open to the public.

Cincinnati Campus Tribute to Debbie Friedman, z"l: March 25 at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati

The Cincinnati campus will pay tribute to Debbie Friedman, z"l, 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.

Photo of the Week

The HUC-JIR/New York campus during yet another snowstorm on January 26, 2011

Click here to view a larger image.

New at the HUC-JIR Judaica Gallery

Fine art photographer and fiber artist Beth Shepherd Peters has created a line of beautiful and meaningful tallitot. Using a unique method, photographs are printed on one side of a pure silk tallit, with the other side being a solid color. The tzit-tzit are wool and hand tied. Each tallit is 17" x 72".

Featured in the picture from left to right:
Sunset in Israel: This tallit is created from a photograph of a sunset in Tel Aviv. The atarah has a Hebrew prayer printed within a stitched border: May the One who causes peace to reign in the high heavens cause peace to reign amoung us, all Israel, and all the world.

White Cosmos: The flowers on this tallit are Cosmos, grown in Beth Shepherd Peter's garden, blooming in the autumn. The soft drape makes it comfortable to wrap yourself in for prayer. The atarah is stitched with a simple border.

Maple Leaves: The leaves on this tallit are from a Japanese Maple Tree in autumn. The atarah has a Hebrew prayer printed within a stitched border: How good it is, and how pleasant, when we dwell together in unity.

Pink Cosmos: The flowers on this tallit are Cosmos, grown in Beth Shepherd Peter's garden, blooming in autumn. The atarah has a Hebrew prayer printed within a stitched border: Grant us peace, Your most precious gift, O Eternal Source of peace, and give us the will to proclaim its message to all of the peoples of the earth.

Each tallit is $360 plus shipping and handling. To purchase, please contact: 212-824-2218,

Please click here for a larger image.

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