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April 28, 2011
Spotlight On
News at HUC-JIR
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Faculty News
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HUC-JIR News is a weekly e-newsletter produced by HUC-JIR's National Public Affairs Office.
Spotlight On
The Zionism of Rabbi Richard Jacobs - A Model for Our Times - The Jewish Journal

Rabbi David Ellenson, President, HUC-JIR; Rabbi Naamah Kelman, Dean, HUC-JIR/Jerusalem; and Rabbi Michael Marmur, Vice President for Academic Affairs, HUC-JIR, write, "In the current issue of The Jewish Journal, there is an advertisement taken out by 'Reform Jews who want the Reform Movement to stand with Israel.' This advertisement asserts that Rabbi Richard Jacobs (HUC-JIR/New York '82), the President-designate of the Union for Reform Judaism, 'does not represent the pro-Israel policies cherished by Reform Jews.' We vehemently disagree with this distorted caricature of Rabbi Jacobs and his attitudes toward Israel. The most recent attack upon Rabbi Jacobs indicates that we are too often separated from one another - by culture, predilection, politics, ideology and more. Our fears may unite us (hence our constant appeal to the specter of anti-Semitism and Israel's precarious security situation to bolster our flagging sense of cohesion), but often it appears we are divided by our hopes and our dreams. Lovers of Israel with a range of political commitments should welcome with enthusiasm that the mantle of leadership of the Reform Movement will go to a man who cares deeply about Jewish learning, Jewish creativity and Jewish unity. They should decry tawdry attempts to sully the integrity of a good man. Rabbi Jacobs is a model of constructive engagement. At a time of rampant confusion and galloping alienation, the tactics of witch-hunting and demagoguery are not what we need. The leadership epitomized by Rabbi Richard Jacobs is."

News at HUC-JIR
HUC-JIR's Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles Graduation and Ordination Ceremonies

Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion's Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles will hold Ordination Ceremonies on Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 10 am at Wilshire Boulevard Temple (3663 Wilshire Boulevard) and Graduation Ceremonies on Monday, May 16, 2011, at 3 pm on campus (3077 University Avenue). Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D., President, HUC-JIR, will present honorary degrees to leading academic, communal, and civic leaders; award earned degrees to HUC-JIR's graduates; and ordain the Rabbinical Class of 2011. Rabbi Ellenson will speak at Ordination and Dr. C.L. Max Nikias, President, University of Southern California, will speak at Graduation.

President Obama Appoints Dr. Gary P. Zola to Key Administration Post

Rabbi Gary Zola, Ph.D., Executive Director of The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives and Professor of the American Jewish Experience, was appointed to a key Administration post as Member, Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad, by President Barack Obama. The Commission-an independent agency of the Government of the United States of America-is directed by law to fulfill two primary functions: To identify and report on cemeteries, monuments, and historic buildings in Eastern and Central Europe that are associated with the heritage of U.S. citizens, particularly endangered properties, and to obtain, in cooperation with the Department of State, assurances from the governments of the region that the properties will be protected and preserved. "I am flattered and honored by the President's decision to appoint me to the Commission," said Zola. "And I earnestly believe that this development is yet another indication of the significant historical resources that the American Jewish Archives and the Hebrew Union College proffer to the nation."

HUC-JIR Creates New Certificate Program for Educators Working with Adolescents and Emerging Adults

With the generous support of the Jim Joseph Foundation, HUC-JIR's Schools of Education have developed the new Certificate Program in Jewish Education for Adolescents and Emerging Adults. The certificate program specifically aims to enhance the skills, knowledge and personal capacities of Jewish educators who already serve those populations. Coursework will increase their learning and specialized knowledge regarding adolescent development, experiential learning, new media and service learning and social justice leadership. As program coordinator, Rabbi Melissa Zalkin Stollman is often asked, "Will I have to leave my job to participate in this program?" The answer is definitively, "No!" The course of study lasts just one year. During this time a small cohort of students will learn together via online courses, two 3-day weekend intensives and one 10-day summer institute. This program, ideal for a youth director, assistant camp director or unit head, Hillel program director or NFTY advisor, offers the flexibility to help strengthen skills and grow professionally without having to attend a residential program.

"Issues of Aging: 60-75" - A Conference on Issues that Confront Social Service Agencies and Religious Communities

On Thursday, May 12, 2011, HUC-JIR will hold "Issues of Aging: 60-75." This conference will cover important issues that confront social service agencies and religious communities related to early aging. This conference looks at key questions such as how we can best prepare ourselves, our institutions, and our communities for a growing population of "young old" individuals; the impact that factors such as increased life expectancy, the current economic situation, new kinship patterns, and mental and physical health have on this particular cohort and institutions that might offer them support. The day will be composed of presentations, panel discussions, and workshops led by individuals working in social work and religious communities. This conference aims to expand participants' knowledge and skills in order to improve service delivery. The conference will take place from 8:30 am - 4:30 pm at HUC-JIR/New York (One West Fourth Street), and is presented with the NYU School of Social Work and others. Please contact conference coordinator Stephanie Kaplan (; (212) 998-5897) with questions.

Rabbi B. Elka Abrahamson (HUC-JIR/NY '85) to Serve as President of The Wexner Foundation

Rabbi B. Elka Abrahamson (HUC-JIR/New York '85), who currently serves as Foundation Vice President, Leadership Programs, at The Wexner Foundation will become its next President on October 1, 2011. Appointing Abrahamson as the next president of the organization was, according to Leslie and Abigail Wexner, Chairmen of The Wexner Foundation, "a straightforward and natural decision, made with excitement for the future direction of the Foundation. She combines many strong leadership gifts. Steeped in Jewish learning and grounded in Jewish values, she is creative, a strategic thinker, an enthusiastic and wise teacher and gifted leader. As our new partner, she will participate in the authoring of the next impressive chapter in the life of the Foundation." Rabbi Abrahamson was recently named as one of the 50 most influential rabbis in North America by Newsweek Magazine.

HUC-JIR in the News
Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D., Ranked in 50 Most Influential Rabbis - The Daily Beast and Newsweek

Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D., President, HUC-JIR, was ranked #9 in The Daily Beast and Newsweek's list of the top leaders of America's Jewish clergy. The roster offers an important snapshot of those at the forefront of American Jewish leadership-rabbis who are reimagining ritual, reinventing institutions, mobilizing social activism, and energizing scholarship. The rabbis on this list personify the most important roles in Jewish leaders-as selfless listeners, teachers, connectors, and galvanizers, not self-promoting grandstanders or media strategizers.

My "Calling" Came from Outside My Religious Community - What's Your Calling?

Joshua Stanton, a rabbinical student at HUC-JIR/New York, was recently featured the "What's Your Calling" campaign, which is an accompaniment to the PBS mini-series, "The Calling." He writes, "Everyone tells me that you can find "your calling" - the guiding force and vocation that will define your life - when you sit quietly and really figure out what makes you passionate about life each and every day. But sitting quietly has never been my forte, and introspection is still a work-in-progress for me. In fact, I needed two mentors to quite literally "call" me before I figured out what my calling had been all along. While neither of my mentors, Paul Sorrentino, Director of Religious Life at Amherst College, and Hedy Peyser, an experienced social worker and Director of Volunteers at the Hebrew Home of Greater Washington, pressed me to become a rabbi, I found their voices ringing in my ears. 'You really like working with Hillel...;' 'You have the mind of a rabbi;' 'You really like working with Hillel...;' 'You have the mind of a rabbi.' I started thinking about their words during long stretches each day and even started dreaming at night about what it might like to be a rabbi. It was becoming clear that I was called to become a rabbi."

Prayers for 9-11 - HUC-JIR's Blog of Continuing Jewish Learning

Liturgy is an essential element for clergy planning memorial tributes, but in looking ahead towards the 10th anniversary of 9-11, several rabbis noted that the complexity and immediacy of the events might not be addressed by the traditional Jewish liturgy. Alden Solovy, a member of Temple Beth Emet in Evanston IL, has been blogging meditations and tefillot with contemporary themes and traditional resonances on his blog, To Bend Light. He took up the challenge of creating liturgy for our communal needs at this time and writes in this second in a series on 9-11 of the challenges and possibilities that emerge.

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

Dr. Michael Chernick, Deutsch Professor of Jewish Jurisprudence and Social Justice, spoke at Temple Beth El in Huntington, NY, on March 28 on "The Beginnings of the Rabbinic Seder: Study vs. Action and the Uses of Historical Memory." He recently spoke on "The Halakhic Parameters of Religious Pluralism in Maimonides' Mishnah Torah and his Responsum on Relations with The Karaites." The talk was given at Congregation Rinat Yisrael in Teaneck, NJ, on April 8.
Rabbi Reuven Firestone, Ph.D., Professor of Medieval Jewish Studies, will participate in an international symposium, "Legal Scholar - Preacher - Spiritual Adviser: Changing Roles of Rabbis, Pastors, and Priests" in Regensburg, Germany on September 19-22, 2011. Click here for further information. Rabbi Firestone will be presenting a keynote presentation at an upcoming conference at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, one of the world's foremost centers for Islamic Studies, on May 18-19, 2011. The conference title is "The Root Causes of Terrorism: A Religious Studies Perspective." Click here for further information. He will be teaching for one week at the Levisson Instituut in Amsterdam to help train their cohort of Reform rabbis. Click here for further information. Rabbi Firestone will present at "Religion & Peace: Peace in Monotheistic Traditions," a conference at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem hosted jointly by the Van Leer Institute and Bar Ilan University. His presentation, "We belong to a Religion of Peace, but You belong to a Religion of War," will argue that religions do not really strive for peace.
Dr. Lisa Grant, Associate Professor of Jewish Education, is co-editor of the International Handbook in Jewish Education. She will teach a seminar on practitioner research, "Igniting the Sparks: How Practitioner Inquiry Can Help Answer Hot Questions in Jewish Education" at the Leo Baeck College in London on May 18, 2011. The following day, she will be part of both the opening keynote and closing plenary of a day-long conference on research in Jewish education, sponsored by the UJIA. Dr. Grant will speak at Finchley Reform Temple in London on Shabbat, May 14, where HUC-JIR alumna Zoe Jacobs currently serves as cantor. Dr. Grant will be part of a plenary session highlighting the groundbreaking International Handbook of Jewish Education at the Network for Research in Jewish Education, which will take place at York University in Toronto from June 12-14. Click here for further information.
Dr. Leah Hochman, Director, Louchheim School for Judaic Studies, and Assistant Professor of Jewish Thought, will be the Scholar in Residence during Temple Sinai of Las Vegas's annual retreat to Zion National Park on April 29-May 1, 2011. Dr. Hochman will be teaching and learning on "Telling Our Stories: Jewish Stories About Ourselves and Others," "The Beauty in Judaism, Aesthetics, Nature and Religion," and "It's Not Easy Being Green: Nature, Jewish Ethics, the Beautiful and You."
Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, Ph.D., Barbara and Stephen Friedman Professor of Liturgy, Worship, and Ritual, will participate in an international symposium, "Legal Scholar - Preacher - Spiritual Adviser: Changing Roles of Rabbis, Pastors, and Priests" in Regensburg, Germany on September 19-22, 2011. Click here for further information.
Rabbi Gary Zola, Ph.D., Executive Director of The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives and Professor of the American Jewish Experience, will serve as the Bernice and Seymour Nordenberg Scholar-In-Residence at North Shore Congregation Israel in Glencoe, IL, on April 29-May 1, 2011. The weekend will also mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of the congregation. Click here for further information.

Panel Discussion with Artists Laurie Gross and Susan Jordan, and Dr. Norman Cohen, Professor of Midrash: April 28 at HUC-JIR/New York

On Thursday, April 28, 2011, artists Laurie Gross and Susan Jordan will join Dr. Norman Cohen, Professor of Midrash at HUC-JIR/New York, for a discussion of "The Seven Days of Creation," a monumental tapestry created by the artists. The textile, composed of jacquard woven and hand-embroidered cotton, is split into seven panels and has embroidered imagery depicting God's creation from the first day to the Sabbath. A reception will be held from 5:00-7:00 pm, with a panel discussion from 5:45-6:45 pm. Photo ID and RSVP required: or 212-824-2293. This program is presented by the Irma and Abram S. Croll Center for Jewish Learning and Culture.

"Ashes to Ashes" - A Play and Discussion with a Psychoanalyst and Holocaust Expert: April 30 and May 1 at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati

HUC-JIR and the UC Ethics Center will host "Ashes to Ashes," a play by Harold Pinter addressing nature of human relationships and memories of political violence. The play will be followed by a discussion with a psychoanalyst and a Holocaust expert. The play will be presented on April 30 and May 1, and is presented by and benefits the Cincinnati Psychoanalytic Institute. Both events will take place in the chapel at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati, in cooperation with the American Jewish Archives.

HUC-JIR/New York Graduation and Ordination/Investiture Ceremonies: May 5 and 8 at Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York

Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York will hold Graduation Ceremonies on Thursday, May 5, 2011 at 4 pm and Investiture & Ordination Ceremonies on Sunday, May 8, 2011 at 9 am. The convocations will take place at Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York (10 East 66th Street entrance for Graduation; Fifth Avenue at 65th Street entrance for Ordination/Investiture). Rabbi Ellenson will present honorary degrees and awards to leading academic, communal, and civic leaders; award earned degrees to HUC-JIR's graduates; ordain the Rabbinical Class of 2011; and invest the Cantorial Class of 2011.

"Jews & Baseball: An American Love Story:" May 10 at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati

On Tuesday, May 10, 2011, the American Jewish Archives at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati will host the premiere of the film, "Jewish & Basketball: An American Love Story." The story is brought to life through Dustin Hoffman's narration, and interviews with dozens of passionate and articulate fans, writers, executives. Fans including Ron Howard and Larry King connect the stories of baseball to their own lives, and to the turbulent history of the last century. Their stories are inter-cut with dramatic and never-before-seen film clips and photos of great Jewish players, unforgettable games, and the broad sweep of American history.

"Siona Benjamin: Esther Megillah" Opening Reception: May 11 at HUC-JIR/New York

On Wednesday, May 11, 2011, from 5:30-7:30 pm, the HUC-JIR Museum at the New York campus will host the opening reception of "Siona Benjamin: Esther Megillah." Originally from Bombay, painter Siona Benjamin was raised Jewish in a predominantly Hindu and Muslim area of India. Now living in the US, Benjamin creates work that combines the imagery of her past with the role she plays in America today. Her work is inspired by both Indian miniature paintings and Jewish and Christian illuminated manuscripts. The Esther Megillah is the basis for the Jewish celebration of the festival of Purim. The exhibition is on view through June 30, 2011. Photo ID and RSVP required: or 212-824-2293. Free and open to the public.

Concerts on Clifton Spring Concert: May 15 at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati

Paul Ben-Haim's Three Songs without Words for Viola and Piano, W. A. Mozart-The Piano Quartet in E flat Major KV 493, and Gabriel Faure's The Piano Quartet in C Minor Op. 15 will be performed. Reception with musicians to follow. Free and open to the public. RSVP to

Rabbi David Ellenson Presents "The Contribution of the Jewish Seminary to American Life and Scholarship:" May 22 at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati

Join the HUC-JIR/Cincinnati campus for a special 100th anniversary celebration on Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 4:00 pm. Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D., President, HUC-JIR, will present "The Contribution of the Jewish Seminary to American Life and Scholarship." Reception to follow. Free and open to the public.

American Jewish Archives to Host "Travels in American Jewish History:" June 1-5 in Savannah

The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati 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.

New at the HUC-JIR Judaica Gallery

Known as the "Grapevine Bowl," this unique piece is from the workshop of renowned Judaic glass artist Steve Resnick. It features gently engraved grape leaves and vines, as well as the phrase "flowing with milk and honey" in Hebrew. This beautiful piece is available exclusively at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Museum.

$590 plus shipping and handling. To purchase, please contact: 212-824-2218,

Please click here for a larger image.

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