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May 19, 2011
Spotlight On
News at HUC-JIR
HUC-JIR in the News
Faculty News
Photo of the Week
New at the HUC-JIR Judaica Gallery
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HUC-JIR News is a weekly e-newsletter produced by HUC-JIR's National Public Affairs Office.
Spotlight On
Dr. Gary P. Zola Asked to Bring Civil War Medal from Cincinnati's American Jewish Archives to White House Reception With President Obama

Dr. Gary P. Zola, Executive Director of the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati, was invited to a White House reception on Tuesday, May 17, by President and Mrs. Obama to commemorate Jewish American Heritage Month. The White House requested that Dr. Zola bring with him one of the most iconic holdings within the collections of the American Jewish Archives: The Congressional Medal of Honor received by Union Soldier David Urbansky during the Civil War. Urbansky received the nation's highest honor for gallantry at two of his major fighting engagements during the war. "I hope that the State of Ohio and friends of the American Jewish Archives from around the nation will take pride in this development," said Zola. "I am deeply honored that the AJA and HUC-JIR will play such a prominent role in the Jewish American Heritage Month reception at the White House." Zola also received an invitation to attend a White House briefing in the morning prior to the afternoon reception.

News at HUC-JIR
HUC-JIR's Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles Ordination and Graduation Ceremonies with Graduation Address by C.L. Max Nikias, USC President

HUC-JIR's Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles held Ordination Ceremonies on Sunday, May 15, 2011 at Wilshire Boulevard Temple and Graduation Ceremonies on Monday, May 16, 2011 on campus. At Ordination Ceremonies, Rabbi Ellenson ordained 13 students from the Los Angeles Rabbinical Class of 2011. Rabbi Ellenson presented the Ordination address. At Graduation Ceremonies, Rabbi Ellenson presented the Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, to Howard Friedman, Chair of the Skirball Cultural Center and National Civic Leader, and C.L. Max Nikias, President of the University of Southern California, who presented the Graduation address. Click here to read Nikias' address. Rabbi Ellenson presented 25-year rabbinical, communal service, and education alumni with honorary doctorates. Rabbi Ellenson presented the following earned degrees to HUC-JIR's graduates: The Master of Arts in Jewish Nonprofit Management, The Master of Arts in Jewish Education, and The Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters.

Presentation of the Roger E. Joseph Prize to ATZUM-Justice Works and Rabbi Levi Lauer with Address by Rabbi Lauer

Rabbi David Ellenson awarded the 2011 Roger E. Joseph Prize to ATZUM-Justice Works and Rabbi Levi Lauer, its Founding Executive Director, at Ordination and Investiture Ceremonies at Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York on Sunday, May 8, 2011. Established in 2002 in Israel, ATZUM endeavors to open eyes and extend hands to those in need, to confront and remedy injustices in Israel. ATZUM's work is founded on the belief that Israel should serve as an example for the rest of the world in addressing social problems and crises. The Roger E. Joseph Prize was established thirty years ago in memory of Mr. Joseph, a lawyer, World War II hero, and polio victim. Although almost completely paralyzed, he resumed his law practice and advanced causes of social justice, inspired by his own exceptional personal courage and passionate devotion to principle and justice. Click here to read Rabbi Lauer's address.

Reform Think Tank Invites Your Ideas on Strengthening the Future of Judaism in North America

The Reform Movement, through Reform Judaism Magazine and as part of the Think Tank, wants to know what you think about how to strengthen the future of Judaism in North America. The magazine's next cover story will offer a behind-the-scenes history of changes in Judaism and Reform Judaism featuring information that even those well-versed in the subject have been surprised to learn-as a means to engage the entire Reform Movement as well as unaffiliated Jews in discussing the "Big Questions" of our present and future. Each of the major stories in the section-with authors/interviewees Rabbi David Ellenson, Rabbi Lawrence Englander, Rabbi Steve Fox, Rabbi Lance Sussman, and Rabbi Dan Freelander-includes 3 "Big Questions" derived from their reflections. The interactive website has just gone live at Add your thoughts to this conversation-this is an opportunity for your ideas to be considered by the Reform Think Tank as well as the leadership of the Reform Movement.

HUC-JIR's Pesach Project 2011 in the Former Soviet Union

In partnership with the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ), HUC-JIR sent 16 students to facilitate educational programming and prayer experiences in Progressive communities in the Former Soviet Union (FSU) during Passover. The Pesach Project, now in its ninth year, strengthens the connections between HUC-JIR and Worldwide Progressive Judaism, enriches Progressive communities in the FSU, and provides participants with the once-in-a-lifetime experience of sharing Pesach with the unique Jewish communities in the FSU. From April 17 to 22, 2011, the students visited 8 communities in Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia. The students traveled to the following cities:

• Laura Breznick and Steven Morris: Baranovich and Bobruisk, Belarus
• Ryan Daniels and Liz Piper-Goldberg: Chelyabinsk and Tver, Russia
• Rayna Dushman and Miriam Farber: Grodno and Lida, Belarus
• Michael Harvey and Marina Tecktiel: Lutsk and Lviv, Ukraine
• Andi Feldman, Daniel Fliegel, and Rachael Jacob: Odessa and Kirovograd, Ukraine
• Sarah Fishman, Jaqui McCabe, and Yael Rooks-Rapport: Simferopil, Feodosia, and Yevpatoria, Ukraine
• Ricky Kamil and David Malecki: Vitebsk and Mogilev, Belarus

Design Competition with Dr. Sarah Bunin Benor

Dr. Sarah Bunin Benor, Associate Professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies at HUC-JIR, is finishing her book, Becoming Frum: How Newcomers Learn the Language and Culture of Orthodox Judaism (forthcoming, Rutgers University Press), and she is looking to the public to help design the book's cover. The book is based on research in an east coast community that might be described as Yeshivish Modern (black hat, non-Hasidic) and that includes many FFBs (people who are "frum from birth") and many BTs (ba'alei teshuva: Orthodox Jews who once were non-observant). Becoming Frum offers a scholarly and accessible look at the linguistic and cultural process of "becoming" - an entertaining and insightful read for students, scholars, and anyone interested in religious studies, social science, or linguistics. The winning cover image will likely be a photograph, but it could be a drawing or painting.

HUC-JIR in the News
Nikias Receives Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters - USC News

USC President C. L. Max Nikias received the Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, at HUC-JIR Graduation Ceremonies on May 16, 2011. Rabbi David Ellenson, President, said: "Dr. Nikias' administrative gifts and vision have been utilized innovatively in university life. As an eloquent spokesman for the University of Southern California and a long-standing, esteemed partner, he has provided dynamic leadership to numerous civic, national and international councils and boards." HUC-JIR has a unique partnership with USC, by which more than 600 USC undergraduate students each year explore Jewish studies with the college's faculty in the Louchheim School of Judaic Studies. Students in HUC-JIR's School of Jewish Nonprofit Management have the opportunity to pursue dual degrees at the USC School of Social Work; the School of Policy, Planning, and Development; the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism; the USC Marshall School of Business; and the USC Roski School of Fine Arts.

HUC-JIR Graduates Follow in their Father's Footsteps -

Completing a course of study is always a time of celebration, but for the families of three students at the Cincinnati campus of HUC-JIR, this spring has particular meaning. Each of the students will be going into the family business, so to speak. They are following in the footsteps of their fathers, and in the case of Aaron Miller, the footsteps of his grandfather as well. Mr. Miller, along with Laila Haas, will be among the rabbinical students to be ordained on May 21. Miller's father, Jonathan Miller, is a rabbi at Temple Emanu-El in Birmingham, AL, as was his grandfather, Judea Miller, now deceased. Ms. Hass's father, Steven Haas, is a cantor at Temple Beth Sholom in Miami Beach, FL. Ariel Boxman, another HUC-JIR student, will not be ordained until next year, but she will be graduating with a Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters degree on May 19. At the same time, her father, Rabbi Bradd Boxman, will accept an honorary doctorate, a distinction bestowed on those completing 25 years of service as a rabbi.

Jewish Secularism's Moment - The Jewish Week

Nearly 50 years ago, Time magazine described a rise in Jewish secularism that disturbed some leaders of the American Jewish community. Jewish support for a secular agenda added "fuel to the flames of anti-Semitism," In 2011, the emerging strength of Jewish secularism (or secular Jews, not necessarily the same) that Time wrote about has grown into a presence that represents about four in 10 of the country's self-identified Jews, according to studies, and which is subject to less criticism from Jewish and outside circles. Today, secular Jews don't feel compelled to defend their beliefs - or non-beliefs. A study is being conducted by the Los Angeles-based Institute for Jewish Spirituality on how many non-believing Jews are in the United States and how the Jewish community can accommodate them. The results, said Diana Schuster, a lecturer at HUC-JIR's Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles, will be used by the institute to develop retreats for "Jewish doubters" and for "clergy who work with the doubter population." "Outreach to secular Jews may help strengthen the Jewish community, by recognizing their connection to Jewish peoplehood," says Rabbi Rachel Cowan, Executive Director of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. "There's an un-vocalized tension at the core of synagogue services. The rabbi speaks about God and nobody really knows what that means."

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

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. 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, 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.
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.

Choral Colors and Cantorial Currents: May 19 at Temple Sinai on Long Island

On Thursday, May 19, 2011, at 7:30 pm, students from The Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music at HUC-JIR/New York will present a very special concert at Temple Sinai in Roslyn Heights, NY, entitled Choral Colors and Cantorial Currents. This program of choral and ensemble music is under the direction of Joyce Rosenzweig (Artist-in-Residence, HUC-JIR/NY), with pianist Pedro d'Aquino and guest performer Cantor Gabi Arad. The evening will feature music by Salamone Rossi, Achinoam Nini and Gil Dor, Yehezkel Braun, Robert Applebaum, Jonathan Comisar, Morris Barash, Debbie Friedman, Bonia Shur, Maurice Goldman, Andrea Jill Higgins, Natalie Young, Joshua Breitzer, and Mary Thomas. Listen to the amazing talents of the next generation of cantors as they sing a program in celebration of Yom Yerushalayim, Song of Songs, and our fantastic Jewish choral heritage.

HUC-JIR/Cincinnati Graduation and Ordination Ceremonies: May 19 and 21 in Cincinnati

Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati will hold Graduation Ceremonies on Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 7:30 pm and Ordination Ceremonies on Saturday, May 21, 2011 at 9 am. Graduation Ceremonies will take place at Isaac M. Wise Temple (8329 Ridge Road, Cincinnati) and Ordination Ceremonies will take place at Plum Street Temple (720 Plum Street, Cincinnati). Rabbi Ellenson will present honorary degrees and awards to leading academic, communal, and civic leaders; award earned degrees to HUC-JIR's graduates; and ordain the Rabbinical Class of 2011. Dr. Marc Saperstein, Principal, Leo Baeck College, will present the Graduation address. Dr. Edward Goldman, Bettan Chair Emeritus in Midrash and Homiletics, HUC-JIR/Cincinnati, will present the Ordination address.

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.

Photo of the Week

HUC-JIR's Desert Spirituality Shabbaton Program provided students studying abroad with opportunities to increase their interest, knowledge, and connection to Reform Judaism during their time in Jerusalem. The Desert Spirituality Shabbaton allowed students to engage in a Reform Shabbat experience while exploring a new part of Israel by immersing them in the Reform Kibbutz, Yahel. The goal of the weekend was for students to not only experience a Reform Shabbat, but also to create an environment where they were encouraged to discuss their own Jewish identity. By offering traditional services, along with alternatives, such as yoga and time in nature, it created an atmosphere where students felt comfortable exploring Reform Judaism.

Many thanks to Men of Reform Judaism's Reform on Campus Program for sharing this photograph and information. Click here for further information on the Men of Reform Judaism's Reform on Campus Program.

Please click here for a larger image.

New at the HUC-JIR Judaica Gallery

Celebrate Shabbat with contemporary artist Genevieve Flynn's sterling silver "Jacob's Ladder" Shabbat candlesticks. This unusual pair of candlesticks will be a treasure to pass on to family members. The bases are handraised and highly polished and the candle sleeves hold a taper or standard pillar candle. Each pair is a one-of-a-kind.

$950 plus shipping and handling. To purchase, please contact: 212-824-2218,

Please click here for a larger image.

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