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September 01, 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
Spirituality Initiative of the New York School
Made Possible by the Joyce and Irving Goldman Family Foundation

The New York campus of HUC-JIR has received a generous grant from the Joyce and Irving Goldman Family Foundation to create the Spirituality Initiative of the New York School. The program seeks to nourish the spiritual needs of our rabbinical, cantorial, and education students through a number of opportunities created via collaboration between HUC-JIR/New York faculty and the Institute for Jewish Spirituality (IJS). "It is crucial that we enable our students to deepen their own spiritual practice during their training," said Rabbi Shirley Idelson (HUC-JIR/NY '91), Dean of the New York School. "This Initiative will engage our students in rigorous, intellectually engaging and deeply honest work that will help them become more effective Jewish professionals capable of making religious meaning and experience accessible to all Jews who seek it, regardless of background. The impact promises to be profound, and I am grateful to the New York faculty and the IJS team who have worked hard to integrate the Spirituality Initiative into the life of our school," Idelson said, "and especially to the Goldman Family Foundation for making this possible."

News at HUC-JIR
Ayala Zacks Abramov, z"l, Remembered

Dr. Michael Marmur, Vice President for Academic Affairs, writes, "We mourn the passing and celebrate the life of one of Israel's most outstanding cultural figures, and a great friend of the College-Institute. Ayala Zacks Abramov was a truly remarkable woman by any criterion. She had impeccable taste, enormous generosity of spirit, and a strong will. Her hospitality and gracious support of the College-Institute has set a benchmark for Israeli support. During the 1970s, she and her husband S. Zalman Abramov became involved in the Jerusalem school of HUC-JIR. Zalman was to become the Chair of the Jerusalem Board of Overseers, and following his death in 1997 Ayala maintained her enthusiastic support for the College-Institute. For several years many of the most eminent intellectuals and political figures addressed an annual symposium in Zalman Abramov's memory in our Abramov Library at the Jerusalem school. She will be missed." Please click here to read more.

Please click here for the Jerusalem Post's obituary for Ayala Zacks Abramov.

HUC-JIR's School of Jewish Nonprofit Management Awards Summer Degrees

Fourteen students from HUC-JIR's School of Jewish Nonprofit Management gathered on August 2, 2011 in Los Angeles to receive Graduate Certificates in Jewish Nonprofit Management. They were honored during a ceremony at the Jack H. Skirball Campus that featured Dr. John S. Ruskay, President and CEO of the UJA-Federation of New York, as the Culmination Speaker and Rabbi Louis Bernstein Scholar-in-Residence. Ruskay, who is head of the largest Federation in the United States, spoke of the exciting future awaiting each of the students: "Those culminating today will lead congregations, Hebrew schools, camps, Jewish communal agencies, and agencies that are today only ideas; agencies that will be challenged to become models of inspired Jewish living. Each of you will be called upon to inspire people to create Jewish lives of meaning; to engage in Jewish learning and service." To read the entirety of Ruskay's address, entitled, "Embracing and Resisting Change: What's Abiding?" click here.

The 2011 Tekkes Siyyum Culminating Ceremony of DeLeT Fellows

The Tekkes Siyyum Culminating Ceremony of DeLeT Fellows took place on July 22, 2011. The members of Cohort 9 received a certificate in Jewish Day School Teaching from the Rhea Hirsch School of Education. All graduates were offered lead teaching positions, a feat that DeLeT Education Director Robert Tornberg called "extraordinary" given the current economic climate. "You let me glimpse into the future and see that there will be leaders in your generation who will carry on the work of those who came before you, who will ensure a Jewish future, who will move the world closer to Tikkun Olam," he said.

Dr. Tsvia Walden Suggests New Nomenclature for HUC-JIR in Israel

Dr. Tsvia Walden, Director of Institute for Initiatives, Language, and Computers, and Senior Lecturer at Beit Berl College and Ben-Gurion University, received the Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, and presented the HUC-JIR/Jerusalem Ordination and Academic Convocation Address on October 29, 2010. In her Address, she suggested new nomenclature for HUC-JIR in Israel: "Since the privilege of receiving a degree has come my way at this institution - an institution that offers a rabbinical ordination program and another for the training of cantors, among its diverse programs here in Jerusalem - I would like to present it with a gift on behalf of the Hebrew language: a new Hebrew name, Kolelya, which in a variant spelling, Kol-el-Ya, a voice raised to God, lends itself to the cantorial program."

News from the Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health

Michele Prince, Director of the Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health, writes, "Each quarter, I am struck by the new themes that emerge in the institute's work. Many colleagues are producing programming and writing on the theme of resilience. In uncertain times, we seek to develop resilience to face our struggles and challenges. What can we learn from within Judaism to create and strengthen our coping? What truths and interpretations can we find in our Jewish sources to help us uncover the strength and power of sacred time and community?"

Rabbi Kari Hofmaister Tuling, HUC-JIR Doctoral Candidate, Awarded Grant from the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture

Rabbi Kari Hofmaister Tuling, a doctoral candidate at HUC-JIR, was recently awarded a prestigious grant for the 2011-2012 academic year from the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture to provide funding for her doctoral dissertation research. Tuling, a rabbi who continued her education immediately post-ordination in the doctoral program, is writing in the area of Jewish Thought. The title of her dissertation is "Between Maimonides and Kant: Hermann Cohen's Religion of Reason."

HUC-JIR in the News
Tahrir Square: A Revolution in Progress - The Jewish Journal

Rabbi Reuven Firestone, Ph.D., Professor of Medieval Judaism and Islam, and Rabbi Ruth Sohn, Director of the Aronoff Rabbinic Mentoring Program and Rabbi of the Lainer Beit Midrash, write, "Since July 8, protesters had returned to Tahrir Square [in Cairo], calling on the military council to respond more quickly and fully to the original demands of the revolution. Tahrir Square has had many roles over the past months. It served as a battlefield, a martyrs' memorial and an icon of freedom from a brutal dictatorial regime. Most of all, it is a symbol of the persistence of Egyptians to resist the corruption and totalitarian forces that have dominated Egypt for as long as anyone can remember."

Religious Schools Add Family Programs, New Apps - The Jewish Journal

Hebrew schools across Los Angeles are starting to look less and less like, well, Hebrew school. A growing number of programs now invite parents to learn alongside their children. This model favors family activities and communal prayer over student classroom time - a tradeoff that distills the most important mission of religious education: creating kids who love to be Jewish - said Isa Aron, Professor of Jewish Education at HUC-JIR. "The purpose of supplementary Jewish education is enculturation - to bring people into the Jewish culture," said Aron, Senior Adviser of the Experiment in Congregational Education (ECE), a national program founded in 1992 at HUC-JIR's Rhea Hirsch School of Education. "It's not really about subject matter but how to be part of the community. It's not about prayer, for example; it's about how to pray. The more experiential you can make it, the better."

Moving from Recession to Economic Contraction - eJewish Philanthropy

Dr. Steven Windmueller, Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk Emeritus Professor of Jewish Communal Service, writes, "We are experiencing a paradigm shift where given assumptions and set practices that we have come to understand and appreciate in our lives seem to be under assault or even unraveling. From our belief in government to our understanding of the nature of community, we are facing a reconfiguration of the order and meaning of many core elements in our lives."

How One Man Shaped American Jewish Education - The Jewish Daily Forward

The Benderly Boys and American Jewish Education, a new book by Dr. Jonathan Krasner, Associate Professor of the American Jewish Experience at HUC-JIR, was recently published by Brandeis University Press. Benderly, more than any other single individual, shaped the institutions of American Jewish education that we know today; but aside from historians of American Jewry and scholars of Jewish education, his name is virtually unknown. It is not an exaggeration to say that Krasner's volume is the most important piece of historical writing about American Jewish education to have appeared in a generation. Krasner's book delves deeply into the crucial period of the field - the 20th-century - and contextualizes the history of American Jewish education both within Jewish life and within modern education. His TV interview about this book will be aired on Sunday, September 4, 2011 at 6:00 am on WHDH-7 Boston, during the show "Jewish Perspectives with Rabbi Ronne Friedman."

The Shul that Fits - The Jewish Journal

Bruce Phillips, Professor of Jewish Communal Service at HUC-JIR, discusses the affiliation rate of the post-youth group and pre-marriage and pre-family demographic. Only 8 percent of Jews ages 21 to 40, without children said they belonged to a synagogue in a 2004 San Francisco survey. "Los Angeles' overall affiliation rate is historically higher, but Los Angeles' young adult population today is starting to look more like San Francisco's," explains Phillips.

Sacred, Teary-eyed Moments at a Special Camp Newman Ceremony -

Jaclyn Fromer, a rabbinic/education student at HUC-JIR's Jack H. Skirball campus in Los Angeles, writes, "On the night of July 30 at the URJ's Camp Newman, I facilitated a giluach rosh, a shaving of the head, for Jessica, a 16-year-old girl in her second round of chemotherapy for brain cancer. From the moment we started singing, people began to weep. This giluach rosh proved the importance of sacred rituals; of embracing change and noting the transitions that mark our daily lives. It created a space in which Jessica herself could mourn the loss of one phase of her life - one identity marker - and celebrate the beginning of another. It enabled the other women of the eidah to understand and accept that one amongst them was different and unique. And it celebrated strength, teaching girls and women alike about conviction, dignity, and perspective."

Prayer, and Bug Juice, at a Summer Camp for Jews of Color - The New York Times

Camp Be'chol Lashon, outside of San Francisco, has provided the commonplaces of Jewish summer camp to an emerging population of Jews of color. During the Sabbath service, Rabbi Ruth Abusch-Magder guided the children through the Torah portion. The passage described the Jews near the Promised Land, and the 12 spies Moses sent to report on it, and the way all but two of them, Joshua and Caleb, returned with fearful reports. "We remember the people who saw the good things," the rabbi said. "That's the challenge we have, to see the good things around us."

30 Under 30: Civic Leaders - SplashLife

Rabbi Sarah Bassin, Executive Director of NewGround: A Muslim Jewish Partnership for Change and a recent graduate of the Jack H. Skirball campus in Los Angeles, was named one of the 30 under 30 civic leaders. Often exploring her own interfaith relationships between Catholic and Jewish members of her family, Sarah Bassin, at a young age, recognized the importance and impact of interfaith dialogue between Jews and Muslims. She has also let it shape the type of Rabbi she has worked to become. Bassin joined NewGround as Executive Director to help direct efforts toward a greater understanding and more mature communications between these two religious groups.

Singing the Praises of our Mothers: A Tribute to Women Cantors - HUC-JIR's Blog of Continuing Jewish Learning

HUC-JIR has been in the forefront of educating and empowering women to take leadership roles in Jewish life. 36 years ago, the HUC-JIR's Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music invested its first female cantor. Their voices have changed prayer for all of us, women and men alike. This week's guest post in HUC-JIR's Blog of Continuing Jewish Education by Cantor Erik Contzius (HUC-JIR/NY '95) describes a tribute to the voices of Jewish women throughout the ages.

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

Dr. Michael Cook, Professor of Intertestamental and Early Christian Literatures and the Bronstein Professor in Judaeo-Christian Studies, had his book, "Modern Jews Engage the New Testament" (Jewish Lights, 2008) discussed in the Courier Press. Click here for further information.
Dr. Susan Einbinder, Professor of Hebrew Literature, is participating in the workshop, "Latin and Vernacular Translations of Hebrew Texts in the 12th and 13th Century," on September 20, 2011, in Bochum, Germany, at the Ruhruniversitaet Bochum. Click here for further information.
Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi, Professor of Bible, presented a paper on "Women in the Post-Exilic Period" at the colloquium on "Women and the Bible" in Marburg, Germany (July 14-17, 2011). The paper is for the forthcoming Encyclopedia on Women and the Bible to appear in four languages. She also presented a keynote presentation at the Society for Old Testament Studies (SOTS) in Oxford, England, on July 20, 2011, on "Cutting Corners and Reaping Rewards: Re-reading Ruth." Dr. Eskenazi is one of only 20 non-European scholars invited to join SOTS as honorary members.
Rabbi Reuven Firestone, Ph.D., Professor of Medieval Judaism and Islam, was invited to the steering committee of the International Abrahamic Forum of the International Council of Christians and Jews headquartered in Germany.
Dr. Jonathan Krasner, Assistant Professor of the American Jewish Experience, was interviewed about his new book The Benderly Boys and American Jewish Education, and his TV interview will be broadcasted on Sunday, September 4, 2011 at 6:00 am on WHDH-7 Boston, during the show "Jewish Perspectives with Rabbi Ronne Friedman."
Rabbi Dr. Dalia Marx, Assistant Professor of Liturgy and Midrash, recently published a short article on her take on the proposal of Aharon Varadi, the Open Siddur project manager, to celebrate Rosh Hashana L'baalei Hayim, the New Year for the animals, on the new moon of Elul. Click here to read her article (in Hebrew).
Dr. Andrea Weiss, Assistant Professor of Bible, spoke at a faculty seminar and then gave the annual lecture on the Hebrew Bible at Villanova University on August 31, 2011. This lecture is sponsored by the Villanova Center for Liberal Education and the Committee on Jewish Religion and Culture. Click here for further information.

The Egyptian Arab Spring: A Revolution in Progress - September 7 in Los Angeles

Professors Mohamed Hawary and Reuven Firestone and Rabbi Ruth Sohn are hosting an open house and panel discussion, "The Egyptian Arab Spring: A Revolution in Progress," on Wednesday, September 7, 2011 at 7:30 pm. The event is sponsored by HUC-JIR and Ikar. To RSVP, please contact Professor Firestone at

Opening Reception of "Janet Shafner: Dark Prophecies" - September 14 at HUC-JIR/New York

The New York campus of HUC-JIR will host the opening reception of "Janet Shafner: Dark Prophecies" on Wednesday, September 14, 2011, from 5:00 - 7:30 pm. Turning to the Torah for the original sources of human relationships, Janet Shafner engaged with moral issues, ethics, and the unremitting arc of life and death. The monumental scale of her work encompasses dramatic scenes and places biblical actors on a cosmic stage. The exhibition is presented by the Irma L. and Abram S. Croll Center for Jewish Learning and Culture, with the support of George, z"l, and Mildred Weissman, and Cantor Mimi Frishman and Rabbi Louis Frishman. "Janet Shafner: Dark Prophecies" is on view through March 30, 2012. RSVP required: 212-824-2298 or

Fields of Engagement: Debating Key Questions of Research and Jewish Education - September 19 in New York

The Berman Jewish Policy Archive presents "Fields of Engagement: Debating Key Questions of Research and Jewish Education," a symposium featuring Dr. Lisa Grant and Dr. Alex Pomson and moderated by Professor Steven M. Cohen. The symposium, celebrating the publication of the International Handbook of Jewish Education, will take place on Monday, September 19, 2011 from 5:00 - 7:00 pm at NYU Wagner. RSVP required.

Opening Reception of "Nathan Hilu's Journal: Word, Image, Memory" - September 21 at HUC-JIR/New York

The New York campus of HUC-JIR will host the opening reception of "Nathan Hilu's Journal: Word, Image, Memory" on Wednesday, September 21, 2011, from 3:30 - 5:30 pm. Nathan Hilu's imaginative works evoke memories of his long, multi-faceted life. The phrase art brut, coined by Jean Dubuffet in 1922, best describes Hilu's style - naif, or outsider art that does not adhere to the mainstream. Boldly drawn with passion and intensity, Hilu's art captures the essence of his early days on the Lower East Side, imagined scenes from Jewish midrash, and his experiences as a U.S. Army guard at the Nuremberg Prison and the subsequent International War Crimes Trials. The exhibition is presented by the Irma L. and Abram S. Croll Center for Jewish Learning and Culture, with the support of George, z"l, and Mildred Weissman, and Cantor Mimi Frishman and Rabbi Louis Frishman. "Nathan Hilu's Journal: Word, Image, Memory" is on view through March 30, 2012. RSVP required: 212-824-2298 or

Sotto Voce Jazz and Hip-Hop Fusion Concert - September 24 in Cincinnati

HUC-JIR/Cincinnati is hosting a free jazz and hip-hop fusion concert on Saturday, September 24, 2011, at 7 pm. Sotto Voce is the new group from the extraordinarily gifted and wide-open mind of saxophonist/composer/songwriter Roy Nathanson. The group features his fellow Jazz Passengers Curtis Fowlkes and Sam Bardfeld, along with singing bassist Tim Kiah and human beat-box/singer Napolean Maddox of the Cincinnati hip-hop/jazz outfit Iswhat?!

Photo of the Week

The Cincinnati campus of HUC-JIR recently celebrated the Bar Mitzvah of Professor Werner Weinberg's great-grandson, Skyler Banfill, in the Scheuer Chapel. Banfill read from the Weinberg family Torah, which was rescued by Werner Weinberg, z"l, during Kristallnacht in 1938. It was later given to HUC-JIR/Cincinnati, where it now is on display in the Skirball Museum and used on Weinberg family occasions. Rabbi Ken Kanter, Director of the Rabbinical School and one of Dr. Weinberg's many students, officiated the Bar Mitzvah ceremony.

Please click here for a larger image.

New at the HUC-JIR Judaica Gallery

From the studio of prominent Judaic textile artist Reeva Shaffer comes an elegant collection of hand-crocheted kippot for women. The kippot are beautifully adorned with feminine touches that include beaded flowers, sequins and lace.

Each sold separately, $60 plus shipping and handling. To purchase, please contact: 212-824-2218,

Please click here for a larger image.

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