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emails from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Next Issue: March 8
February 09, 2012
Spotlight News In the Media Faculty Events Photo of the Week Judaica Gallery
Beit Shemesh, Religious Extremism, and the Dignity of Women: Some Lessons from History – Lilith Magazine
Rabbi David Ellenson, President, writes, “The recent contretemps in Beit Shemesh riveted the Israeli public and brought worldwide attention to the misogynistic treatment accorded women in the public square by certain sectors of ultra-Orthodox Israeli society. These episodes of Jewish religious extremism unconscionably objectify women and are absolutely incompatible with the democratic and egalitarian values upon which the State of Israel was founded.”
New Book Frames Debate on Conversion
The issue of who can become a Jew through conversion is controversial and critical to determining the essence of the Jewish character, and as timely as the current headlines from Jerusalem. But as two rabbinic scholars, Rabbi David Ellenson and Rabbi Daniel Gordis, show in assessing Orthodox rabbinic decision-making on the subject over the last two centuries, the debate is hardly new. And in their recently published book, “Pledges of Jewish Allegiance: Conversion, Law and Policymaking in Nineteenth‐ and Twentieth‐Century Orthodox Responsa,” the authors emphasize that opinions have always taken into account the social context and conditions of the day as well as interpretation of Jewish law.
In Memoriam: Rabbi W. Gunther Plaut, z"l
Rabbi Plaut was an unparalleled scholar, leader, and rabbi of our Reform Movement and our People. HUC-JIR will be forever blessed that it had the zechut to bring him from Germany to our Cincinnati campus during the 1930s and save him from destruction during the Shoah. Rabbi Plaut served on the HUC-JIR Board of Governors and was honored by HUC-JIR with the Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa, in 1964, and the Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, in 2003. In his scholarship, congregational calling, and his life, we will not see his like again. Baruch dayan emet.
Esther Herlitz Steps Down from HUC-JIR/Jerusalem Board of Overseers
Esther Herlitz has stepped down from the HUC-JIR/Jerusalem Board of Overseers after 25 years of devoted service. Her passionate devotion to the Jewish people worldwide, to a democratic and pluralistic Israel, and to building the bridges between has not wavered. She is a pioneering force and a true role model for women today. We are beyond grateful to Esther Herlitz; on her shoulders, the Jerusalem campus has stood taller.
Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles Speaks at HUC-JIR's Jack H. Skirball Campus
David Siegel, Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles since August 2011, spoke about the ever-changing situation in the Middle East as well as the many powerful – but non-political – events taking place in Israel during a January 31 appearance at HUC-JIR’s Jack H. Skirball Campus. The senior representative of the State of Israel to the Southwestern United States used his visit as an opportunity to raise another important question: How do we discuss Israel and North American Jewry in a way that makes people feel comfortable taking part in the conversation?
Debbie Friedman Remembered – Friends and family of Debbie Friedman joined together to share and reflect on Debbie Friedman’s memory and legacy at two events sponsored by HUC-JIR: the first on January 22 at Temple Isaiah, co-sponsored by the Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health, and the second on February 4 at the Jerusalem campus.
NYSOE Alumni Association Annual "Brunch and Learn" Highlights the Campaign for Youth Engagement – On January 31, the New York School of Education held its annual Alumni Association "Brunch and Learn" with students, faculty, and alumni from HUC-JIR’s Schools of Education. Lisa David and Lisa Barzilai presented the URJ's “Campaign for Youth Engagement: Committing to the Jewish Future."
Changing the Mindscape and Landscape of Jewish Peoplehood: New Paradigms for Educational Leaders – Fellows and Mentors of the Leadership Institute are having a Mifgash with a group of Israeli educators to engage Jewish educational leaders from different parts of the world in a meaningful discussion around topics of mutual interest to educational leaders.
In the Media
HUC-JIR Set to Give Back – – Cincinnati helped save HUC-JIR, so now the college wants to start paying back. Dr. Jonathan Cohen, Dean, HUC-JIR/Cincinnati, said a new series of public lectures and concerts, a new public Internet site, and new academic programs at area colleges are only a few of the ways the rabbinical and graduate school will reach out to the region where it was founded in 1875. “We literally would not be here if not for the extraordinary support of this community,” said Cohen. “We are grateful for that and we are determined to give back.”
Conference Inspires Spiritual Care – UJA Federation of New York – UJA-Federation, in collaboration with HUC-JIR’s Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health, convened the Jewish Seminary Pastoral Educators Conference to help expand the field of Jewish pastoral education, which has been growing over the past 10 years. Sessions covered topics ranging from pastoral training partnerships with human-service agencies to the latest concepts on teaching pastoral care.
2012 Elections and the Jewish Vote – The Jewish Journal – Professor Steven F. Windmueller, Ph.D., Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk Emeritus Professor, writes, “The forthcoming Presidential election promises to be a challenging time for America. For Jews, a number of key issues will be particularly significant as we enter this political cycle.”
Advice for Jewish Professionals: What Every Grad Should Know – HUC-JIR’s Blog of Continuing Jewish Learning – Last week, HUC-JIR alumni shared advice that helped shape their career with our graduating class, the Class of 2012, as a way of welcoming those who will soon join their ranks.
Camp-School Pilot Stresses Connections – The Jewish Week – HUC-JIR School of Jewish Nonprofit Management and Rhea Hirsch School of Education alumna Mindy Davids is working on a new program to bridge the gap between camp and school in an effort aimed at making Jewish education a year-round experience.
HUC-JIR is proud of our accomplished faculty:
Dr. Sarah Benor, Associate Professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies, will present “Guardians, Rebooters, and JConnecters: Young Jewish Leaders and Social Class in Los Angeles Today” during the session “Judaism in Los Angeles” at the conference, “Looking for Judaism in Unconventional Places,” on February 13 at 9:30 at UCLA. Dr. Bruce A. Phillips, Professor of Jewish Communal Service, will present “Over the Rainbow and Under the Radar: Non-formal Jewish Engagement in California” during the session “New Trends in Jewish Religious Life” at the conference, “Looking for Judaism in Unconventional Places,” on February 13 at 11:30 at UCLA.
Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi, Professor of Bible, was honored with a distinguished fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities in order to pursue her research interests in biblical women. Her project is called “Out from the Shadows: Biblical Women and Women in the Persian Period, 6th to 4th Centuries B.C.E.” Click here for further information. Cantor Bruce Ruben, Ph.D., Director of the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music, presented a lecture on his book, Max Lilienthal: The Making of the American Rabbinate, and led evening services at Beth Shalom Liberale Jüdische Gemeinde on January 13.
Rabbi Reuven Firestone, Ph.D., Professor of Medieval Judaism and Islam, was invited to be part of a panel at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on March 2 as part of the opening of the New Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia. Click here for further information. Dr. Gary P. Zola, Executive Director of the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives and Professor of the American Jewish Experience, will present “Abraham Lincoln and the Jews" on February 28 at 6:30 pm at the Center for Jewish History (15 West 16th Street) in New York. Click here for further information.
Dr. Jonathan Krasner, Associate Professor of the American Jewish Experience, is a finalist for the 2012 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature for his new book, "The Benderly Boys and American Jewish Education." Click here for further information.
“Song of the Land” Artists’ Reception: February 23 at HUC-JIR Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles
HUC-JIR and the Jewish Women Artists Network are pleased to invite you to “Song of the Land” artists’ reception on February 23 at the Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles. “Song of the Land” is a collection of 44 works whose theme challenges artists to consider contemporary issues of environmental sustainability. It not only shares concerns about what is happening to the world physically and spiritually, but offers a challenge to protect the planet in order to ensure the future of Earth’s blessing.
Concerts on Clifton: Sounds of Sondheim: March 4 at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati
Experience the music of American composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim as performed by HUC-JIR students and faculty on March 4 at 4:00 pm at the Cincinnati campus. Reception to follow.
Open History Seminar - Adding the Soundtrack: Jews and Music in 19th Century America: February 27 at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati
Join Dr. Judah Cohen, Associate Professor of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University, for a lecture exploring the role that music has played in Jewish American life on February 27 at 12:30 at HUC-JIR’s American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati.
The Dead Sea Scrolls: The Cincinnati Connection: March 7 at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati
Join us on March 7 at 12:00 pm at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati for a commemorative service, as well as a short lecture by scholar in residence Dr. Martin Abegg. Dr. Abegg will speak about his work with Ben Zion Wacholder, z"l, a special teacher and collaborator. Reception to follow.
Ethics Center Luncheon: Modern Slavery - Human Trafficking: March 1 at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati
Join the HUC-UC Ethics Center for a luncheon featuring Luke Bocher, Director of Contemporary Slavery Initiatives at The Freedom Center, as he speaks about issues relating to human trafficking on March 1 at 1:00 pm.
HUC-JIR’s Annual Soup Kitchen Benefit: March 15 at HUC-JIR/New York
Every Spring, we host a wonderful evening to benefit the HUC-JIR Soup Kitchen. Our Soup Kitchen Celebration will take place on March 15 at 6:30 pm at the New York campus. We invite you to join our community for a festive evening with entertainment, drinks, food, and a live auction to support the HUC-JIR's Soup Kitchen.
David Ellenson and Rachel Adler On “The State of American Jewish Belief Revisited: At the Edge of a Crisis or at a New Threshold?” March 4 in Chicago
Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D., President, and Dr. Rachel Adler, Professor of Modern Jewish Thought and Judaism and Gender, join with leading thinkers to share their unique vantage points on a series of questions: Is American Judaism theologically bankrupt or is it at the cusp of a radically new beginning? How should we diagnose this perceived crisis and what proposals might counter it? How can American Judaism build on traditional Jewish thought to address today’s challenges?
Photo of the Week
HUC-JIR Year-in-Israel students visited Ein Prat Academy for Leadership last week, together with JTS and Ziegler rabbinic students. Our students studied in Hevrutot with Ein Prat students, were addressed by Micha Goodman, the Director of the Midrasha, and hiked with their students.

Click here for a larger image.
Judaica Gallery
Bring color to your Sabbath table with Israeli ceramic artist Gaia Smith's challah plate. Using an inlaid technique on colored porcelain, Smith's challah plate depicts the imagery of the Sabbath dinner table. $320, plus shipping and handling.

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

Click here for a larger image.

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