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From our community to yours, best wishes for a Zissen Pesach.
Click here for a Passover greeting from Rabbi David Ellenson, President,
and Irwin Engelman, Chairman, Board of Governors.
Next Issue: May 10, 2012
April 5, 2012
Spotlight News In the Media Faculty Events Photo of the Week Judaica Gallery
Rabbi David Ellenson, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, and Rabbinical Colleagues on Newsweek’s “America’s Top 50 Rabbis” List
Newsweek released their 2012 list of “America’s Top 50 Rabbis,” ranking the 50 most influential rabbis in America with criteria such as leadership roles, political and social influence, national and international recognition, media presence, constituency size, impact on Judaism, and influence beyond the Jewish community. Rabbi David Ellenson, President, HUC-JIR, is noted within the article as “widely respected for his command of Jewish texts and challenging instruction.” Also listed within the top 10 rabbis are Rabbi Rick Jacobs, Incoming President, Union for Reform Judaism; Rabbi David Saperstein, Director and Counsel, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; Rabbi Peter Rubinstein, Senior Rabbi, Central Synagogue; and Rabbi Steve Leder, Senior Rabbi, Wilshire Boulevard Temple. Rabbi Jacqueline Koch Ellenson, Director, Women's Rabbinic Network, is included among the 15 rabbinical leaders of the Reform Movement. Rabbis David and Jacqueline Koch Ellenson are the only rabbinical couple so listed. Mazel tov to our extraordinary rabbinical colleagues on the list!
The Tnufa Program: Training the Next Generation of Pluralistic Social Activists
The Tnufa (momentum) Program, with 12 dynamic participants from Israel, aims to create a community of pluralistic young, social activists who meet monthly at HUC-JIR to learn, create, dream, and develop professional leadership skills that will enable them to positively impact on Israeli culture and society. All of the participants are "graduates" of the Israeli Reform Movement: youth movement, synagogues, pre-Army Mechina, and our schools.
A Window into the RHSOE's "Sociology of Jewish Education" with Dr. Tali Zelkowicz
Dr. Tali Zelkowicz, Assistant Professor of Education and Professor Sara S. Lee Chair for an Emerging Scholar in Jewish Education, assigns a one-page “Cyber Soapbox” to students at the start of her Sociology of Jewish Education course, in which students write with abandon, and express, unfettered by facts or multiple perspectives, their deepest, truest feelings about any one contested arena in Jewish education. For example, students share impassioned tirades about what is wrong with “Bar Mitzvah factories,” “why Hebrew school fails to teach any Hebrew,” or “how Israel education is actually mis-education."
New Cantorial Certification Program at HUC-JIR
HUC-JIR’s new Cantorial Certification Program, a three-year program operating under the auspices of the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music, provides soloists who have been in the field at least five years with the opportunity to gain cantorial credentials and become full members of the American Conference of Cantors. It is a rigorous part-time program that consists of both online learning and face-to-face kallot with HUC-JIR faculty, small group study, guidance from mentors, and serious time spent in development of knowledge and skills, as well as reflection upon one’s own spiritual foundation and the sharing of one’s current work in the field.
HUC-JIR Rabbi Dvora Weisberg Casts a Spell on HBO's 'True Blood'
It’s not every day that a respected rabbi agrees to help a coven of vampires. When those blood-sucking creatures of the night turned out to be the stars of HBO’s series True Blood, however, Rabbi Dvora Weisberg decided to make an exception. The request made to the Director of the School of Rabbinical Studies at HUC-JIR’s Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles was simple: translate part of the script for a future episode from English into the ancient Aramaic language. “That threw me off, because people usually want to translate from Aramaic to English,” Weisberg said. “At that point I figured I had to do this.”
"Mothers in Treatment - A Psychological-Literary Journey of Women in the Talmud" Book Launch
HUC-JIR/Jerusalem held a book launch for "Mothers in Treatment - A Psychological-Literary Journey of Women in the Talmud" by Dr. Ruchama Weiss and clinical psychologist Avner HaCohen on March 27. Addresses included "Devotion and Love," "Woman among the Sages: Then and Now," and a discussion with Weiss and HaCohen on the unique process of writing the book jointly.
Tribute Concert in Honor of Bonia Shur
A gala tribute concert was held at Plum Street Temple in Cincinnati to honor the body of work Bonia Shur, HUC-JIR Director Emeritus of Liturgical Arts. The concert featured dozens of cantors from across North America, along with a combined choir of students from the HUC-JIR/Cincinnati rabbinical school and University of Cincinnati College Conservatory (CCM). The event served as a moment to offer Bonia a kol hakavod on his lifetime’s work of tremendous achievement.
In Memoriam: Deanna Gottschalk, z"l
Deanna Gottschalk, beloved wife of our esteemed Dr. Alfred Gottschalk, z"l, passed away on March 16, on the occasion of her 73rd birthday. She will be remembered for sharing Dr. Gottschalk's devotion to our institution, Governors, Overseers, students, faculty, and staff, and for her gracious warmth. May Deanna Gottschalk's commitment to her dear family and to HUC-JIR's mission endure as an inspiring legacy, and may her memory be a source of blessing to her loved ones and to all who loved her.
Sam Spector Wins Center for Jewish Ethics Whizin Prize
Mazel tov to Sam Spector, a second-year rabbinical student at HUC-JIR’s Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles, who won the Center for Jewish Ethics Whizin Prize writing contest in Jewish Ethics. Spector is from the state of Washington and currently serves as the student rabbi of Congregation Etz Chaim in Merced, CA.
DFSSM Alumna Lisa Levine’s New Publication
Cantor Lisa Levine, NY ’89, recently published Yoga Shalom, a unique worship experience that brings together body, mind, and spirit for an extraordinary prayer service. Combining the two powerful spiritual disciplines of Jewish worship and yoga practice, Yoga Shalom leads to deeper understandings of both, or as Levine writes of her initial forays into yoga as a cantorial student, “I learned to be more present in my prayers and meditations so I could better pray with and on behalf of my congregation.”
Hebrew Ulpan Opportunity in Jerusalem
We invite you to join us at the HUC-JIR/Jerusalem Campus for Hebrew Ulpan, offered on Mondays and Wednesdays from July 11 through September 5, 5:15-7:45 pm. For registration and to take the placement test, please email or call 026203333 or 0546940662.
In the Media
Embrace the Stranger in our Midst – The Times of Israel
Rabbis David Ellenson and Daniel Gordis write, “Authors typically have many hopes when they write a book. Our primary academic agenda in writing our book was to illustrate that many Orthodox legal authorities saw themselves not only as halakhic arbiters, but as shapers of Jewish public policy. Yet books can do many things simultaneously. If our ‘Pledges of Jewish Allegiance’ also helps to raise awareness of the ways in which Orthodox authorities once unabashedly factored simple human compassion into their legal rulings, leading committed Jews today to begin to demand that people like the author of ‘A Convert in a Strange Land’ be treated differently than is too often the case today, we will be very gratified.”
Synagogues must reach out to ‘the uninspired’ – JTA
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, Incoming President, URJ, writes, “In this new era of Jewish life -- an era defined for many by the abundance of choices we face in every aspect of our lives -- our synagogues must adapt or risk becoming ossified. Synagogue life is too important to be entrusted solely to those who already are within congregational walls. We must, emphatically, expand the notion of what a synagogue means. That's the path being blazed by the Union for Reform Judaism and others seeking to widen the embrace of Jewish life. Today, less than 50 percent of American Jews are synagogue members. The fastest growing group in the Jewish community is what we too often call the “the unaffiliated.” The term, of course, puts the onus on them. I prefer to call that group "the uninspired"; it’s our job to inspire and help them find their place in the Jewish community.”
Assembly Touts Camps’ Identity-Building Success – New Jersey Jewish News
“Reach Beyond the Bunk,” the fourth biennial Leaders Assembly of the Foundation for Jewish Camp, brought together educational leaders from each of Judaism’s major denominations: HUC-JIR’s Rabbi David Ellenson, YU’s Richard M. Joel, and JTS’s Arnold M. Eisen. Rabbi Ellenson said part of the problem in engaging Jewish youth is that the community has lost the “holistic” approach, with every part of life revolving around Judaism. “With modernity the world in which we live our lives has become divided and bifurcated,” he said. “Camps recreate that holistic way of Jewish life, which takes place 24 hours a day, seven day a week. It forms a Jewish identity that can’t be paralleled, and as these Jewish young people grow up…it can’t be replicated in any other part of life. Jewish camp is at the forefront of forging Jewish identity for our people.” Saying that “God embraced us as a covenantal people,” Ellenson added that he encourages support for camps for the benefit of “klal Yisrael extending beyond our movements.”
A Question of Belonging – The Wall Street Journal
"Pledges of Jewish Allegiances" by Rabbi David Ellenson and Rabbi Daniel Gordis surveys the most influential rabbinical legal opinions about conversion by Orthodox rabbis in Europe, the U.S. and Israel over the past 200 years. Jewish law (like American law) is grounded both in an essential text (the Torah instead of the Constitution) and in precedent. Thus Ellenson and Gordis begin with an analysis of classical Jewish sources about conversion (from the Bible and Talmud). They then turn to the legal opinions themselves and the facts and circumstances surrounding each case.
Who is Free – HUC-JIR’s Blog of Continuing Jewish Learning
As we look towards Pessach and the S’darim, HUC-JIR alumnus Rabbi Larry Bach asks us to think about the meaning of freedom. He writes, “At Kiddush time at our Seders, we will proclaim the days of Passover z’man cheruteinu, the ‘season of our freedom.’ And the question is, who belongs to that collective ‘our?’ Who is becoming free?”
HUC-JIR Soup Kitchen Teaches Volunteers the Meaning of “Betzelem Elohim” –
For the past 23 years, HUC-JIR/New York gets transformed on Monday afternoons into a rustic dining area with entertainment by a pianist so the needy in Manhattan can have a free, sit-down dinner. Rabbinical student Josh Beraha coaches student volunteers on making guests feel welcome and the meaning behind the Hebrew phrase, "betzelem elohim," loosely translated as "in the image of God." “Every person has within them some kind of godliness," Beraha tells students. "Every single one of you, and every single person to walk through the door."
Batya and Galia Sadan – Haaretz
Galia Sadan, a graduate of our Israel Rabbinical Program, now serves as the Secretary of the Reform Rabbinic Council in Israel.
HUC-JIR is proud of our accomplished faculty:
Rabbi Renni Altman, Associate Dean and Director of the Rabbinical Program, participated in the panel, “The Changing Attitudes of Rabbinical Students on Israel” at a conference with J Street Conference. Dr. Michael J. Cook, Bronstein Professor of Judeo-Christian Studies, will keynote an institute for Christian Clergy and serve as Scholar-in-Residence at Temple Sinai in South Burlington, VT from May 22-25, 2012.
Rabbi Yehoyada Amir, Ph.D., Associate Professor for Jewish Thought, recently published “Faith, Truth, and Reason: New Perspectives on Franz Rosenzweig’s Star of Redemption.” Click here for further information. Rabbi Nancy H. Wiener, D.Min., Director, Blaustein Center for Pastoral Counseling, served as a panelist during the session “Intersection of Health & Faith: Preparing Students to Address Public Health and Policy Issues” at the forum, “Intersection of Faith and Health: Fostering Partnerships to Improve Public Health Outcomes” at New York Theological Seminary on March 16, 2012. Wiener will participate in “Pastoral Care to Family Members and Loved Ones of GLBTQQ Individuals” during “Embodied Care,” a Yom Iyyun at The Jewish Theological Seminary on April 18.
Dr. Steven M. Cohen, Research Professor of Jewish Social Policy, participated in the panel, “The Changing Attitudes of Rabbinical Students on Israel” at a conference with J Street Conference. Rabbi Tali Zelkowicz, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Jewish Education and Professor Sara S. Lee Chair for an Emerging Scholar in Jewish Education, taught a session titled, "Audacious Assessment: Toward an Ethic of Jewish Educational Excellence, as a guest scholar for the Los Angeles BJE Principals' Council (March 22, 2012) at Stephen S. Wise Temple.
The Jews of Częstochowa Exhibition Opening: April 22 at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati
The groundbreaking exhibition The Jews of Częstochowa: Coexistence-Holocaust-Memory will open with a reception at the Skirball Museum on Sunday, April 22, at 5:30 pm. The exhibition, co-sponsored by HUC-JIR and The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education, is being presented in honor of Yom Hashoah.
Judaism and Health: A Transdiscliplinary and Cross-community Conversation: April 24 in Irvine, CA
The Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health is co-sponsoring a Judaism and health conference with the University of California Irvine's Jewish Studies program and its Program in Nursing and Science on Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at the University of California, Irvine.
“Max Ferguson: Painting My Father” Opening Reception: May 8 at HUC-JIR/New York
The HUC-JIR/New York Museum is pleased to host the opening reception for “Max Ferguson: Painting My Father” on May 8 from 6-8:30 pm. Photo ID required for admission. Please RSVP: or 212-824-2298. Presented by the Irma L. and Abram S. Croll Center for Jewish Learning and Culture at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.
Photo of the Week
On April 2, the HUC-JIR community came together to honor our beloved Jo Kay on the occasion of her retirement as Director of the New York School of Education. During the ceremony, Rabbi Shirley Idelson, Dean, and Shari Isserles, RJE, Chair of the NYSOE Alumni Association, presented Jo with the plaque that will appear outside of the new Jo Kay Educational Resource Center on the New York Campus.

Click here to read Jo’s speech.

Click here for a larger image.
Judaica Gallery
Renowned Judaica artist Steve Resnick’s Miriam Cup is made of etched clear glass cased with rose and includes symbols of water, used to depict Miriam and presence of women at the seder.

The Miriam Cup measures 7 1/4" high. $350, plus shipping and handling.

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

Click here for a larger image.

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