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emails from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

June 21, 2012
Spotlight News In the Media Faculty Events Photo of the Week Judaica Gallery
Rabbi Rick Jacobs (HUC-JIR/New York ’82) Installed as URJ President
Rabbi Rick Jacobs Takes Reins as URJ President In his formal installation as President of the Union for Reform Judaism, Rabbi Rick Jacobs called on the movement to “chart a new course.” His installation took place on June 9 at Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn. Rabbi Jacobs, 56, urged the movement to “create a robust presence in digital media, on campus, across town and around the world, so that all who are hungry for inspiring spirituality, passionate prayer, probing study, and social justice can find their way to us.” Read Rabbi Jacobs’ Installation Sermon.

Read “Catalyst for Change,” an interview with Rabbi Jacobs in the Summer 2012 issue of Reform Judaism Magazine. Rabbi Jacobs reflects on his formative experiences, the lessons he has learned about personal and synagogue transformation, his vision for the future of the URJ and the Reform Movement, and his determination to surmount the monumental challenges on the road ahead.

Rabbi Jacobs is meeting with Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres for the first time as the leader of our Movement and he wants to communicate the issues that matter most to our community. Read more or submit your questions to these leaders.
Reform Judaism Magazine Summer 2012
Reform Judaism Magazine Summer 2012 The God Survey: Rabbi Mark Dov Shapiro (HUC-JIR/Cincinnati ’77) writes, “Does God exist? What does God do or not do? Last Yom Kippur I sent a survey to my congregants at Sinai Temple in Springfield, MA, to find out what they believe. The results surprised me.” What do you believe about God? How do your beliefs compare with others in the Reform Movement? Be counted. Take the survey.

Israel: Transcending Walls in Tel Aviv: Rabbi Meir Azari (HUC-JIR/Jerusalem ’92) discusses how the free-for-service models at The Daniel Centers for Progressive Judaism might be applied to URJ congregations.

Conviction with Compassion: Rabbi Arnold S. Gluck (HUC-JIR/New York ’83) reflects on what Judaism can teach us about learning to respect and care for those with whom we profoundly disagree.

R.E.S.P.E.C.T.: Rabbi Edythe Mencher (HUC-JIR/New York ’99) and Dr. Dale Atkins explore how, when we assert ourselves respectfully while avoiding the temptation to act unkindly towards others, no one is diminished as a human being.
Jewish Community Study of New York: 2011
UJA-Federation of New York presents the findings from the Jewish Community Study of New York: 2011, a comprehensive study of the world’s largest and most diverse Jewish community outside Israel. Dr. Steven M. Cohen, Research Professor of Jewish Social Policy at HUC-JIR, served as the director of research for the study and co-author. With 5,993 interviews — more than any other local or national Jewish community study — the findings and implications are vast. The New York Jewish community in 2011 is large, growing, and incredibly diverse. Children, boomers, and seniors. Poor and affluent Jews. Lifelong New Yorkers, and immigrants from such diverse national origins as Russia and Israel. LGBT Jews. Hispanic and biracial households. Chasidic, Conservative, Modern Orthodox, Reconstructionist, Reform, and Yeshivish Jews. Jews who are nondenominational, have no religion or another religion, or who consider themselves partially Jewish. All these and more are strong threads in the fabric of the New York Jewish community.
Rabbi Naamah Kelman’s Address at the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism Biennial
Rabbi Naamah Kelman, Dean, HUC-JIR/Jerusalem Rabbi Naamah Kelman, Dean, HUC-JIR/Jerusalem, presented the address at the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism Biennial in honor of 40 years of women’s ordination and 25 years of the Ganei Haim preschool. She stated, “In Israel, I searched for the Jewish society in which I could realize the democratic social values of equality and justice I had absorbed in America. When I arrived, socialist democratic principles were still the dominant ideology in Israel. I was excited about joining this wonderful experiment. Israeli society was still modest, the gaps between rich and poor were bearable, and there was a great spirit of solidarity. As a religious person, I believed in the revolutionary forces of Jewish tradition, fueled by the noble idea that every human being is created in God’s image.”
Rabbi Reuven Firestone’s New Book: “Holy War in Judaism: The Fall and Rise of a Controversial Idea”
Rabbi Reuven Firestone’s New Book: Holy War in Judaism: The Fall and Rise of a Controversial Idea Rabbi Reuven Firestone, Ph.D., Professor of Medieval Judaism and Islam, recently published “Holy War in Judaism: The Fall and Rise of a Controversial Idea,” the first book to consider how the concept of "holy war" disappeared from Jewish thought for almost 2000 years, only to reemerge with renewed vigor in modern times. Firestone identifies, analyzes, and explains the historical, conceptual, and intellectual processes that revived holy war ideas in modern Judaism. The book serves as a case study of the way in which one ancient religious concept, once deemed irrelevant or even dangerous, was successfully revived in order to fill a pressing contemporary need. It also helps to clarify the current political and religious situation in relation to war and peace in Israel and the Middle East.
Rabbi Stephen M. Passamaneck’s New Book Translating “The Laws of Evidence”
Rabbi Stephen M. Passamaneck, Professor Emeritus of Rabbinic Literature at HUC-JIR’s Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles, has written a book translating The Laws of Evidence. Published by Deborah Charles Publications, it features Shulhan ‘Arukh Hoshen Mishpat, Hikhoth ‘Eduth, part of a larger digest of Jewish law and practice that dates back to the 16th Century.
News from the Louchheim School for Judaic Studies
Alumni of the Louchheim School for Judaic Studies are making news! Janna Bernstein, a recent alumna of the school, is the first NASPA (USC’s national organization for student affairs) Undergraduate Fellow. Learn more about Janna. Jacqui, another Louchheim graduate who studied with Dr. Sharon Gillerman, Associate Professor of Jewish History, moved to Israel and joined the IDF. Learn more about Jacqui.
In the Media
Framing the American Jewish Economy: Insights and Reflections – eJewish Philanthropy
Dr. Steven Windmueller on the American Jewish Economy Steven Windmueller, Ph.D., Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk Emeritus Professor of Jewish Communal Service, writes, “The American Jewish community represents one of the largest religious/ethnic nonprofit economic centers within this nation, second only to the Roman Catholic Church in terms of its breath and impact. This economic enterprise needs to be understood as contributing not only to the sustaining of Judaism and the Jewish people within the United States but as a significant contributor to the larger society.”
See also:
How Adaptable is the Jewish Community in Managing Change?
The 'Kosher Burrito' Can Get Messy
The B’nai Mitzvah Revolution – The Jewish Week
As a result of several years of serious discussion and research within the Movement, an ambitious new project to revolutionize the bar and bat mitzvah ceremony is about to be launched through the joint efforts of HUC-JIR and the URJ’s Campaign for Youth Engagement. The goal of the new project is to create more engaging ways to mark a bar or bat mitzvah for the youngster and his or her family, teach Hebrew as a living language, and add a spiritual component to learning prayers.
Temple and Mosque Collaboration Seeks to Become a National Interfaith Model – South California Public Radio
Rabbi Sarah Bassin (HUC-JIR/Los Angeles ’11), Executive Director, New Ground: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change, believes in the need for greater Jewish and Muslim dialogue. From her perspective, it’s a no-brainer. “A lot of the way the fight against Islamophobia has been framed for communities outside of the Muslim community is, that’s the right thing to do," says Bassin. "And that’s true. I think it’s also important to speak to that added element of self-interest. It’s not just this altruism, that we’re reaching out and saying this is an issue that needs to be addressed: It’s an issue of self-protection, right?” Self-protection, the idea of defending one’s beliefs and religious identity, is only one of the many issues taken on by a project called NewGround.
All My Bags Are Packed: Cantors Go To Camp – American Conference of Cantors
Cantor Bradley Hyman (HUC-JIR/New York ’00) writes, “Being a presence at camp is vital if there are to be future cantors who possess the kind of skills that are gained though informal settings and education. Between the dedicated staff of people, the visiting staff of people, and the kids who both need and deserve these experiences, the broader understanding of what it means to be Jewish is both preserved and shaped.”
Proud to be Out and Jewish: Celebrating Pride Month – HUC-JIR Alumni Blog
Adar, Ruth Rabbi Ruth Adar (HUC-JIR/Los Angeles ‘08) writes, “I am happy to say that while I was at HUC-JIR, I never felt that anyone on faculty or in the student body consciously slighted me on account of my orientation. I was proud to attend classes in the building that houses the Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation. There is still plenty of work to do in the Reform Jewish world, but at least at school I felt welcome. I owe my good experience to the pioneers who went before me: men and women who did the heavy lifting, who out of love for Torah and a sense of destiny persisted in pursuing this sacred work during the years when the Movement was not yet ready for us.”
VIDEO: Artist Max Ferguson on "Today in New York"
Artist Max Ferguson on Today in New York In celebration of Father's Day, Max Ferguson appeared on "Today in New York" for an interview about his solo show "Painting My Father," on view at the HUC-JIR Museum in New York through June 29. Max Ferguson offers 30 years of realist snapshots that capture his father as he was, and as he wished him to be — all against a backdrop of a fading midcentury New York.
HUC-JIR is proud of our accomplished faculty:
Rabbi Yehoyada Amir, Ph.D., Professor of Modern Jewish Thought, recently published three articles:

(German) "Das Ende der Galut?: Eine Untersuchung zur jüdischen religiösen Philosophie des 19. Jahrhunderts", in: Tanja Pilger & Markus Witte (eds.), Mazel tov; Interdisziplinäre Beiträge zum Verhältnis von Christentum und Judentum: Festschrift anlässlich des 50. Geburtstages des Instituts Kirche und Judentum, Leipzig: Studien Kirche und Israel; Neue Folge, 2012, pp. 229–245

(English) “Beshalch: 'The Kingdom of Heaven' in the Thought of Spinoza, Mendelssohn and Buber”, in: Naftali Rothenberg (ed.), The Weekly Torah Portion as an Inspiration for Thought and Creativity, English: Shmuel Sermoneta Gertel, NY: Yeshiva University Press & the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, 2012, pp. 195–204

(English) “Yitro: Scripture and Life; on Rosenzweig's Concept of Torah", ibid, pp. 205–212

Learn more in Rabbi Amir’s blog.
Rabbi Reuven Firestone, Ph.D., Professor of Medieval Judaism and Islam, gave the keynote at the opening of the 2012 Association of Jewish Libraries Convention in Pasadena, CA. Click here for further information.
Rabbi Nancy H. Wiener, D.Min., Director, Blaustein Center for Pastoral Counseling, with Rabbi Mychal B. Springer, Director, Center for Pastoral Education, The Jewish Theological Seminary, and Barbara Breitman, CSW, D.Min., Instructor of Pastoral Care, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, hosted a two-day Master Class: Explorations in Jewish Pastoral Theology at the Blaustein Center on May 15-16. Each of them invited one rabbi who graduated from each of the seminaries to present a pastoral case and explore the theological issues that emerged for a congregant and for themselves. Through discussion, role play, and reflection, the participants and leaders participated in a unique learning opportunity that served as a catalyst for serious theological reflection.
Hebrew Ulpan Opportunity – July-September 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.
Summer Learning Institute with the Union for Reform Judaism – August 8-12 at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati
The Summer Learning Institute brings together adult Jewish learners to experience in-depth study, spiritual renewal and personal growth. Deepen your knowledge and learn techniques in one of three areas of congregational life: engaging in serious Jewish study, welcoming interfaith couples and families into your community, and facilitating and supporting worship and life cycle rituals.
DeLeT Rav Siach and Tenth Anniversary Celebration – July 19 at HUC-JIR’s Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles
Join us in a colloquium on education and a celebration of DeLeT – Day School Leadership through Teaching – at DeLeT’s Rav Siach, “Negotiating Dilemmas of Teaching” and celebration of DeLeT’s tenth anniversary on Thursday, June 19 from 1:00-5:30 pm at our Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles. Contact with questions.
NFTY Songleading Institute for Teens – August 24-26 at URJ Kutz Camp in Warwick, NY
Join the NFTY Songleading Institute for Teens from August 24-26 at URJ Kutz Camp in Warnick, NY, for a weekend of training, skill development, and hands on learning that will equip teens to songlead in their temple, religious school, and youth group.
Mifgash Musicale: A Musical Happening for Synagogue Musicians – July 22-26 at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati
Join us at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati on July 22-26 for Mifgash Musicale, a summer institute for synagogue musicians of all types. A joint program of the URJ and HUC-JIR in conjunction with the ACC and the Guild of Temple Musicians, Mifgash Musicale is designed for people who want to engage in more in-depth study of a variety of subjects relevant to leading musical worship.
Marlene Louchheim’s “Commitment – Gathering Sparks” On View at the Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles
Marlene Louchheim’s sculptures are about more than replicating large-scale burlap sacks using a variety of metals. Her art pieces talk to each other – about love, about distance, about fear and tenderness. Above all, perhaps, they talk about commitment and the need to heal the world. “Commitment – Gathering Sparks,” on view through May 31, 2013 at HUC-JIR’s Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles, features four of her works.
Photo of the Week
The Leadership Institute’s Summer Seminar titled Lilmod Ul’lamed: Teaching, Learning and Change Leadership is currently taking place at HUC-JIR/New York. The seminar provides a variety of opportunities for our participants’ to explore their leadership role in both creating curriculum innovation and building meaningful learning experiences.  Participants will address topics such as Embedding Texts in Professional Learning with Dr. Barry Holtz, JTS; Starting with the Learners Question with Dr. Jen Glaser, Mandel Leadership Institute, Jerusalem; Professional Learning Design with Dr. Evie Rotstein, Leadership Institute; Creating Experiences with Impact with Dr. Jeff Kress, JTS; The Power of Music with Merri Lovinger Arian, HUC-JIR; Curriculum Design with Soul with Cyd Weisman, The Jewish Education Project; as well as Inclusion and Special Education with Dori Frumin Kirshner, Matan and LI participants Lisa Friedman and Felice Miller Baritz.

Click here for a larger image.
Judaica Gallery
Create your own Yad with the elements included in this uniquely conceived packed kit. Designed by Gail Rosenbloom Kaplan, each set includes a silver pointer, a central supportive rod, diverse beads of glass, and a gold plated brass and/or silver closing cap for the top. The finished length of this easily assembled Yad measures 8" and includes an optional chain. Colors include blue, multi, amber, red.

$45.00, plus shipping and handling.

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

Click here for a larger image.

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