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August 09, 2012
Spotlight News In the Media Faculty Events Photo of the Week Judaica Gallery
Faculty Tenure, Promotions, and Administrative and Faculty Appointments
Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D., President, and Rabbi Michael Marmur, Ph.D., Vice President for Academic Affairs, have announced the following tenure appointments, promotions, and faculty and administrative appointments, effective July 1, 2012:

  • Dr. Sara Bunin Benor, Associate Professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies at HUC-JIR/Jack H. Skirball Campus/Los Angeles, has been awarded tenure.
  • Rabbi Haim Rechnitzer, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Modern Jewish Thought at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati, has been awarded tenure.
Promotions: Administrative Appointments:
  • Sheila Adler has been appointed Project Director of the Leadership Institute.
  • Rabbi Jan Katzew, Ph.D., has been appointed Director of Service Learning at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati.
  • Dr. Evie Rotstein has been appointed Director of the New York School of Education.
  • Dr. Michael Zeldin has been appointed Senior National Director of the Schools of Education.
Faculty Appointments:
  • Dr. Lynn Kaye has been appointed Assistant Professor of Rabbinics at HUC-JIR/Jack H. Skirball Campus/Los Angeles.
New Members Inducted onto Board of Governors
Three new members were inducted onto the Board of Governors at its meeting on June 25, 2012 in New York. Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D., President, stated, “We are honored to welcome:
  • Kenneth Gilman, a distinguished business leader of the New York community. His expertise and guidance will serve as a great source of assistance to the College-Institute. We look forward to his partnership in our shared mission to strengthen Reform Judaism and secure the Jewish future;
  • Kevin S. Penn, whose passionate commitment to his community and the wellbeing of the Jewish people is a source of inspiration. We look forward to his wisdom and guidance in advancing our mission in preparing rabbis, cantors, educators, Jewish nonprofit management professionals, and scholars to serve the North American Reform Movement, Israeli Progressive Movement, and world; and
  • John Stein, whose corporate leadership and devotion to the Jewish people are a source of strength as we advance our mission in preparing leadership for North American Jewry and providing dynamic educational and cultural outreach to the Cincinnati community."
VIDEO: The B’nai B’rith Archives Comes to the American Jewish Archives

B'nai B'rith International has transferred the contents of its archives and its Holocaust and Related Materials Archives to the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati. The expansive collection showcases not only B'nai B'rith's history but also momentous occasions in Jewish history dating back to 1700. The archive's thousands of manuscripts, charters, medals, letters, memorabilia, and other artifacts demonstrate changing societal needs from the needs of orphans to those of the elderly, from assistance to immigrants to the preservation of Jewish identity in an open society.

Learn more: Jewish Groups Must Preserve Vital Records – JTA
Alumni Shabbat at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem
Sixty HUC-JIR alumni gathered with our entering Year-in-Israel class on Shabbat afternoon, July 7, 2012, at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem for “Spirituality in Life and Work,” an afternoon of learning, discussion, and community. Rabbi Naamah Kelman, Dean, stated, “Our alumni gatherings now highlight key departments on the Jerusalem campus. This summer we are pleased to introduce our visiting alumni to the pathbreaking work of the Blaustein Center for Pastoral Counseling. For the first time, four Israeli students in our Mezorim Clinical Pastoral Care Program attended this exciting gathering. We were pleased to be able to expose our visiting alumni to the new professional tools we have developed for their work as pastoral counselors.”
DeLeT Alumnae Jody Passanisi and Shara Peters Published in Scientific American
“Could an online learning system replace a classroom? Yes, it could. Will it? Most definitely not.” Two DeLeT alumnae, Jody Passanisi and Shara Peters, recently published in Scientific American their thoughts on the continued value of the classroom teacher with the expanding role of technology in education. DeLeT is a trans-denominational program that prepares and credentials teachers for a specialized career in Jewish day schools, offered by the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at HUC-JIR with the generous support of the Jim Joseph Foundation.
Training for Schlichei Tzibur at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem
Eleven students, all members of various congregations throughout Israel, recently completed a new HUC-JIR program for training schlichei tzibur (congregational prayer leaders) who longed to acquire and perform these uniquely Jewish skills. Their year-long weekly program culminated in leading the mincha service at the recent biennial Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism gathering.
Grinspoon-Steinhardt Awards for Excellence in Jewish Education Awarded to Two Members of the HUC-JIR Community
The Grinspoon-Steinhardt Awards of Excellence in Jewish Education announced that two members of the HUC-JIR community, Cantor Miranda Kark Beckenstein, Coordinator of the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music Alumni Association, and Dr. Betsy Stone, Instructor of Pastoral Counseling, are recipients of the 2012 Grinspoon-Steinhardt Awards of Excellence in Jewish Education.
In the Media
Reform Movement Leaders Meet with Top White House Official – Religious Action Center
On July 19, Rabbi David Ellenson, President, and Irwin Engelman, Chairman, Board of Governors, and fellow Reform Movement leaders met with White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew. Among the domestic and international topics discussed were Israel's security and well being, the successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and ending employment discrimination against LGBT Americans. The meeting provided an opportunity to share with Chief of Staff Lew our Movement's top social justice priorities.
Laying the Groundwork for New Generations of Jews – Reform Judaism Blog
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President, Union for Reform Judaism, met with HUC-JIR students studying at the Jerusalem campus. Following his meeting, he stated, “Even as we fight for more rights, we are laying the groundwork for new generations of Jews. It was my meetings with young people that filled me with so much hope for our future. I spoke to the first-year class of rabbinic, cantorial, and education students at HUC-JIR in Jerusalem, where I also saw the next generation of Israeli-born Reform rabbis ready to face the challenges and opportunities before them.”
The Challenges of Teaching ‘Israel’ – Haaretz
Dr. David Mendelsson, Director of Israel Studies, writes, “Young Jewish leaders are shifting away from a Jewish identity focused on Israel, peoplehood, and community toward Jewishness as a personal spiritual journey, disconnected from the collective, unaware of the centrality of the land of Israel to Jewish history. Yet I can also attest that by the end of the Year-in-Israel program, the vast majority of our students are attached to Israel. Understanding this attachment will enable us to recast the teaching of Israel in a manner that acknowledges and addresses the shift in Jewish identity, rather than merely bemoaning it and expressing fear for the future.”
Nurturing Rabbis to Pursue Activism – The Jewish Week
Elana Rosen-Brown, an ordained cantor and rabbinical student at HUC-JIR/New York, won a spot in Rabbis for Human Rights-North America’s first class of rabbinical and cantorial fellows. The new program signals the increasing importance of Jewish activism — long a phenomenon of the foundation and nonprofit sector — in congregational life. “I want to learn how to act in solidarity as a Jewish community with other organizations outside the walls of the synagogue,” said Rosen-Brown, who is working at an East Harlem community organizing group, Community Voices Heard. She said she wanted to learn how to apply to a synagogue the techniques and structure of the East Harlem community organizing group she’s working at, where the leaders are also the members.
Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibit Unites Manuscripts with Cincinnati History –
Twenty ancient and priceless Dead Sea Scrolls are travelling from Israel to Cincinnati, and at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati, those scrolls will be welcomed like old friends. “This is a homecoming,” said Dr. Jonathan Cohen, Dean, HUC-JIR/Cincinnati. Through HUC-JIR, Cincinnati has been one of the world’s most important centers of Dead Sea Scrolls scholarship since shortly after their discovery. “The recognition of [the Scrolls’] survival against so many obstacles over a period of millennia is something so emotionally and spiritually powerful that it transcends academic and scholarly work. Any lay person can experience that when visiting the exhibit.”
US Jewry Faces Challenge as National Movements Decline – The Jewish Journal
Dr. Steven Windmueller, Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk Emeritus Professor of Jewish Communal Service, writes, “We are in the midst of one of the most significant downturns of traditional membership-based organizations in this country’s history. Unions, service clubs, membership organizations, and umbrella institutions are all reporting a decline in members and affiliates. Of particular importance is the marked decline in ideologically based social and religious movements. For the Jewish community, these declining numbers are particularly problematic, as we are witnessing a transformational change across the nation in the composition and structure of our institutions. The closing of synagogues, the merger of schools, the downsizing of national organizations and the retrenchment of personnel reflect the contemporary communal landscape. In the end, fewer Jews are supporting more of these core institutions.”

Read more from Dr. Steven Windmueller:
A Game Plan for Renewal: The Demise of National Movements and their Rebirth – eJewish Philanthropy
The Last One Hundred Days: Rhetoric,Money, and Target Constituencies - The Wind Report
Hate and Politics: How Anti-Semites Interpret the Contemporary Political Scene - The Wind Report
Origins of the “Jewish Vote” - The Wind Report
Jews as the New WASPS - The Wind Report
A Dialogue on Jewish Life in America Today – The Jewish Journal
Following the publication of the New York Jewish Population Study, Shmuel Rosner interviewed Steven M. Cohen, Research Professor of Jewish Social Policy. Rosner asks, “Enter the latest New York Jewish Population Study with its many details, and it seems to me that a new Jewish divide should be considered. The more affiliated, the less resources they have to support the high cost of Jewish life. Can this divide be bridged? Can we find a way to somehow overcome the seeming contradiction between affiliation and financial resources?”
Who Knows Who LA’s Jews Are? – The Jewish Journal
Los Angeles hasn’t done a Jewish community survey since 1997, and with nothing concrete in the works, there can be serious implications for how effectively a community responds to needs. “We need to know who lives where, what they do Jewishly, what diversity exists among Jews, what needs they have, what resources they have, and what they think on a variety of issues,” said Sarah Bunin Benor, Associate Professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies. Bruce Phillips, Professor of Sociology and Jewish Communal Studies, writes, “Synagogues call all the time, wanting to know where the Jews are moving. Are they moving into our area? Out of our area? Are we losing members because Jews are leaving this area, or for some other reason?”
How Did You Pray When You Were Younger? - Reform Judaism Blog
Rabbi Melissa Zalkin Stollman, MSW, MARE, Coordinator of the Certificate Program in Jewish Education for Adolescents and Emerging Adults, writes, “I had the opportunity to spend a morning with the URJ Kutz Camp’s Torah Corps major, which focuses on Jewish studies. The purpose of my being there was to participate in a ‘prayer interview’ conducted by the campers. They all had notebooks at the ready, prepared to copy down any insightful remarks I might offer regarding prayer, worship, or God. Some of the questions were ones you might have expected: ‘What does God mean to you?,’ ‘How do you pray?,’ and ‘Do you find it challenging to pray?’ The campers told me I was the first female rabbi they had met with this summer and asked me some questions about my journey to the rabbinate as well as my thoughts on egalitarianism and gender-neutral language. But the question that really struck me was, ‘How did you pray when you were younger, and how has that changed now?’”
More Reform Rabbis Agreeing to Officiate at Intermarriages - JTA
The Reform Movement continues to explore how best to respond to intermarriage. The Movement has “moved away from the debate of whether we should or should not officiate,” said Steven Fox, Chief Executive of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the rabbinic arm of the Reform movement that represents 1.5 million Reform Jews in North America. “It's part of the world we live in. The question is how do we engage these families into our synagogues,” he said.
Reform Movement Takes Aim at Post-B’nai Mitzvah Dropouts - jWeekly
Get ready for the B’nai Mitzvah Revolution. A project of HUC-JIR and the URJ, the “revolution” aims to empower synagogues to improve the quality of Jewish education in their communities, reduce the high rates of post-b’nai mitzvah dropout, and add depth and meaning to Jewish learning. The pilot cohort will learn together and share resources and ideas as it experiments with new approaches to b’nai mitzvah observance and preparation, and develops more effective models for learning Hebrew, kavannah (intentionality) in prayer, and other curricular areas.
Read more in the URJ’s Blog: You Say You Want a B’nai Mitzvah Revolution
Serious or Silly: Making Meaning from Jewish Superstitions – HUC-JIR’s Blog of Continuing Jewish Learning
Rabbi Emily Ilana Losben-Ostrov (HUC-JIR/Cincinnati ’08) writes, “Despite the fact that one of our central prayers—the Aleinu—reminds us to strive for the day when ‘superstition no longer blinds the mind,’ we, as Jews, have many, many superstitions. Do superstitions help heighten your sense of Jewish tradition? Or do they take away from the real business of Jewish life?”
Alumnus Evan Moffic Makes Chicago’s Double Chai in the Chi - OyChicago
Rabbi Evan Moffic (HUC-JIR/Cincinnati ’06) made Chicago’s first ever Jewish 36 under 36 list. His boundless energy, compassion for others, family values, dedication to social justice, and support of interfaith couples are just a few reasons for his Double Chai nomination. Rabbi Moffic leads Congregation Solel in Highland Park and he is one of the country's youngest senior rabbis in the Reform Movement. His scholarly works were published in a number of journals, newspapers, and magazines, and he frequently lectures at Jewish centers and synagogues around the country. He is on the Board of American Jewish Committee Chicago and the Chicago Area Reform Rabbis.
Board Members in the Media
HUC-JIR is proud of our accomplished faculty:
Rachel Ben-Dov, Archaeologist in the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology, published "The Mycenaean Pottery from the Occupation Levels at Tel Dan" in Gruber et. al (Eds), All the Wisdom of the East, Studies in Near Eastern Archaeology and History in Honor of Eliezer D. Oren, Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis 255, Fribourg 2012 pp. 57-85. Rabbi Bernard Mehlman, Lecturer in Homiletics, translated, annotated, and provided an historical introduction in the new ebook, The Way of Man According to Hasidic Teaching, with Dr. Gabriel Padawer.
Dr. Michael J. Cook, Bronstein Professor of Judeo-Christian Studies, was the featured scholar at the 30th Wildacres Interfaith Institute, sponsored by the Greater Carolinas Association of Rabbis, from July 30—August 2, 2012. This annual gathering brings together scholars, clergy, and laypersons from Christian, Jewish, and other faith traditions, to share insights about our traditions, our similarities, our differences, and our mutual concerns. Cantor Bruce Ruben, Ph.D., Director, Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music, received an online review of his new book, “Max Lilienthal: The Making of The American Rabbinate.”
Rabbi Reuven Firestone, Ph.D., Professor of Medieval Judaism and Islam, was the opening plenary speaker at the June 2012 Association of Jewish Libraries conference in Pasadena, CA, where he presented "Jews in the Koran, Jews on the Koran." Learn more. Rabbi Nancy H. Wiener, D.Min., Director of the Blaustein Center for Pastoral Counseling, who provides wonderful insight into pastoral care, both from the perspective of a congregational rabbi and a hospital chaplain. Listen to her interview with Voices of Pastoral Care.
The CCAR Journal Summer 2012 issue on Judaism, Health, and Healing was edited by Michele Prince, Director of the Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health, and Rabbi Nancy H. Wiener, D.Min., with articles by faculty and alumni. Learn more.
Edna Miron-Wapner's Soul Prints: On View at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem
Edna Miron-Wapner’s current exhibition "Soul Prints," on view through August 31 at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem, is intended to evoke spiritual truths and higher states of consciousness by fulfilling a deep need for purpose in her. She seeks to integrate the concepts of kavannah and tikkun with art as a transformative process, expressing not only beauty but also meaning in her art.
Murstein Synagogue at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem: 5773 / 2012-2013 Schedule
Shabbat services will be held at the Murstein Synagogue at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem throughout 5773. Shabbat morning services begin at 9:30 am. We invite you to join us.
Photo of the Week
---- Cohort 10 of the Day School Leadership through Teaching (DeLeT) Fellowship Program met for "Breakfast in the Community" in South Central Los Angeles. Fellows were joined by Dr. Michael Zeldin, Senior National Director of the Schools of Education, and Dr. Sharokky Hollie, Executive Director of The Center for Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning and instructor of the DeLeT course in Diversity. Learn more about the DeLeT program.

Click here for a larger image.
Judaica Gallery
---- From the studio of prominent Judaic textile artist Reeva Shaffer comes an elegant collection of hand-crocheted kippot for women. Kippot are beautifully adorned with feminine touches including beaded flowers, sequins, and lace.

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

Click here for a larger image.

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