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June 27, 2013
Spotlight News In the Media Faculty Events Photo of the Week Judaica Gallery
The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation Awards $4.1 Million To Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation, headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio has awarded HUC-JIR $4.1 million to support the establishment of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Provost Chair and continued funding for the Mandel Initiative for Visionary Leadership. The new Chair, designated for HUC-JIR’s chief academic officer, will be held by Rabbi Michael Marmur, Ph.D., as of July 1, 2013. Dr. Marmur currently serves as Vice President for Academic Affairs at HUC-JIR. The Mandel Initiative for Visionary Leadership is designed to create a cadre of future rabbinical, cantorial, and education leaders who will guide 21st-century Reform institutions towards excellence in vision, learning, and Jewish identity formation.
HUC-JIR Graduation and Ordination Ceremonies 2013
  • New York Graduation and Ordination took place on Thursday, May 2, 2013 and Sunday, May 5, 2013, respectively. Arnold M. Eisen, Ph.D., Chancellor, The Jewish Theological Seminary, presented the New York Graduation address. Read Chancellor Eisen's address. Rabbi David M. Posner, Senior Rabbi, Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York, presented the Ordination address. Read Rabbi Posner's address.
  • Jack H. Skirball Campus/Los Angeles Ordination and Graduation took place on Sunday, May 19 and Monday, May 20, respectively. Rabbi Donald M. Goor presented the Ordination address. Read Rabbi Goor’s address. Mark Yudof, LL.B., President, University of California, presented the Graduation address. Read President Yudof’s address.
  • Cincinnati Ordination and Graduation took place on Saturday, June 8 and Sunday, June 9, respectively. Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Senior Vice President of the Union for Reform Judaism, presented the Ordination address. Read Rabbi Pesner’s address. Dr. David Ilan, Director, Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology, presented the Graduation address. Read Dr. Ilan’s address.
HUC-JIR Announces Tenure, Promotions, and Appointments
Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D., President, and Rabbi Michael Marmur, Ph.D., Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Provost Chair, have announced the following tenure, promotions, and appointments, effective July 1, 2013:

Faculty Tenure:
  • Dr. Jason Kalman, Associate Professor of Classical Hebrew Literature and Interpretation, has been granted tenure at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati.
  • Dr. Jonathan Krasner, Associate Professor of the American Jewish Experience, has been granted tenure at HUC-JIR/New York.
Faculty Promotion:
  • Dr. Wendy Zierler has been promoted to Full Professor of Modern Jewish Literature and Feminist Studies at HUC-JIR/New York.
Faculty Appointment:
  • Dr. Christine Neal Thomas has been appointed Visiting Assistant Professor of Bible & Cognate Languages at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati.
Administrative Promotion:
  • John Bruggeman has been promoted to Chief Technology Officer at HUC-JIR.
Administrative Appointment:
  • Abby S. Schwartz has been appointed Interim Director of the Skirball Museum at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati.
HUC-JIR Recruitment Update
HUC-JIR’s Recruitment and Admissions staff will be on the road all summer – in Israel, at conferences, and at camps. If you know someone who has expressed interest in learning more about one of HUC-JIR’s programs, or if you know someone who you think would make a great student, please let us know!
High School and College Leadership Programs at HUC-JIR
  • The Miller High School Honors Program – New York: Join other 11th and 12th grade students from the greater New York area to learn with our students, faculty, and leaders of the Reform Movement. Expand your Jewish knowledge and awareness of contemporary issues and develop your capacity as young leaders for your congregation and Reform Judaism.
  • High School and College Leadership Programs – Cincinnati: Join a select group of students from Jewish communities throughout the US as we explore topics relating to the American Jewish Experience. Take part in an incredible weekend of learning, skills building, and leadership development. Experience Judaism with HUC-JIR's world-renowned faculty, who will be leading discussions and workshops, and connect with other future leaders who share your interests and goals.
Ambassador Dennis Ross Briefing on "Israel, Syria, Iran and the Middle East" at HUC-JIR Benefit Breakfast
Over 200 guests attending the HUC-JIR Benefit Breakfast were addressed by Ambassador Dennis Ross in a briefing on “Israel, Syria, Iran, and the Middle East: The Challenge Ahead.” The event raised $178,500 in support of student needs and academic programs. It was co-chaired by Joy and Alan Greenberg, Marjorie and Morgan Miller, and Erica and Kevin Penn, and took place on June 13, 2013 at the Mandarin Oriental in New York. The Dr. Bernard Heller Foundation and its co-trustees, Ruth Freedlander, Carole Weidman, and Meredith Nussbaum, sponsored the event. Marjorie Miller and Kevin Penn are co-chairs of HUC-JIR’s Eastern Region Board of Overseers.
HUC-JIR’s Involvement with Jews in the Los Angeles Mosaic at the Autry
Bruce A. Phillips, Ph.D., Professor of Jewish Communal Service; Steven F. Windmueller, Ph.D., Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk Emeritus Professor of Jewish Communal Service; and Karen Wilson, Ph.D., alumna of our Edgar F. Magnin School of Graduate Studies, are involved in the new exhibition at the Autry in Griffith Park, Jews in the Los Angeles Mosaic, on view from May 10, 2013 – January 5, 2014. The exhibition explores how a growing Jewish community settled, prospered, and helped shape the economy, politics, and culture of a city – and how the diversity and dynamism of Los Angeles have transformed the local Jewish community for the past 160 years. Dr. Phillips is featured in a video in the exhibition about his father Bill Phillips, who owned Phillips’ Music Store in Boyle Heights. Watch Dr. Phillips' video.
HUC-JIR Students Chosen to Participate in T'ruah's Human Rights Programs
T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights is an organization of rabbis from all streams of Judaism that acts on the Jewish imperative to respect and protect the human rights of all people. HUC-JIR students Jason Fenster and Daniel Kirzane were chosen as two of the six rabbinical student fellows spending the summer with T’ruah in New York, working with human rights organizations and developing the skills to be human rights leaders. HUC-JIR students Joshua Mikutis and Elana Nemitoff were chosen as two of the four students spending the next academic year in Israel, taking part in a special leadership track of T’ruah’s Year-in-Israel Program, which gives future rabbis and cantors the chance to engage with human rights concerns that affect Israelis and Palestinians.
SJNM Student Rachelle Minteer Named 2013 PresenTenseLA Fellow
HUC-JIR School of Jewish Nonprofit Management student Rachelle Minteer was selected as a member of the inaugural class of PresenTenseLA: The Jewish Federation's Social Entrepreneur Fellowship. Minteer will work with Jewish Recovery Services, which provides resources for people in the Jewish community suffering from alcoholism, addiction, and co-occurring mental illnesses to seek help in Israel, giving them a profound experience in the Holy Land that energizes and propels them to delve deeper into their spiritual, religious, and community ties during the recovery process.
Dr. Michal Muszkat-Barkan Publishes "The Choice of Reform Rabbinical Studies in Israel and the Rabbinical Mission: Negotiating Tikun Olam and Personal Tikun"
Dr. Michal Muszkat-Barkan, Director of HUC-JIR/Jerusalem’s Department of Professional Development and Education, recently published "The Choice of Reform Rabbinical Studies in Israel and the Rabbinical Mission: Negotiating Tikun Olam and Personal Tikun" in the Journal of Jewish Education (Vol. 79, Issue 2, 2013). The goals of this study are to describe the motivations and aims of young Israelis for choosing Reform rabbinical studies and to explore how the Israeli and Reform contexts are manifested in students’ motivations and aims.
HUC-JIR Alumnus Mark Gurvis Appointed JFNA’s Executive Vice President
The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) recently announced that HUC-JIR School of Jewish Nonprofit Management (SJNM) alumnus and veteran Jewish Federation leader Mark Gurvis will become JFNA’s Executive Vice President. Gurvis graduated from HUC-JIR's SJNM (then the School of Jewish Communal Service) in 1984. Gurvis stated, "HUC-JIR's School of Jewish Communal Service provided a strong foundation for my career with the Jewish Federation movement. I have remained connected to the HUC-JIR community since my graduation, reflecting my appreciation for my experience there, and the importance I attach to the institution's role in training future Jewish communal professional leadership."
In the Media
Reform Movement Welcomes Ruling in Marriage Equality Cases – Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
In response to the Supreme Court's landmark ruling on marriage equality in the cases Windsor v. United States and Hollingsworth v. Perry, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism; Rabbi Steve Fox, Chief Executive of the Central Conference of American Rabbis; Rabbi Marla Feldman, Executive Director of Women of Reform Judaism; and Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; issued the following statement: "There is no more central tenet to our faith than the notion that all human beings are created in the image of the Divine, and, as such, entitled to equal treatment and equal opportunity. Many faith traditions, including Reform Judaism, celebrate and sanctify same-sex marriages. Thanks to the Court's decision, the federal government will now recognize these marriages as well, while still respecting the rights and views of those faith traditions that choose not to sanctify such marriages."
Updates from the Jim Joseph Foundation
  • What We Learned from Designing an Online Course: Rabbi Samuel K. Joseph, Ph.D., Eleanor Sinsheimer Distinguished Service Professor of Jewish Education and Leadership Development, and Dr. Adriane Leveen, Senior Lecturer in Hebrew Bible, write, “As part of an executive master’s degree at HUC-JIR, we designed a seven week long online, distance learning course, first offered in January 2011: Introduction to Jewish Educational Leadership. What did we learn from designing such a course? Technology can be an extraordinary asset! That statement comes from two professors who are 'technological immigrants' and had approached the technological dimension of the course with noticeable hesitation and some grumbling. Yet, aided by the skill and creativity of our educational technology specialists, we found ways to enrich and reinforce our goals in a variety of electronic formats.”
  • NRJE and CASJE: Laying the Foundation for Successful Jewish Education Research: At the Network for Research in Jewish Education conference, there was unprecedented activity around thinking together to build capacity in the doctoral training of researchers. At a meeting on “Advancing Doctoral Training in Jewish Education: A Group Inquiry,” participants took a “guided tour” of posters that described the requirements, dissertation topics, and graduate job placements for the Ph.D. or Ed.D. programs in Jewish Education at top universities, including HUC-JIR. One idea that emerged in this conversation was an interest in greater collaboration among graduate students and faculty across these institutions.
As a Reform Rabbi and Woman, I Celebrate my Orthodox Female Peers – Haaretz
Rabbi Jacqueline Koch Ellenson, HUC-JIR/NY ’83 and Director of the Women's Rabbinic Network, writes, “Rachel Kohl Finegold, Ruth Balinsky Friedman, and Abby Brown Scheier, the three women who were graduates of Yeshivat Mahara”t, were ordained. Three women who are Orthodox. Three women who will be working in Orthodox synagogues and communities are each called now ‘Manhiga hilchatit ruchanit v’Toranit’ or Mahara”t. As they were ordained, the women were each ‘found worthy and granted authority to teach and determine halachic rulings for the Jewish people, and has been ordained as a spiritual leader and a decisor of Jewish law.’ With these words, the three women were authorized to render halachic judgments for the community.”
Ritual and the Dangers of a Spiritual Life – Shalom Hartman Institute
Rabbi Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi, Ph.D., Incoming National Director of Admissions and Recruitment and President’s Scholar, states, “Ritual is a powerful human religious tool of communication between us and God. While it can bring us nearer to God when we perform it in normative traditional ways with proper intention, when we preform it without patience and proper understanding - regardless of the pressures on us to do otherwise - any angrily preformed ritual can also distance us from God. When we engage in ritual while we are angry and impatient, like Moses, refusing to hear and wait, then that spirit of anger and impatience will likely cause our untimely death. But when we take it seriously and focus spiritually on what higher goal the ritual enables us to reach, then ritual can give us new spiritual life and cleanse us in the most profound ways.”
As Institute Tackles Pressing Issues, Critics Say It Ignores Women’s Voices - JTA
Avinoam Bar-Yosef, Director-General of the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute, an Israel-based think-tank created by the Jewish Agency for Israel that engages in long-term strategic planning, decided to bring together the leaders of 15 major Jewish organizations. But now his attention has shifted from the agenda to the invite list — which is notable for its absence of women. Even some taking part in the event, such as David Ellenson, President, HUC-JIR, were troubled by the dearth of women. “Given that the gathering is so important in terms of the high profile and renown of the participants, as well as the themes and purposes of such a gathering, the omission of women constitutes a glaring gap. How can matters of Jewish identity, relations with Israel, the influence of Islam, etc., be discussed when half the Jewish community is not represented?”
Status Quo Expectations – Sh’ma
Dr. David Mendelsson, Director, Year-In-Israel Program at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem, writes, “The recent elections in Israel and the ensuing coalition negotiations have instated a government that, for the first time since 1994, does not include a Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) party. This much-trumpeted development has led pundits to predict dramatic changes to the so-called ‘status quo’ — the historic agreement between the Orthodox and secular sectors on matters of religion and state.”
A Linguist’s Take on the Knaidel/Kneydl Controversy – Jewish Journal
Dr. Sarah Benor, Associate Professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies, writes, “As a linguist who studies Yiddish-influenced English, I’ve had a busy week. As soon as Arvind Mahankali won the Scripps National Spelling Bee with the word ‘knaidel,’ the messages began to arrive. On facebook, through email, and in person, my friends, relatives, and colleagues wanted to know what I thought. As a linguist, I would have given ten possible spellings, explained what various spellings indicate about the people who write them, and then protested the English spelling bee’s use of loanwords from a language that does not use Latin script. Clearly, I would have lost.”
What’s So Hard About Research? – Scientific American
Jody Passanisi, HUC-JIR DeLeT Fellow and Mentor-Teacher, and Shara Peters, who received her teaching credential from HUC-JIR’s DeLeT program, write, “We are told that the students that we teach are ‘digital natives.’ This term implies that from the time they were born, technology has played such a large part in students’ lives that they know no other way. Also, it has been noted that digital natives have an aptitude for technology that is significantly different from the older generations. The assumption is that this new generation is simply better than us at technology. However, just because students are digital natives, does not mean that they have skills to figure out all technology, or to use technology in a purposeful way.”
Hartman Institute Names 27 to Fifth Rabbinic Leadership Initiative Cohort – eJewish Philanthropy
Eleven HUC-JIR alumni have been chosen to serve as members of the Shalom Hartman Institute’s fifth cohort of its Rabbinic Leadership Initiative. The three-year program of study, reflection, and professional development creates a community of rabbis uniquely able to disseminate the program’s pluralistic message to hundreds of thousands of families, and by doing so, transform the lives of Jews in North America. HUC-JIR alumni include: Justus Baird, James Bennett, Daniel Bogard, Paul Cohen, Shoshanah Conover, Edward Elkin, Shira Epstein, Linda Goodman, Tina Grimberg, Marion Lev-Cohen, and Eric Solomon.
A Memorial Day of Hope – Tablet Magazine
Cantor David Frommer, HUC-JIR/New York Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music 2011 alumnus, the first cantor ever to serve as a chaplain in the U.S. armed forces, writes, “One year ago this month, I gazed out the window of a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter, lifting off from Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. I was a third of the way through my first overseas deployment as a U.S. Army chaplain, and the novelty was definitely wearing thin. The training and anticipation during my nine-week pre-deployment mobilization at Camp Shelby, Miss., had rolled into an exhilarating first month in Afghanistan, but now I had landed in Kuwait, where the mission was a little less immediate. I didn’t have time to think about it as I struggled to learn the layout of a sprawling, unfamiliar post and worked to prepare a Shavuot program for its Jewish personnel. Once that program concluded, however, my thoughts turned to Memorial Day, which fell just one day after Shavuot in 2012.”
Cinema Judaica: The War Years – Part 1 Interview with the Author – CCAR Press
The CCAR Press recently published the ebook Cinema Judaica: The War Years in partnership with HUC-JIR Museum in New York, which organized the related exhibition. CCAR Press interviewed Ken Sutak, author, during which he stated, “Cinema Judaica is a term used by collectors of old movie memorabilia—usually paper artifacts of a promotional nature—related to the Jewish-themed films that were made prior to, say, Woody Allen’s. In this sense the term refers to these paper collectibles, which are perishable if not preserved, and in variable condition this far out from the dates of origin of the source films. Old movie posters are the prime example. Sometimes the term is used to refer to the source films themselves. I adopted the term as a brand name for two popular culture poster exhibits that I produced for the HUC-JIR Museum in New York during the Spring of 2007 and the Spring of 2008, on the subject of these films and their influence on contemporaneous American life.”
“Be Wise” Part One: Project Zug – HUC-JIR’s Student Blog, Meet Our Students
Ben Ross, a third-year rabbinical student at HUC-JIR/New York, participated in the Be Wise Entrepreneurial Grants Competition in celebration of the ninetieth anniversary of the founding of the Jewish Institute of Religion by Rabbi Stephen S. Wise and the Free Synagogue. Ross writes, “Rockets were falling in Israel, missiles were landing in Gaza. It was the fall of 2013, back in New York from our first year of school studying in Israel, and I was skyping with my Israeli friend Rivki. There was a cease fire in Israel between Israel and Hamas and I asked what was going on, ‘Was the country rallying behind Netanyahu or frustrated by his actions?’ Rivki responded, ‘Yes, everyone is behind him, total support. The left is furious because he attacked Gaza and the right is irate that he isn’t sending in troops.’ This is the conversation I was not privy to before living in Israel and becoming friends with Israelis. The messiness of the conversation is what makes Israel real for me and a place of hope and potential. Too often in the U.S. we are asked to choose a side, and not to connect with people. The Be Wise grant provided critical support for the pilot round of Project Zug, an initiative to connect Israeli and American Jews through hevruta.”
Doing Good Versus Doing Nothing – Avodat Hakodesh
Rabbi Stephanie Ruskay recently wrote for Avodat HaKodesh: A Journal of Sacred Service-Learning, HUC-JIR’s forum for exploring the theory and practice of sacred service-learning. Rabbi Ruskay writes, “I think the time is now for sustained local service corps. These would be cohorts of 10-15 people who each have a volunteering placement that they commit to for a minimum of one year. They serve independently each week. Once or twice per month, they gather as a cohort to share and process what they are experiencing, hold each other accountable for serving, do some Jewish learning or marking Jewish time together and learn about root causes of poverty and methods of social change. Through this program they will develop stronger bonds with each other, meet an actual need through their service (since big group projects are complicated and often not what is most needed), enrich their Jewish/spiritual lives, engage the Jewish community in regular service/justice work (which we want to be a communal norm), and develop a more sophisticated analysis around social justice.”
The Face of Judaism in America is Changing – HUC-JIR’s Blog of Continuing Alumni Education
Rabbi Ruth Abusch-Magder, Editor, HUC-JIR’s Blog of Continuing Jewish Learning, writes, “’The face of the Jewish community is changing,’ explained the TV announcer. Change is happening, but it should not be so surprising. Diversity is part of broad collective reality of Jewish life and has always been. More than ever it is also the general American reality. Increasingly it is also becoming an open part of the contemporary Jewish reality in the United States.”
Dr. Sarah Benor, Associate Professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies, presented “Distinctive Jewish Repertoires: A Research Agenda for Comparative Jewish Linguistic Analysis” as the keynote speaker at the “Variation Within and Across Jewish Languages” conference at the University of Antwerp Institute for Jewish Studies on June 28, 2013 in Antwerp, Belgium. Dr. Steven Windmueller, Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk Emeritus Professor of Jewish Communal Studies, served as the keynote speaker at the ADL Annual Meeting for their Los Angele on June 11, 2013. The presentation was based on his work for their national administration, on the occasion of their centennial celebration, entitled “ADL on the Occasion of its 100th Anniversary: Launching a Conversation.”
Dr. Jonathan Krasner, Associate Professor of the American Jewish Experience, presented “The Road to Lesbian and Gay Ordination in the Reform and Conservative Movements” on June 18 at the Union for Reform Judaism. Dr. Gary P. Zola, Executive Director of the American Jewish Archives at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati, will serve as the scholar-in-residence for the national conference of the American Conference of Cantors (ACC) in Minneapolis on July 1-3, 2013. Learn more. Dr. Zola will speak to The American Jewish Press Association at its annual convention in Seattle, July 25-27, 2013.
Dr. David Mendelsson, Director of the Year-In-Israel Program, received the award as outstanding lecturer of the undergraduate programme at Rothberg International School, Hebrew University, Jerusalem. He was chosen by the student body from the academic year 2012.
Book Launch for “Cinema Judaica: What We Saved, Salvaged, and Resurrected” – July 17 at HUC-JIR/New York
Join us for the book launch for “Cinema Judaica: The War Years, 1939-1949” on July 17 from 5:30-7:00 pm at HUC-JIR/New York. Author Ken Sutak will lecture on “Cinema Judaica: What We Saved, Salvaged and Resurrected” at 6:15 pm. RSVP and photo ID required. Please click here to RSVP.
The Sexuality Spectrum at the HUC-JIR/New York Museum
The Sexuality Spectrum, on view through June 28, 2013 at the HUC-JIR Museum in New York, offers a groundbreaking exploration of sexual orientation through the creativity of over fifty international contemporary artists. This exhibition explores a broad range of subjects, including the evolving social and religious attitudes toward sexuality; issues of alienation, marginalization, and inclusion; the impact on the family, child-rearing, and life stages; violence and persecution; AIDS/HIV; and the influence of the LGBTQI community on the Jewish and larger world.
Book Launch for Feminist Commentary of Babylonian Talmud – July 31 at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem
Join us at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem’s Abramov Library on July 31 to celebrate Rabbi Dr. Dalia Marx’s new book, Feminist Commentary of Babylonian Talmud: Tractates, Tamid, Midot, Kinim. Professor Tal Ilan, Freie Universitaet, Berlin, and Professor Yishai Rosenzvi, Tel Aviv University, will serve as guest speakers.
An Eternal People: The Jewish Experience at the Skirball Museum at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati
The ongoing exhibition, An Eternal People: The Jewish Experience, presents over 300 artifacts – artwork, textiles, decorative arts, jewelry, memorabilia and Near Eastern Antiquities – reliving and reflecting significant periods of the Jewish experience.
Photo of the Week
---- HUC-JIR students, faculty, and alumni gathered at Hava Nashira, the annual songleading and music workship, from May 28 - June 1 at URJ Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute in Oconomowoc, WI.

Click here for a larger image.
Judaica Gallery
---- Internationally renowned glass artist Steve Resnick handmade this pair of 8” optical crystal candlesticks, carved and sandblasted to evoke the skyline of Jerusalem. $500, plus shipping and handling.

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

Click here for a larger image.

3101 Clifton Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45220

13 King David Street
Jerusalem 94101, Israel

Los Angeles
Jack H. Skirball Campus
3077 University Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90007

New York
Brookdale Center
One West Fourth Street
New York, NY 10012


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