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Hebrew Union College: Wikis


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Hebrew Union College campus in Jerusalem
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
Established 1875
Type Private
President Rabbi David Ellenson
Location Cincinnati, New York City, Los Angeles, Jerusalem
Affiliations Reform Judaism

Union for Reform Judaism

Central Conference of American Rabbis
HUC Greenwich Village, New York

The Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (also known as HUC, HUC-JIR, and The College-Institute) is the oldest Jewish seminary in the Americas and the main seminary for training rabbis, cantors, educators and communal workers in Reform Judaism.

HUC-JIR has campuses in Cincinnati, New York, Los Angeles and Jerusalem.

The Jerusalem campus is the only seminary in Israel for training Reform Jewish clergy.



HUC was founded in 1875 under the leadership of Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise in Cincinnati, Ohio. A second campus in New York City was created through a merger with the rival Reform Jewish Institute of Religion in 1950 and additional campuses were added in Los Angeles, California, in 1954 and Jerusalem in 1963. [1]

As of 2009, the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is an international seminary and university of graduate studies offering a wide variety of academic and professional programs. In addition to its Rabbinical School, the College-Institute includes Schools of Graduate Studies, Education, Jewish Communal Service, sacred music, Biblical archaeology and an Israeli rabbinical program. [2]

The Los Angeles campus operates many of its programs and degrees in cooperation with the neighboring University of Southern California, a partnership that has lasted over 35 years. [3]

Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk was appointed as HUC's sixth president, following the death of Nelson Glueck. As president, Gottschalk oversaw the growth and expansion of the HUC campuses, the ordination of Sally Priesand as the first woman Rabbi in the United States, as well as the investiture of reform Judaism's first woman hazzan and the ordination of Naamah Kelman as the first woman rabbi in Israel.[4]

Notable faculty

Notable faculty members have included Judah Magnes, who was also the founding chancellor and president of Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Nelson Glueck, Moses Buttenweiser, Eugene Borowitz, Jacob Z. Lauterbach, Lawrence Hoffman, Steven M. Cohen and Debbie Friedman.

Notable graduates

The School of Sacred Music

The School of Sacred Music of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion was founded in 1947. The SSM is located on the New York campus of HUC-JIR at One West Fourth Street. The SSM offers a five-year graduate program, conferring the degree of Master of Sacred Music in the fourth year and investiture as cantor in the fifth year.

Cantorial School at HUC-JIR begins in Jerusalem and continues for the next four years in New York. While in Israel, students are immersed in a year of learning Hebrew, exploring Jewish music and getting to know the Land and People of Israel. Cantorial students form bonds with their future colleagues as they study alongside Rabbinical and Education students. In New York, Cantorial students balance life as a full-time student with professional learning opportunities as a student-cantor. Students serve congregations within and outside of the NY area on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis.

The Curriculum includes liturgical music classes covering traditional Shabbat, High Holiday and Festival nusach, Chorus, Musicology, Reform Liturgy and Composition; Judaica and text classes such as Bible, Midrash and History; and professional development. Each student is assigned practica (mini-recitals) during the 2nd, 3rd and 4th year of school culminating with a Senior Recital (based on a thesis) during the 5th year.

The contemporary cantor’s role is diverse and includes pastoral care; officiating at lifecycle events; teaching adults and children; developing interpersonal skills; and creating and presenting cultural programs appropriate to Jewish life. Cantors engage and inspire others in the act of worship, forming a link in a chain of tradition. Cantorial students come from a variety of backgrounds--opera, musical theater, songleading, computers, teaching, music administration, etc.--yet all have a common love of music and Judaism. As potential members of the clergy, excellent candidates for admission will have a strong musical background including vocal training, musicianship, sight-reading and sight-singing. As a future Jewish leader, candidates will possess a strong connection to the Jewish community and be involved in Jewish learning as an adult. The five-year program is a time of tremendous growth and development as a singer, committed Jew and future member of the clergy. The School of Sacred Music’s faculty prides itself on providing students with both the tools needed to be a Cantor, and the opportunity to find their own connection to this profound ancient profession. [5]

Gender equality and HUC

In keeping with the tradition of gender equality in Reform Judaism, HUC has both male and female students in all its programs, including rabbinic and cantorial studies. Since its founding, the College-Institute has ordained over 2,800 rabbis and over 400 cantors. As of 2007, 520 ordained rabbis and 179 invested cantors have been women. [6] (See Women and the rabbinical credential).


The HUC library system contains one of the most extensive Jewish collections in the world with close to a million volumes on the four campuses. The collection includes 150 incunabula (the earliest printed books), more than 2,000 manuscript codices, and many thousands of pages of archival documents. Special collections include Jewish Americana, music, an outstanding Spinoza collection, and extensive microforms. It also houses the American Jewish Periodical Center, which preserves American Jewish periodicals and newspapers on microfilm.

The three U.S. campuses share a catalog The Jerusalem catalog is separate.

Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Museum

The HUC-JIR Museum includes the Petrie Great Hall, Klingenstein Rare Book Room, Chaim and Rivka Heller Archives Gallery, Joseph Gallery, and Backman Gallery. The museum presents exhibitions highlighting Jewish history, culture, and contemporary creativity.[7]

The Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion also manages the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles and Skirball Museum in Jerusalem.


External links



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