November 2, 2009

Today, the board of directors of Hebrew Union College met in Cincinnati and voted by an overwhelming majority to keep all four campuses open.

We don’t have too much more information at the moment, except that there has been quite a bit of relief expressed.

We would like to thank you, the more than 10,000 people who visited us for information over the past few months.  Your voices (and emails and letters) were heard!

..more as it develops.

An opportunity to support HUC

October 13, 2009

Originally from Gary Zola – Director of the American Jewish Archives:

I am writing today to urge you to attend a very special program in the life of the College-Institute here in Cincinnati.

You may have already heard that HUC is planning a major celebratory reception for the greater Cincinnati community on the occasion of the rededication of its world famous Klau Library.  This event will be a dessert reception, held at the Jewish Community Center (Amberley) on Sunday evening, November 1, 2009. The evening will begin at 7:30 p.m. and we are planning to conclude by 8:45 p.m.

In addition to rededicating the Klau Library, we will also mark the beginning of the school’s 135th year of historic presence in Cincinnati.

All of us at HUC are honored that Dr. Gregory Williams, the new president of the University of Cincinnati has agreed to serve as the keynote speaker for this event.  November 1st is actually Dr. Williams’s very first day on the job!  He will be speaking, of course, about the historical relationship that has united the Hebrew Union College and the University of Cincinnati – past, present, and future!

You may also be interested in knowing that there will be approximately 50 out-of-town guests at this dessert reception:  the Board of Governors — the school’s governing body — will be present.  They will be in Cincinnati for a special meeting of the Board and, of course, to attend the rededication of the Klau Library.  At the meeting, the Governors will, hopefully, vote to adopt a plan which commits itself to preserving the future of the Cincinnati campus.

The Board of Governors comes to Cincinnati only once a year (and sometimes even less frequently).  These meetings typically take place on the school’s campus, and the Governors rarely have an opportunity to meet the greater Cincinnati community.  Last April, many Governors received calls and letters from Cincinnatians who were concerned about the school’s future.  These communications declared that Cincinnati was immovably committed to HUC’s future in Cincinnati.  On November 1, these Governors will have a rare opportunity to experience these sentiments for themselves!

I am sure you can understand that if our school’s Governors see a large and enthusiastic crowd of HUC supporters at the JCC on November 1, they will experience a tangible demonstration of the community’s interest in and commitment to the College-Institute.  In this respect, you truly have a historic opportunity to help the College — simply by attending this special reception.

I hope you will agree to attend this historic dessert reception on November 1.  The event is complimentary, and there will be no solicitation.

In order to insure that we have enough dessert for all those present, would you please RSVP so we can plan accordingly.  To RSVP, please E-mail Phyllis Volan ( or call Phyllis Volan (513-487-3032).

I thank you very much – in advance – for your help and support.  I look forward to seeing you on November 1.

Update: Campuses To Stay Open?

June 24, 2009

According to a story in the Cincinnati Enquirer today,  the board decided last night to keep all four campuses open.

The story continues that all four campuses will continue to recruit.  While this is certainly welcome news, we would like to know how, if the financial crisis was grave enough to suggest closing campuses in the first place, HUC plans on cutting costs.

The full article is available here

Post Board Meeting Update: School of Communal Service Safe For Now

June 24, 2009

While, as usual, publicly available details are scant, we have learned through a variety of sources that the Jewish School of Communal Service in Los Angeles will not be suspending admissions.

An interesting side development is that the director of development in Cincinnati was recently let go.  Although we have not been able to confirm details, it seems strange that at the moment that Cincinnati needs a director of development the most, there would be no one in that post.

Source for this update

Showdown Time at HUC

June 18, 2009

Note: This story is being quoted from eJewish Philanthropy

Jerusalem is not the only place where significant decisions will be made next week. In New York, the Board of Governors of the Hebrew Union College will be meeting to consider a significant re-organization of the school. Passions have been running high for months (you can find various articles here). The amount of official information available is basically nil. The College, like so many organizations, has still not realized the story does not disappear by putting ones head in the sand. And, they have certainly not paid attention to the fact this allows everyone else to frame the discussion for them.

We understand that while there is a general understanding of the need to cut expenses, the feeling seems to be ‘not in my backyard’. As a result, some ‘tuned-in’ observers expect deadlock with the result the status-quo remains.

One item apparently under serious discussion, concerns the School of Jewish Communal Service in Los Angeles. That is, a recommendation admissions for the academic year 2010-11 be suspended. This is tantamount to closing the school – the only program of it’s caliber on the West Coast.

As a result, a group of concerned alumni and supporters is mounting a one-on-one campaign to enlist Board members to pass the following resolution:

“Given that the SJCS uniquely fills the college’s mission of “preparing professional Jewish leadership for the Jewish People” (from President David Ellenson’s “A New Way Forward for HUC-JIR,” June 15, 2009), and

Given that the SJCS no longer draws any monies from the HUC-JIR General Scholarship Funds, and

Given that the SJCS is projected to be financially self-sustaining, with net surplus revenues, by the end of fiscal 2010-2011, and

Given that the SJCS strategic plan specifically addresses the professional needs of the Reform movement, as well as the broader Jewish community, and

Given that before it votes on the future of the SJCS, the Board of Governors has a responsibility to review the new SJCS strategic plan and understand the SJCS’ current fiscal status, its plans for financial sustainability, and its programmatic objectives:


  • To authorize the continued operation of the School of Jewish Communal Service through the 2010-2011 academic year. Since tuition revenue is central to the school’s plan for self-sufficiency, the SJCS will be allowed to recruit for a new class to enter in Summer 2010.
  • To invite representatives of the School of Jewish Communal Service to present the new strategic plan at the next full meeting of the Board of Governors so as to better understand and recognize the unique mission, vision and values of the SJCS; the plan for financial development and self-sustainability of the school; and how SJCS supports and augments the programs of the other HUC-JIR graduate professional programs, and the school’s responsiveness to the professional needs of the Reform Movement, as well as of the broader Jewish community.”

Below is a list of the Board of Governors; twenty-eight votes are needed to pass the resolution.

HUC-JIR Board of Governors

Non-LA Governors (need at least 10)

Patty Beck Boca Raton, FL
Andrew Berger Cincinnati, OH
Mark Biderman NYC
Martin Cohen NYC
Irwin Engelman NYC
Donald Friend SF, CA
John Golden NYC
Norman Gross NYC
Prof. David Harman Jerusalem
Robin Harvey Cincinnati, OH
Robert Heller NYC
Frances Hess NYC
Peter Joseph NYC
Sheila Lambert NYC
Frederic Lane Chicago, IL
Burton Lehman NYC
Jerome Lerner Cincinnati, OH
Alvin Lipson Cincinnati, OH
Michael Lorge Skokie, IL
Marjorie Miller Scarsdale, NY
Samuel Perelson NYC
Joan Pines Highland Park, IL
Stanley Rabin Dallas, TX
Richard Ravitch NYC
Terry Rosenberg Boston area
Elizabeth Scheuer NYC
Rosanne Selfon Lancaster, PA
Evely Laser Shlensky Santa Barbara, CA
Sara Crown Star Chicago, IL
Nicki Tanner NYC
Bonnie Tisch NYC
Peter Weidhorn Manalapan, NJ
William Weprin Highland Beach, FL

LA Overseer Governors

Leslie Bider
Robin Broidy
Jay Geller
Stanley Gold
Sue Neuman Hochberg
Robert Kopple
Ken Ruby

Alumni Governors

Cantor Dana Anesi Chappaqua, NY
Rabbi Jerome Davidson Great Neck, NY
Rabbi Ellen Dreyfus Chicago area
Rabbi David Gelfand NYC
Rabbi Leslie Gutterman Providence, RI
Rabbi Nancy Kasten Dallas, TX
Rabbi David Posner NYC
Rabbi Amy Schwartzman Falls Church, VA
Rabbi Barton Shallat NYC
Julie Vanek West Newton, MA
Rabbi Irwin Zeplowitz Pt. Washington, NY

Possible Outcomes

May 12, 2009

There has been almost no new details to emerge.  Anecdotally, a certain number of the Cincinnati are taking the decision for granted.  Between the frenzy around ordination (in particular around Alyssa Stanton, to whom we wish Mazal Tov), and relative lack of interest in the news media, we are all pretty much in the dark.  If any one has media contacts, please try to reclaim some of the buzz.  In the midst of this historic ordination, there will be a dark cloud floating overhead.  

Please continue to encourage your friends to write letters and gather media coverage of the HUC situation.

If you can, please make an online donation to help Hebrew Union College maintain its ability to educate and create the future of the Reform Movement.

The Board Speaks

May 5, 2009

Below find the transcript of HUC’s press release offering a commitment to the three campuses:

The Board of Governors of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion met in New York on Monday, May 4th, 2009.  There was a discussion of many constructive approaches to resolving HUC-JIR’s financial issues.  The Board decided that the restructuring plan would proceed on three principles:

·       Financial sustainability

·       Academic integrity of programs and excellence of faculty and students

·       Service to the Reform Movement, Klal Yisrael, Israel, and world Jewry

The Board has charged the administration to devise a plan that will attain financial sustainability and enhance our academic excellence while preserving our presence in Cincinnati, Los Angeles, and New York.  The model being developed includes innovative strategies for learning and teaching, increased use of technology, a firm commitment to the Klau Library and American Jewish Archives, and an evolving vision of education that will meet the needs of the 21st century. Significant financial restructuring will establish a sustainable, balanced budget, ensuring the future of the College-Institute.  

The Board and administration have been heartened by the outpouring of thousands of expressions of support and concern by alumni, Reform congregants, and the larger community.  The College-Institute is grateful for this groundswell of support.

On June 23rd, 2009, the administration will bring its recommendations to the Board of Governors. 

The College-Institute affirms its commitment to strengthening and fulfilling its mission of training and sustaining Jewish professionals throughout their careers of service to Reform Judaism and Klal Yisrael – the Jewish people worldwide.  

Rabbi David Ellenson, President                   Barbara Friedman, Chair, Board of Governors

Earlier, the Cincinnati Enquirer had the following to say on this story:

The decision to keep all three campuses open came after an aggressive campaign by leaders of Cincinnati’s Jewish community to save the Clifton campus, where Reform Jewish rabbis have received training since the school opened here in 1875.  A group of lobbyists, rabbis and alumni mobilized quickly last month when school officials in New York said the Cincinnati campus was in jeopardy because HUC could not afford to maintain three campuses.

Thank you to everyone who wrote comments, sent letters, and passed the word along.  Your efforts have changed the facts on the ground and influenced the Board’s decision.

There is still a great deal of work to be done, and we believe that the time is now to put our money where are mouths are and to donate to HUC.   If you can do so, please click here to donate.

The Situation

April 21, 2009
The Hebrew Union College was founded in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1875, making it the oldest Jewish educational institution in the United States.  While it has now expanded to New York, Los Angeles, and Jerusalem, the Cincinnati is the only institution of its kind servicing the entire Midwest, and large parts of the South.

Due to recent financial struggles, HUC is considering closing the Cincinnati campus.  This would be a tragedy for Cincinnati, HUC, and the entirety of Midwest Jewry.

But the decision has not yet been finalized. You can have your voice heard. The board of governors meets in New York on May 3/4; and on June 23, the board will vote on a restructuring plan.

How can you help? You can express your opinions to President Ellenson or to the chair of the board of governors: Barbara Friedman

Please write letters to the editor of local newspapers.  If you are comfortable letting the world know how you feel, BCC your email to and we’ll post it on this site.  Leave a comment below and join the conversation

Learn about supporting HUC financially  Or if you are able, donate now  (be sure to specify where you want the money to go)

This story in:  The Cincinnati Enquirer  and again 4/21

The Jewish Week, The LA Times, The Jerusalem Post, The AP