Our special guest this week is Rabbi Aaron Panken, President Elect of the Hebrew Union College. Ordained by HUC-JIR in New York in 1991, Rabbi Panken has served as a member of the faculty and as Vice President for Strategic Initiatives, Dean of the New York campus, and Dean of Students. He has taught Rabbinic and Second Temple Literature at HUC-JIR in New York since 1995, with research interests in the historical development of legal concepts and terms; narrative development; and development of holiday observances.
An alumnus of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship, Dr. Panken earned his doctorate in Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University, where his research focused on legal change in Rabbinic Literature. He currently serves on faculty for the Wexner Foundation and the Editorial Board of Reform Judaism Magazine, and has served on the Rabbinical Placement Commission, the birthright Education Committee, the CCAR Ethics Committee, and in a variety of other leadership roles within the Reform Movement and greater Jewish community. Prior to teaching at the College-Institute, he served in congregations including Congregation Rodeph Sholom in New York City and Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, NY. A native of New York City who graduated from Johns Hopkins University's Electrical Engineering program, Rabbi Panken is also a certificated commercial pilot and sailor. His publications include The Rhetoric of Innovation (University Press of America, 2005), which explores legal change in Rabbinic texts, and articles in leading academic journals and scholarly volumes.
This week's portion- Parashat B'Reisheet (Genesis 1:1-6:8)- is the very first portion of the Torah. It features the story of the Creation of the world, Adam and Eve's expulsion from the Garden of Eden, the tale of Cain and Abel, and the beginning of the story of Noah.