The Jewish art scene in Los Angeles is a small but vibrant community that spans generations, styles, and the full length and breadth of the city itself. Now, for the first time, three of L.A.’s preeminent Jewish institutions — Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), University of Southern California Hillel and American Jewish University (AJU) — have teamed up to produce a collaborative exhibition that stretches across three venues and features more than a dozen local artists.
One day in early March 1954, Uri Herscher, just 12 at the time, ran away from his parents. His father, Joseph, a cabinetmaker, and mother, Lucy, a laundress, were having trouble making ends meet living in Israel. Together with Uri and his younger brother, Eli, they were meant to leave from Haifa the next morning to travel to the United States. There, the family would find a new home in San Jose, Calif., a thriving middle-class community with very few Jews, where Joseph’s sister had already set down roots.
Imagine taking a graduate school class — a small one, with maybe a dozen students — and for the entire year, not being able to understand a single word the professor said. For your final examination, you have to rely on notes compiled from your classmates and pray they understood the material enough to effectively teach you.
In 1963, Richard Levy was in his mid-20s and in his last year of rabbinical school when he was sent on an internship to a synagogue in Jasper, Ala. About the time of Rosh Hashanah, not far away in the town of Birmingham, a bomb exploded at the 16th Street Baptist Church, an African-American place of worship, and four girls were killed.
Rabbi Aaron Panken, the newly announced president-elect of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), said just days after being named that he hopes to bring a fresh perspective to the Reform movement’s academic home by marrying technology, creativity and a renewed commitment to Reform values, including at the HUC-JIR Los Angeles campus.
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) has elected its former dean, Rabbi Aaron Panken, as its new president. Panken succeeds Rabbi David Ellenson, who will become HUC-JIR’s new chancellor upon his retirement from the position of president.
When Rabbi Laura Geller learned that her father had Alzheimer’s disease, she struggled with the news. He was only in his 70s, after all, and it was painful for her to watch the man who had raised her — who she said had been “important and powerful and wonderful” in her life — lose his ability to perform daily tasks.
Susan Goldberg, rabbi of Temple Beth Israel of Highland Park and Eagle Rock, grew up in nearby Echo Park. “There were no Jewish families around when I was growing up,” Goldberg, 38, said. Now that these neighborhoods are being gentrified, and a young, creative crowd is moving in, the Jews are coming, too.
In the first few weeks of Rachel Adler’s rabbinic internship at Beth Chayim Chadashim (BCC), Rabbi Lisa Edwards had a hard time introducing Adler. For decades, Edwards had quoted Adler; she had taken classes with Adler and had been deeply influenced by Adler’s acclaimed works on Jewish feminism and feminist theology.
What’s the difference between investiture and ordination? Plenty, say officials at the Reform movement’s Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, which has announced that for the first time since establishing its cantorial school in 1948, it will ordain rather than invest its graduating class of cantors.
Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) celebrated its 80th anniversary on Jan. 29 with a gala at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel to honor its past board presidents. Among the 500 guests were Stanley Dashew, who received the agency’s Tzedakah Award, and emcee Keith Erickson, a former L.A. Laker and longtime CBS sports broadcaster. Thirteen board presidents attended the event as well as family members representing JVS board presidents who had passed away.
When he took over as dean of the Los Angeles campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in July 2010, Josh Holo, already a professor at the college, brought with him a few photographs of 11th-century letters to hang on the wall behind his desk. Among the letters is one that mentions a major problem for the Jewish communities in Egypt at the time: how to raise funds to redeem fellow Jews who had been taken captive by pirates.
Due to unprecedented financial distress, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) is poised to make deep cuts to its programming that might include the closure of two of its three U.S. campuses. HUC-JIR has campuses in Los Angeles, Cincinnati and New York, as well as a fourth location in Jerusalem, which annually cost about $40 million to operate.
This is especially true for Jews who study biblical texts. Over the millennia, Jews have never stopped dissecting and debating the multiple layers of meanings of the written and oral Torah to arrive at deeper truths.
The vision of a chevruta -- two Jews, sitting across from each other, arguing over minute details -- is an icon of the Jewish intellectual experience. There is one thing, however, that is rarely challenged or debated: the sitting position.
When the Reform movement published its new "Mishkan T'filah" last November, the prayer book looked comfortably familiar to Reform rabbinic students in Los Angeles. It was clear to them that a homemade siddur they had created for their own use had influenced the first official prayer book published by the Union for Reform Judaism since 1975.
Once again, the L.A. branch of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) had made its mark on the Reform movement. The new, official prayer book, like the homemade siddur, includes traditional prayers in Hebrew, as well as new alternative readings and meditations -- changes in keeping with Reform's adoption of more traditional practices.
The idea that a significant number of American Jewish children would come to attend Jewish day schools would have seemed unimaginable no more than 40 years ago, and the notion that thousands from Reform Jewish homes would attend such schools would have seemed even more fantastic. After all, the public school was the major institution that facilitated the entry of upwardly mobile immigrant Jews and their children into American life throughout the major part of the 20th century.
A new president of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) was inaugurated in a moving ceremony held Oct. 13 in the ornate Plum Street Temple in downtown Cincinnati.
Rabbi David H. Ellenson was named president of Hebrew Union College--Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR). This, as they say, is huge: for Ellenson, for Reform Jewry, for Los Angeles.
This Sunday, HUC-JIR's Los Angeles school will celebrate the seminary's 125 years with a day of study, song, and partying.
By the end of his first year at HUC in Cincinnati, Rabbi Richard Levy was well on his way to keeping kosher, to wearing a kippah full-time and to observing a traditional Shabbat.