Andrew Rehfeld, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, Associate Professor of Political Science at Washington University in St. Louis, and a prominent leader of the St. Louis Jewish community, has been elected the 13th President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) after a national search. Elected by the HUC-JIR Board of Governors on December 18, 2018, he will begin his tenure on April 1, 2019. He succeeds Rabbi Aaron Panken, Ph.D., z”l, HUC-JIR’s 12th President (2014-2018).
As HUC-JIR President, Dr. Rehfeld will lead the four-campus international institution of Jewish higher education and seminary for Reform Judaism, which educates leaders to serve the Reform Movement and the Jewish people worldwide as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. He will also hold a tenured faculty position as Professor of Political Thought. Dr. Rehfeld will oversee campuses in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, an annual operating budget of over $41 million, 36 full-time tenured faculty, and an enrollment of about 400 full-time students and 800 part-time education students, graduate studies students, and undergraduate students at HUC-JIR’s partner institutions, University of Southern California and Xavier University.
A leading political scientist and distinguished Jewish communal leader, Dr. Andrew Rehfeld’s career has bridged both the academic and professional worlds as Associate Professor of Political Science at Washington University (2001 to present) and as President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis (2012 to present). The academic values of thinking, writing, and teaching are the core of his identity, coupled with a passionate commitment to building communities based on the Jewish values that are central to his life. He is an advocate for pluralism, inclusion, and racial and social justice, and an activist in combatting antisemitism, advancing peace and security for the state of Israel, and strengthening the ties binding Jews worldwide.
Dr. Rehfeld brings to HUC-JIR his extensive expertise in academic and nonprofit administration, fund raising, strategic planning, and community leadership. He was recruited in 2012 from his tenured faculty position at Washington University to lead the Jewish Federation of St. Louis.
Prior to joining Federation, Dr. Rehfeld achieved distinction in the academic world for his work as a scholar and professor. He earned a Ph.D. in Political Science (2000) and a Master of Public Policy (1994) from the University of Chicago, and a B.A., Phi Beta Kappa, in the Philosophy Honors Program at the University of Rochester (1989). In 2001 he joined the faculty of Washington University, where he received tenure as Associate Professor of Political Science in 2007.
Dr. Rehfeld’s research focuses on contemporary democratic theory with related interests in the history of political thought and the philosophy of the social sciences. While his main area of academic interest is in political thought and institutional design, more recently he has been involved in translating those interests to Jewish studies and contemporary politics. He was actively involved in a project that explored the role of the Hebrew Bible in western political thought, publishing what is thought to be the first article on John Locke’s use of the Jephtha story in his extensively researched Second Treatise on Government. His recent teaching of undergraduate courses in “Zionism” and “Jewish Political Thought” reflects this engagement. In addition, he currently is working on a project to address how to retain the two-state solution given present political realities, without giving up on either the democratic or Jewish character of the state of Israel.
A product of the Reform Movement, Dr. Rehfeld was involved in the Reform camping movement for over 35 years as a camper and song leader at Kutz Camp and more recently as faculty of the URJ Olin-Sang-Ruby Institute. He lived in Israel for a year prior to college, where he studied Hebrew on a kibbutz ulpan and was an early participant in the work-study program Livnot U’l’hibanot. Prior to his graduate studies, he was the regional director of NFTYGER (the New Jersey region of NFTY) and worked in India for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. During his graduate studies, he ran the confirmation program at KAM-Isaiah-Israel in Chicago, advised its youth group, and later served on its Board of Directors. He was a member of Central Reform Congregation in St. Louis and is now a member of Temple Israel and Kol Rinah congregations in St. Louis. He has also served on the Board and Executive Committee of Washington University’s Hillel and the St. Louis Jewish Community Relations Council.
Dr. Rehfeld, who is 52, is married to Dr. Miggie Greenberg, a board-certified psychiatrist who is the Director of out-patient psychiatry at St. Louis University. They have two children: Emma, 24, who is Music and T’filah Coordinator at Larchmont Temple in Larchmont, NY and Hoben, 23, who is an artist currently working in St. Louis.
Dr. Rehfeld’s appointment is the result of a national search conducted by a 23-member Search Committee, including members of the Board of Governors, alumni, faculty, students, and staff.