Showdown Time at HUC

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