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Grant from Rabbi Peter J. Rubinstein Fund Enables Hiring of Reform Rabbis on College Campuses

Posted July 11, 2019

Hillel International, Central Synagogue, and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Announce Hiring of Reform Rabbis to Strengthen Jewish Life on College Campuses

Partnership will bring Reform rabbis to the campuses of UCLA and Brandeis University and rabbinic interns to Ohio State, Princeton and USC

by Hillel News | Jul 08, 2019 |

WASHINGTON – Hillel International is thrilled to announce the hiring of two Reform rabbis to work as Senior Jewish Educators on the UCLA and Brandeis University campuses. These new Senior Jewish Educator positions are made possible by a generous grant from Central Synagogue to Hillel International in partnership with Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), designed to strengthen Jewish life on college campuses.

A multi-year grant of $1.4 million from Central Synagogue’s Rabbi Peter J. Rubinstein Fund for the Renaissance of Reform Judaism, announced last June, provides training, placement and support to graduates of HUC-JIR to become Hillel Senior Jewish Educators on American university campuses. The fellowship allows these rabbis to build personal relationships with hundreds of students, serve as role models and share the tenets of Reform Judaism.

HUC-JIR graduates Rabbi Alex Kress and Rabbi Evan Sheinhait will join the talented staffs of UCLA Hillel and Brandeis University Hillel, respectively, and will be on hand to greet students at the start of the fall semester. Rabbi Eric L. Abbott, who was hired as a Senior Jewish Educator last year through this grant, will be returning to Johns Hopkins University Hillel. In addition, three rabbinic interns are being supported through this grant for the 2019-2020 academic year. They will serve on the campuses of The Ohio State University, Princeton University and University of Southern California.

“I’m honored that Central Synagogue members chose to create this grant to support the growth of vibrant Jewish programming on college campuses and the training of future Reform Jewish leadership,” said Rabbi Emeritus Peter J. Rubinstein of Central Synagogue. “This innovative collaboration between Hillel and HUC-JIR enables Reform rabbi educators to strengthen Jewish engagement, celebrations and learning for college students in service of their Jewish future and our people’s unparalleled mission.”

“This partnership between Hillel International and HUC-JIR, with the support of the Central Synagogue grant, allows us to provide rabbinical role models who will be accessible to a diverse range of Jewish students on campus,” said Adam Lehman, interim CEO of Hillel International. “Our mission is to enrich the lives of Jewish students so that they may in turn enrich the Jewish people and the world. These Senior Jewish Educators will do just that, by engaging Jewish students and strengthening their connection to Jewish life, learning and Israel.”

In addition to strengthening Jewish life on campus, the Senior Jewish Educators will:

  • Help Jewish students who come from Reform and secular backgrounds understand what it means to be a Jew in the world today
  • Work with students to incorporate Jewish values and practices into their lives on campus and beyond
  • Cultivate interest among Reform and unaffiliated students who show outstanding promise to seriously consider pursuing rabbinical school or other careers in Jewish education, the cantorate and non-profit leadership

“We are excited to partner with Hillel International and Central Synagogue to encourage inspiring Jewish educators to work on campus and support the next generation of Jewish life and foster the future of Reform Jewish leadership on the college campus and in North America as a whole,” said Andrew Rehfeld, president of HUC-JIR.

Hillel International’s research has shown that Senior Jewish Educators are critical in engaging students and have the greatest impact on students’ Jewish growth. On average, each educator connects 200 students per year to Jewish life, many of whom would not be engaged without their presence. The effect of an educator is much greater on a student with little or no prior involvement with Hillel or those with less developed Jewish backgrounds.

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About Hillel International

Founded in 1923, Hillel has been enriching the lives of Jewish students for more than 90 years. Today, Hillel International is a global organization that welcomes students of all backgrounds and fosters an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning and Israel. Hillel is dedicated to enriching the lives of Jewish students so that they may enrich the Jewish people and the world. As the largest Jewish student organization in the world, Hillel builds connections with emerging adults at more than 550 colleges and universities and inspires them to direct their own path. During their formative college years, students are challenged to explore, experience and create vibrant Jewish lives.

About Central Synagogue

Central Synagogue is a thriving reform congregation in midtown Manhattan, serving 2,500 families and the larger community. The synagogue’s mission is to work toward a world in which Judaism is central to the lives of Jews everywhere and is a profound and positive force for humanity. Relentless in our pursuit of that goal, the organization constantly evolves to reach far beyond its walls to learn, worship, serve and continually redefine what it means to be Jewish today. For more information about the organization, visit www.centralsynagogue.org.

About Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America’s leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles and New York, HUC-JIR’s scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, museums, research institutes and centers and academic publications. www.huc.edu For more information about HUC-JIR recruitment initiatives, contact Explore@huc.edu.