Wednesday, June 06, 2001

HUC names president

Rabbi David Ellenson a professor on L.A. campus

By Ben L. Kaufman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Hebrew Union College turned to its faculty for the first time in more than half a century Tuesday for a new president.

        Rabbi David Ellenson, a professor of Jewish religious thought on HUC's Los Angeles campus, was elected unanimously by the college board.

        Rabbi Ellenson, 53, is HUC's eighth president. He succeeds Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman, who resigned in December.

        Laura Geller, senior rabbi of Temple Emanu-El in Los Angeles, called Rabbi Ellenson a “cutting-edge scholar” and a “really wise man (whose) wisdom comes from being a compassionate human being. ... It is a great appointment for the college.”

        Board chairman Burton Lehman said Rabbi Ellenson's “exemplary leadership and passionate commitment to Reform Judaism and the Jewish people worldwide” would inspire HUC's growth.

        “I know it will be good for the Jews,” Rabbi Ellenson said with a laugh during an interview from his Los Angeles home. “The question is whether it will be good for the Ellensons.”

        He left it open whether he and his family would move to Cincinnati, where HUC was founded in 1875, remain in Los Angeles or move to New York.

        “I sought the job ... in response to many, many entreaties by many people,” Rabbi Ellenson said. He also was moved by his sense “of love and responsibility for the institution.”

        Colleagues said Rabbi Ellenson's years of working at Jewish camps and speaking at hundreds of congregations give him a sense of what is wanted from rabbis and an intimate knowledge of how Reform Judaism works.

        HUC's president is chief executive officer of a seminary and graduate school that has campuses in Los Angeles, Cincinnati, New York and Jerusalem.

        HUC trains rabbis, cantors, educators and communal service professionals for the Reform movement worldwide as well as Jewish and non-Jewish scholars. HUC was founded in Cincinnati and is the nation's oldest Jewish seminary.


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