Susan and I traveled to Cincinnati ten days ago for the inauguration of the new president of the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, the seminary of the Reform Movement and my alma mater. As I’ve noted before, Andrew Rehfeld and his family are long-time friends of ours and it was a thrill to share the weekend with them and so many leaders of the Reform Movement, several of them old friends as well. If the vibrancy and vitality of the weekend were any indication – uplifting, beautiful services and challenging, engaging classes were conducted by students and faculty of the College – then the College and the Movement will continue to provide meaningful approaches to liberal Jewish life in America.
As the new President, Dr. Rehfeld is one of three leaders of the largest – and growing – liberal movement in the country. In addition to all of the institutional messages that he chose to send, he also addressed the nature, as he understands it, of liberal Judaism in America today.
I want to share that vision with you. I’ve highlighted the key sections of it in this document. If you would like to read the entire speech, click here. And if you’d like to watch the entire inaugural service, click here. The whole service runs just under two hours; Andrew’s speech begins at 56:15 and runs about forty minutes.
By the way, the cantor singing Shehechiyanu just before the speech is Benjie-Ellen Schiller, another longtime friend of ours. Together with her husband, Rabbi Les Bronstein, she sang at our wedding.
I would love to hear your thoughts in response to his message. Please respond with a comment to this post or via a call or email.