Rabbi David Ellenson, the president of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion for more than a decade, will step down from his position as head of the institution that includes the Reform movement’s rabbinical, cantorial and other schools in 2014.
HUC-JIR has appointed a presidential search committee chaired by Martin Cohen, a member of the institution’s Board of Governors, Rabbi Ellenson wrote in the Jan. 10 letter that announced his plans to the HUC-JIR community.
The committee has 22 members including faculty, students, alumni and board members, according to Cohen’s letter to the community.
The institution has also hired a search firm, SpencerStaurt, and started a strategic planning process.
Rabbi Ellenson, who was appointed president in 2001, spent some thirty years prior to that at HUC-JIR: first as a student in New York and then as a faculty member in Los Angeles. HUC-JIR also has campuses in Cincinnati and Jerusalem. He had planned to serve as president for 10 years.
After receiving ordination from HUC-JIR in 1977, Rabbi Ellenson earned a doctorate from Columbia University and currently serves as a professor of Jewish religious thought. His scholarly specialties include modern Orthodoxy and Judaism’s responses to modernity, and his books include “After Emancipation,” which won the National Jewish Book Council’s award as the outstanding book in Jewish Thought in 2005.
“My soul is bound to this institution and to the holy mission that animates it,” he wrote. “It has been the greatest privilege to devote my life to this school.”