Faculty Prize Awarded to Rabbi Richard S. Sarason by Women of Reform Judaism

New York, NY March 4, 2016 — Rabbi Richard S. Sarason, Ph.D., Director of the Pines School of Graduate Studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in Cincinnati, has received the Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) Faculty Award in recognition of his support of WRJ and his scholarship and commitment to the Reform Movement.

"Dr. Sarason has inspired generations of Reform leaders and his work has deepened our understanding of, and appreciation for, liturgy. His influence has been felt not only in the classroom but also through his scholarship and leadership,” stated Rabbi Marla Feldman, WRJ Executive Director.

Blair C. Marks, WRJ President, added, “Dr. Sarason has provided critical support to WRJ, particularly in the development of our historic WRJ Art Calendar. His unique knowledge has been indispensable. Without his guiding hand, we would not have been able to produce this important resource for the Reform Movement.”

The WRJ Faculty Award was established in 2013 in honor of Rabbi David Ellenson on the occasion of his retirement as president of HUC-JIR. It is given biennially to a faculty member of HUC-JIR who has supported WRJ in its endeavors and whose work exemplifies the values and mission of the organization. The inaugural recipient in 2013 was Rabbi Dr. Gary Zola, Executive Director, Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives. Dr. Sarason is the second recipient to receive this honor.

WRJ is the single largest cumulative organizational donor to HUC-JIR since its establishment in 1913.  In addition to this faculty award, WRJ provides scholarship aid to students studying at HUC-JIR’s campuses in Cincinnati, Los Angeles, and New York. WRJ also provides support for the HUC-JIR Israel Rabbinical Program in Jerusalem and cantorial prizes to students the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music.

In receiving the award, Dr. Sarason said, "I am both honored and humbled to be receiving this significant recognition from Women of Reform Judaism, one of our most important Reform organizations. It has been a pleasure for me to work with WRJ on several projects over the past two decades, and I look forward to continuing this work in the future."

Dr. Sarason is the Director of the Pines School of Graduate Studies (PSGS) and Deutsch Family Professor of Rabbinics and Liturgy at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati. He joined the faculty in 1979, after serving as Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Brown University, where he received his Ph.D. in 1977. He was ordained at HUC-JIR in 1974 and received his A.B. in Economics from Brandeis University in 1969.

Dr. Sarason is the author of two books, A History of the Mishnaic Law of Agriculture: A Study of Tractate Demai (1979), and The Talmud of the Land of Israel: A Preliminary Translation and Explanation. Tractate Demai (1993), as well as numerous articles in the areas of classical rabbinic literature and thought. He served for the past fifteen years as Associate Editor of the Hebrew Union College Annual. He is vice-chair of the Reform Movement’s Joint Commission on Worship, Synagogue Music, and Religious Living and was a member of the Siddur Editorial Advisory Committee that worked on Mishkan T’filah, the new Reform prayer book. 

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Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ), founded in 1913, is the women’s affiliate of the Union for Reform Judaism, the central body of Reform Judaism in North America. WRJ represents tens of thousands of women in hundreds of women’s groups, strengthening the voice of women worldwide and empowering them to create caring communities, nurture congregations, cultivate personal and spiritual growth, and advocate for and promote progressive Jewish values.

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, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding

Published: 03/14/2016

The Youth, Education, and Special Projects (YES) Fund represents the collective financial efforts of individual donors and WRJ-affiliated sisterhoods to grow our Reform institutions, fund clergy education, and inspire our youth.

WRJ has been a key leader of the Reform Movement, working closely with the URJ and its key affiliates to support, strengthen, and represent the Progressive Jewish community in North America, Israel, and around the world.