Women of Reform Judaism mourns the loss of Rabbi Aaron D. Panken, Ph.D., 12th president of Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR). Dr. Panken led the four-campus international institution of higher learning and seminary for Reform Judaism that provides the academic and professional training programs for the Reform Movement’s rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals.
WRJ’s Executive Director, Rabbi Marla J. Feldman shared, “Rabbi Panken and I began our careers doing youth work together over 35 years ago. Even as he became a learned scholar and leader of the Reform Movement, he never lost his sense of adventure, good humor, and devotion to his colleagues, friends, and students. We all feel a deep sense of loss at his passing, yet his memory will give us strength as we strive to emulate those qualities that made him beloved. His memory is truly a blessing.”
Rabbi Panken‘s tragic death is a loss for our entire Reform Jewish community. He was a brilliant scholar, beloved teacher, inspiring leader, and a devoted collaborator and friend to WRJ. WRJ has been a long-standing partner of HUC-JIR since our founding in 1913, and we stand ready to help them in any way possible through this tragedy. Our condolences and prayers for healing go to Rabbi Panken‘s family, colleagues, and students.