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For first time, non-rabbi to lead Reform rabbinical school

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Published: 21 December 2018

Last updated: 4 March 2024

US political science professor appointed to lead four campuses of training academy in America’s largest Jewish denomination

THE HEBREW UNION College-Jewish Institute of Religion has appointed Andrew Rehfeld, a political science professor who has led the Jewish Federation of St Louis since 2012, to serve as its 13th president.

The Reform movement’s flagship seminary said Rehfeld would lead its four campuses in New York, Jerusalem, Cincinnati and Los Angeles. When he starts his new role in the beginning of April, it will be the first time the institution is not led by a rabbi.

Rehfeld is succeeding Rabbi Aaron Panken, who died in a plane crash in May at the age of 53. Rabbi David Ellenson, who led the institution from 2001 to 2013, has been serving as interim president following Panken’s death.

With more than one million members, the Reform movement is the largest Jewish denomination in North America.

Rehfeld, 52, has been an associate professor of political science at Washington University in St. Louis since 2001, where he researches contemporary democratic theory and political theory, including as it relates to Jewish studies.

FULL STORY In a first, Reform rabbinical school won’t be led by a rabbi (JTA)

With intermarriage endorsement, rabbi hopes to start ‘grass roots’ movement (Forward)

Photo: Andrew Rehfeld will serve as HUC’s 13th president (Courtesy of HUC)

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