Brown Responds to Challenges Facing Hebrew Union College

Brown Voices Support in Letter to Rabbi David Ellenson, HUC President

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today responded to the potential termination of Hebrew Union College’s (HUC) Cincinnati campus. In a letter to HUC President, Rabbi David Ellenson, Brown expressed concern for HUC’s financial situation and pledged his commitment to helping the college find solutions that would not limit its operations. 

“HUC is a beacon for leadership in liberal and progressive ideas, helping to advance important social reforms in Cincinnati that have made our entire region more open, tolerant and diverse,” Brown wrote. “I am certain that you and your leadership are faced with a set of extraordinarily difficult decisions – choices that will have a direct impact on the future of HUC. Please consider my office to be an ally in your efforts to navigate the challenging decisions ahead. I would very much like to help HUC in any way that I can.”

Brown joined visiting scholar Dr. Susannah Heschel at the HUC American Jewish Archives this past September. Brown organized the event to honor Dr. Heschel’s father, A.J. Heschel, an eminent Jewish scholar and former HUC professor.

The full text of Brown’s letter to Rabbi Ellenson is included below.

Dear Rabbi Ellenson:

I have recently learned of the profound challenges facing Hebrew Union College. I am writing to you in support of the College, and to express my concern about reports that HUC-JIR’s Board of Governors may decide to close its Cincinnati campus.

As you know from our time together during the wonderful program with Dr. Susannah Heschel at the American Jewish Archives last September, I have long been an admirer of HUC, and I feel very strongly that the College’s presence in Cincinnati is important to the State of Ohio. 

Hebrew Union College is an invaluable asset. Jews and non-Jews alike consider it to be a unique center of intellectual and spiritual learning. Its accomplishments in so many fields of religious study and communal service are unparalleled in the Midwest. Because of HUC, Cincinnati attracts hundreds of individuals who contribute to the communities around them. The College is a destination for visiting scholars like Dr. Heschel, making HUC a venue for first-rate lectures and other academic programs. The College has trained hundreds of Jewish and non-Jewish clergy currently serving congregations and communities throughout the country. And HUC is a beacon for leadership in liberal and progressive ideas, helping to advance important social reforms in Cincinnati that have made our entire region more open, tolerant and diverse.

The Klau Library and Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives are two of the most precious jewels of HUC. While I am encouraged by recent statements from your office that “there is absolutely no scenario that speaks of dismantling the Klau Library or the American Jewish Archives”, I remain concerned about the future of these rare treasures. It is difficult to imagine the Library and Archives being located anywhere other than in Cincinnati, and it is my sincere hope that if those two institutions do remain here, they will do so in an active and vibrant environment, surrounded by students, faculty and scholars eager to benefit from the invaluable research collections.

I am certain that you and your leadership are faced with a set of extraordinarily difficult decisions – choices that will have a direct impact on the future of HUC. Especially in this challenging economic climate, I would like to encourage you to consider how much more inexpensively HUC’s operations could be run in Cincinnati, the amount of government support you may be able to secure for the future viability of the College, as well as the degree to which local academic and community institutions stand ready to partner with HUC should it reconstitute in Cincinnati.

Please consider my office to be an ally in your efforts to navigate the challenging decisions ahead. I would very much like to help HUC in any way that I can. Please feel free to contact Brooke Hill in my Cincinnati Office at 513-684-1021 with any questions.

                                                                                                Sincerely,
                                                                                   
                                                                                                Sherrod Brown
                                                                                                United States Senator

###

Press Contact

(202) 224-3978