(1947 - )
Dr. David Ellenson is President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish
Institute of Religion -- the 8th President in its 125 year-long history.
He holds the Gus Waterman Herrman Presidential Chair and is the I.H.
and Anna Grancell Professor of Jewish Religious Thought at HUC-JIR in
Los Angeles. A member of HUC-JIRs faculty since 1979, he has served
as Lecturer, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor
of Jewish Religious Thought. From 1981-1997, he also held the post of
Director of the Jerome H. Louchheim School of Judaic Studies.
Dr. Ellenson received his Ph.D. from Columbia University
in 1981 and was ordained a rabbi at HUC-JIRs New York School in
1977. He holds masters degrees from Columbia, HUC-JIR, and the University
of Virginia. He received his bachelors degree from the College of William
and Mary in Virginia in 1969.
Dr. Ellenson is a Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute of Jerusalem
and Fellow and Lecturer in the Institute of Advanced Studies at Hebrew
University in Jerusalem (1999 to present). He has served as Visiting
Professor of History at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York,
Lady Davis Visiting Professor of Humanities in the Department of Jewish
Thought at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and Visiting Professor in
the Center for Jewish Studies and a member of the Near Eastern Languages
and Cultures Department at the University of California, Los Angeles
(1986-97). He has also been the Blaustein Scholar at the Jerusalem Pardes
Institute for Jewish Studies and regularly serves as a faculty member
of the Wexner Heritage Foundation.
Dr. Ellenson has published and lectured extensively on diverse topics
in modern Jewish history, ethics, and thought. He is the author of Tradition
in Transition: Orthodoxy, Halakhah and the Boundaries of Modern Jewish
Identity (1989), Rabbi Esriel Hildesheimer and the Creation of a Modern
Jewish Orthodoxy (1990) (nominated for the National Jewish Book Councils
Award for outstanding book in Jewish History, 1990), and "Between
Tradition and Culture: The Dialectics of Jewish Religion and Identity
in the Modern World (1994). He is also at work on another book-length
collection of his essays.
His work describes the writings of Reform, Conservative, Orthodox,
and Reconstructionist leaders
in Europe, the United States, and Israel during the last two centuries
and employs a sociological approach to illuminate the history and development
of modern Jewish religious denominationalism. His application of this
method has allowed him to emphasize the interplay between Jewish religious
tradition and modern society in unique ways, and has prompted him to
write and lecture on topics ranging from early Reform and Orthodoxy
in 19th century Germany and conversion to Judaism at the beginning of
the 1900s to the problems of medical ethics in present-day America.
Along with Dr. Stanley Chyet, Dr. Ellenson co-edited Bits of Honey: Essays for Samson H. Levey (1993), and is the
author of the commentary entitled "How the Modern Prayerbook Evolved"
in the acclaimed Five Volume Series on the Jewish Prayerbook, Minhag
Ami My Peoples Prayerbook edited by Dr. Lawrence Hoffman.
He is currently completing a book tentatively entitled, For
the Sake of Heaven: Conversion, Identity, and the Politics of
Modern Jewish Orthodoxy, co-authored with Daniel Gordis. He is also
at work on another book-length collection of his essays.
He has written more than 200 articles and reviews in
diverse academic and religious journals and books, including The Hebrew
Union College Annual, The Journal of American Academy of Religion, Religious
Studies Review, The Year Book of the Leo Baeck Institute, Journal of
Religion, Modern Judaism, The Jewish Book Annual, The CCAR Journal,
Conservative Judaism, The Reconstructionist, and Tradition. His academic
lectures have been delivered at such institutions as Charles University
in Prague, Ben Gurion and Bar Ilan Universities in Israel, Haverford
College, Harvard, Yale, Brown, and the Jewish Theological Seminary.
Dr. Ellenson is a member of several professional and academic societies,
including the Association for Jewish Studies, the American Academy of
Religion, the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, the Southern
California Board of Rabbis, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis.
He has served as a pulpit rabbi in Port Washington, New York, and Keene,
New Hampshire, and has worked at several summer camps of the Reform
and Conservative movements.
Born in Brookline, Mass., in 1947, Dr. Ellenson was raised in Newport
News, Virginia. He is married to Rabbi Jacqueline Koch Ellenson, ordained
at HUC-JIR in New York in 1983 and Chaplain at the Harvard-Westlake
School in Los Angeles. They are the parents of Ruth (married to Robert
Guffey Ellenson), Micah, Hannah, Naomi, and Raphael.