NEW YORK (JTA) — The Cincinnati and Los Angeles campuses of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion will stay open, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Discussions had been under way to close the two campuses of the Reform movement’s seminary in an effort to save the financially strapped HUC millions of dollars per year. But in a meeting of the seminary’s board of governors Monday, the idea apparently was scrapped.
Reform and Conservative seminaries – the institutions charged with providing the overwhelming majority of affiliated American Jews with their religious and educational leadership – face budget cuts so severe that their missions may be imperiled. The congregational arms of their movements also are in grave financial straits, and American rabbis generally face a shortage of jobs.
…IN FAIRNESS to the masses, the Reform and Conservative movements have yet to make a compelling case for their role in American Jewish life. They seem reluctant to insist on the importance of their training rabbis, despite evidence that most American Jews have no real notion of the seminaries’ existence. Rabbis are like babies; they apparently are delivered by storks.
To listen to some of the seminaries’ pronouncements often sounds like listening to American automakers, with pledges to cut back, retool and emerge leaner, stronger and dynamic. And at the end, the automakers will offer a product that the public may not want or need.
We will continue to see Jewish newspapers reporting on "who can be a rabbi" and in some parts of the US, some will waste a lot of energy debating "who can be" – without looking at "will there be" rabbis.