Board Chair Sue Neuman Hochberg Letter to Community
President Andrew Rehfeld Letter to Community

Dear HUC-JIR Community,

Earlier this year, the Board of Governors retained Morgan Lewis, a leading law firm, to conduct an independent investigation and thoroughly review allegations of past sexual harassment, gender bias, and other forms of inequitable treatment at HUC-JIR. We are writing to you today to share the full investigation report, which we have posted to the HUC-JIR website.

The report provided to us by Morgan Lewis recounts serious and credible allegations of gender and other forms of discrimination, sexual harassment, favoritism, intolerance, and disrespect occurring over decades. Numerous members of the HUC-JIR community described the lasting harm caused to them from conduct that is antithetical to the core values of this institution and, quite simply, unacceptable. We are profoundly grateful to those who came forward as witnesses, victims, and survivors of mistreatment. We respect their courage and willingness to share painful memories, and we commit ourselves to honoring what we heard from them.

It is not sufficient for us just to acknowledge what has already occurred. Moving forward, we must be, and are, committed to ensuring that the culture at HUC-JIR is always characterized by respect for and kindness to our entire community. We must ensure too that our values are communicated clearly and firmly, that we are vigilant in providing and protecting an environment of tolerance and respect, and that all members of our community have avenues to address any concerns without fear of consequence. This will not be easy. We know we cannot hide behind only improving policies and procedures, nor do we seek to do so. We commit to you that we will go further, restoring the sense of spiritual leadership that must – and will – infuse all our actions.

Two years ago, at President Rehfeld’s behest, we formed the Presidential Task Force on Safe and Respectful Environments. We must and will accelerate this effort to build a culture based on Jewish values. Dealing with the repercussions of this report lies at the heart of that work. We are all partners in this sacred endeavor of (a) making teshuvah, (b) preventing the behaviors described in the report from happening again, and (c) developing and implementing clear policies and procedures for reporting, investigating, and remedying misconduct.

Our Board of Governors will now engage fully with HUC-JIR’s professional leadership as we move swiftly to address the report. As a first step, the Board of Governors approved a Resolution to: (i) release the report in its entirety to the HUC-JIR community and the public, and (ii) prepare a comprehensive plan in response to the report, including but not limited to developing a teshuvah process, delving more deeply into the existing culture at the College-Institute, and accelerating current efforts to make HUC-JIR a community marked by mutual respect, personal integrity, kindness, and generosity of spirit. This plan will be developed by the administration and presented to the Board of Governors by December 14, as we strive to create meaningful and lasting changes.

We would like to express our gratitude to the Special Committee of the Board (Rabbi Peter Berg, Liz Dunst, David Edelson, and Cantor Sarah Sager) for their oversight and thoughtful, objective approach throughout this process – guided by the ethical and moral imperatives of our institution and our faith. And again, we would like to share our deep appreciation to the 170 courageous individuals who came forward to be interviewed by Morgan Lewis. We stand ready to listen to and support anyone else who may choose to come forward to share their experiences and their views.

While this moment feels dark, it is also an important step in the process of moving towards the light. May we move forward from this sad time together, united by our commitment to ensure our community members are safe and respected and all are treated with dignity and kindness. We can accept nothing less.

Sue Neuman Hochberg
Chair, Board of Governors

Dear HUC-JIR Community,

I am writing to share that our Board of Governors has approved the release of Morgan Lewis’ report on its independent investigation that was launched this past spring. It is a distressing and heartbreaking account. 

The report includes credible accounts of alleged events over the last 50 years in which positions of trust and power were abused, gender bias and sexual misconduct occurred, and faculty and administrative leadership failed to prevent or respond comprehensively to that behavior. It describes experiences ranging from casual insensitivity to cruelty. Even worse, it describes a culture that is antithetical to the Jewish ideals to which we aspire and corrosive to our educational mission.

We are a Jewish institution committed to the ethical imperatives of our People and the foundational values of dignity and respect for all humans created in God’s image. While the bulk of the report and certainly the most egregious behavior occurred over a decade or even decades ago, our foundational values must remain constant.

Ensuring a safe and respectful culture now requires us to draw on the strength of our community with a renewed commitment to seeing what is sometimes hard to accept. Guided by honesty, candor, and a commitment to truth and fairness that is at the heart of teshuvah, we begin with acknowledgment, and then will follow a path toward repentance and repair.

Openly and publicly looking at our past is an important step toward strengthening HUC-JIR as an ethical and spiritual academic center of learning. Yet those who courageously came forward and those who care about and are committed to the College-Institute deserve more.  

Moving forward and supporting you now

Our Board Chair Sue Hochberg has committed HUC-JIR to developing a detailed action plan by mid-December to address the recommendations in the report.

We welcome this charge, as the findings in the report are not limited to the past. They also describe incidents of insensitivity consistent with the findings of the Presidential Task Force on Safe and Respectful Environments that Board Chair Hochberg and I initiated shortly after my arrival in 2019. We are committed to building on the Task Force’s important work and conducting a deeper assessment as recommended in the report.

We also recognize that we are part of a larger network of closely connected Reform Movement institutions, some of whom are going through similar independent processes. We intend to convene conversations with our partners at the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Union for Reform Judaism, the American Conference of Cantors, and the Association of Reform Jewish Educators, among others, to assure we are driving an effective, fair communal response across our Movement.

I know how painful and urgent this may feel for you, as it does to our leadership and to me personally. To ensure the integrity of the process, our administration has been completely outside of the independent investigation. Since nearly all those in leadership positions, including the Deans of our campuses, are only reading the report now, it will take us time to develop a thoughtful response. We appreciate your patience and understanding during the coming weeks as we draft an action plan.

For now, I recognize that our students, faculty, and staff may feel the need to discuss their feelings or reactions. We know this may impact individuals in a variety of different ways, and we have identified several potential supportive resources, which your local Deans will be sharing later today.

If anyone has specific complaints to lodge, employees may contact Global Director of Human Resources Nicole Jones (, and students or alumni may contact Director of Student Support Rabbi Andrew Goodman (

My personal resolve and commitment

Every day, our faculty, staff, and students are creating the sacred spaces needed for spiritual and academic growth – the very spirit that will enable us to move forward toward teshuvah. And the painful experiences related in the Morgan Lewis report will guide our process of self-examination, reflection, and repair. This process draws on the enduring strengths and values of this institution, as reflected in the Board’s unanimous support of the administration’s recommendation to launch a comprehensive discovery process last spring.

My commitment to creating a supportive and respectful environment on all our campuses is closely tied to the importance of HUC-JIR as a vibrant community of learning – a community in which mutual respect is the foundation on which robust exploration and debate about ideas flourishes, without constraint. I am confident we will meet this challenge, for we are already on this path.

The investigation report provides the Board and administration with the insight and impetus needed to continue this important work. We will do so deliberately and sensitively, not merely for the sake of our community today, but for the generations of clergy, leadership, educators, and scholars to follow.

I hope you will join me in this journey.


Andrew Rehfeld, Ph.D.


Responses to this email account will go to our Communications team along with President Rehfeld.