Dear HUC-JIR Community,

As co-chairs of the Teshuvah Working Group at HUC-JIR, we have been charged with recommending to the HUC-JIR administration and Board a process of institutional teshuvah that will help us strengthen our beloved College-Institute. We held our first working group meeting earlier this month and are writing to share a community update about what you can expect of us and how you can engage with this work.

Over the last several weeks, we enlisted an outstanding group of individuals whose diverse experiences at HUC-JIR, professional expertise, and judgment will create the right environment for the task before us. You will find their names at the bottom of this message.

Our working group’s mission is to address the individual and institutional misconduct of the past in order to bring healing to those who were harmed by harassment, discrimination, and other forms of misconduct at the College-Institute and meet our obligations as a Jewish institution. While our working group is primarily focused on misconduct of the past, we will work alongside parallel efforts underway at HUC-JIR to address and strengthen the school’s present and future culture. Given the broad potential parameters of engaging in teshuvah, we want our community to understand the scope of our work. Our initial priorities include:

  • Gathering testimony from individuals who encountered misconduct at HUC-JIR;
  • Recommending a process of appropriate responsibility-taking by the institution;
  • Recommending optional ritual moments of healing (e.g., reaffirmation of ordination ceremony); and
  • Exploring options for updated ordination and graduation documents.

Teshuvah, defined as repentance, has varied understandings throughout Jewish thought and in common parlance, and most commonly refers to individuals. Part of the work of this group will be to clarify an approach to repentance and reconciliation that is consonant with the concerns of those impacted by misconduct and our institutional responsibility. We are also committed to remaining in communication with our counterparts at the URJ and CCAR and will continue to find spaces for collaboration as our Movement addresses its past, present, and future.

Due to the understandable sensitivities and complex emotions surrounding the misconduct detailed in the Morgan Lewis report, we are navigating a wide range of expectations. We are painfully aware that we cannot change the past, but we are ambitious enough to hope that in creating safe and protected spaces to begin a process of healing, we can set the stage for becoming the kind of institution we all aspire to be.

In order to achieve our mission, we expect to evolve our process along the way as we center survivors’ experiences and adapt to their needs. Our effort will be most successful if we can rely on the input and involvement of the greater HUC-JIR community.

You can contact us with ideas, suggestions, or questions at Messages will be read by the working group co-chairs and staff liaisons. We’ll share additional ways to engage as we move forward, along with updates on our progress as appropriate.

Please note that the aforementioned email address should NOT be used to share confidential or sensitive, personal information. For those who have more sensitive concerns, please contact Rabbi Andrew Goodman, Director of Student Support; Nicole Jones, Global Director of Human Resources; or use our online reporting function:

Our mission is vital and we intend to meet the challenge with open hearts and minds. We hope for your support and participation as we move forward together.

Rachel Margolis, RJE
Rabbi Laura Novak Winer, Ed.D.

Teshuvah Working Group

Rachel Margolis, RJE (she/her), HUC-JIR Board of Governors
Rabbi Laura Novak Winer, Ed.D. (she/her), Director, Master of Educational Leadership Program, HUC-JIR

Rabbi Dr. Rachel Adler (she/her), Professor Emerita of Modern Jewish Thought, HUC-JIR
Rabbi Meir Bargeron (he/him), Congregation Achduth Vesholom (IN)
Rabbi Josh Bennett (he/him), Temple Israel (MI)
Rebecca Chess (they/them), HUC-JIR Rabbinical Student
Rabbi Jessy Dressin (she/her), Repair the World Baltimore (MD)
Rabbi Laura Geller (she/her), Rabbi Emerita, Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills (CA)
Cantor Tamar Havilio (she/her), Bet Shalom Congregation (MN)
Cantor Evan Kent (he/him), Adjunct Faculty, HUC-JIR
Rabbi Sari Laufer (she/her), Stephen Wise Temple (CA)
Rabbi Zachary Shapiro (he/him), Temple Akiba of Culver City (CA), HUC-JIR Board of Governors
Rabbi Dr. Kari Tuling (she/her), Congregation Kol Haverim (CT), Adjunct Faculty, HUC-JIR
Rabbi Dr. Andrea Weiss (she/her), Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Provost, HUC-JIR

HUC-JIR Staff Liaisons:
Rabbi Andrew Goodman (he/him), Director of Student Support
Jessica Silver (she/her), Chief of Staff and Vice President of Strategic Initiatives