Dear HUC-JIR Community,

Just over a year ago, HUC-JIR released the findings of the independent investigation into sexual misconduct, harassment, and bias at the College-Institute conducted by the law firm Morgan Lewis. The report was made possible by 170 courageous survivors whose testimonies allowed us to collectively confront this painful history.

At the end of 2021, we committed to an initial 18-month process to review and respond to what we learned and provide you with quarterly reports of our progress. As 2022 closes, we share this progress report, the fourth of our updates, providing an overview of HUC-JIR’s work to date.

Our efforts to strengthen our sacred and respectful community in response to Morgan Lewis’s recommendations and the preceding Presidential Task Force on Safe and Respectful Environments are focused in three key areas:

1. Institutional Teshuvah: Taking Responsibility for and Healing from Our Past
Over the past year, we have formed a Teshuvah Working Group to address the individual and institutional misconduct of the past and bring healing to those who were harmed, and a Renaming Committee to address the public memorializing of wrong doers across our campuses.
2. Setting Jewish Ethical Expectations for All Who Enter Our Sacred Space
HUC-JIR’s Board of Governors, Human Resources Department, Office of Student Support, and other key institutional actors have been updating our policies, setting clear behavioral expectations, clarifying pathways to report incidents of misconduct, and ensuring accountability mechanisms are in place so all members of our community are held to the same standards of behavior.
3. Fostering a Culture of Shared Accountability and Support
In collaboration with SEES, our DEI consultants, HUC-JIR has undertaken a comprehensive cultural assessment that will be followed by trainings and workshops for students, staff, and faculty to support the celebration of diversity, elimination of explicit and implicit workplace bias and discrimination, building of community within campus cultures, and strengthening of policies, protocols, and procedures for accountability.

We will continue to provide quarterly reports on our progress in the coming year and will be offering opportunities to engage with us directly as we embark on a process of institutional teshuvah.

Maimonides teaches us that teshuvah involves ensuring that when given the opportunity, transgressions are not repeated. Institutions are most at fault when they permit, enable, or fail to prevent harm by those to whom they have given power. Through cultural and institutional change, education, and transparency, we are reducing the likelihood that such transgressions will occur again at HUC-JIR, and that if they do, they will quickly come to light to be stopped and repaired. Thank you for partnering with us as we do this sacred work.


Andrew Rehfeld, Ph.D.


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