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Notable Alumni: David Ellenson '69
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David Ellenson '69

David Ellenson '69 leads the nation’s oldest Jewish seminary and is just the eighth president in the school’s more than 130-year history. Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) is the nation's oldest institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. Today, HUC-JIR has four learning centers across the world in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles and New York.

Ellenson has been a member of the HUC-JIR faculty since 1979, including serving as its president since 2001. A well-known teacher, scholar and mentor, Ellenson -- also the I.H. and Anna Grancell Professor of Jewish Religious Thought -- is internationally recognized for his publications and research in the areas of Jewish religious thought, ethics, and modern Jewish history. Ellenson is a fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute of Jerusalem and a fellow and lecturer at the Institute of Advanced Studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Ellenson’s extensive publications include Tradition in Transition: Orthodoxy, Halakhah and the Boundaries of Modern Jewish History, which was published in 1989; Rabbi Esriel Hildesheimer and the Creation of a Modern Jewish Orthodoxy, which was published in 1990 and that same year nominated for the National Jewish Book Council's award for outstanding book in Jewish History; and 1994’s Between Tradition and Culture: The Dialectics of Jewish Religion and Identity in the Modern World. His latest book, After Emancipation: Jewish Religious Responses to Modernity, a compilation of essays on Jewish values and identity, the challenge of emancipation, denominational responses, modern responsa, and contemporary works of legal and liturgical creativity, was published by Hebrew Union College Press in 2004.

After graduating from William and Mary in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in history, Ellenson was ordained at HUC-JIR in 1977 and received his Ph.D from Columbia University in 1981. Born in Brookline, Mass., Ellenson was raised in Newport News and graduated from in 1965 from Newport News High School. He is married to Rabbi Jacqueline Koch Ellenson, who was ordained at HUC-JIR, in 1983. They have five children. Ellenson’s brother, James, is also a William and Mary graduate – receiving a bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 1978 and a law degree in 1981. -- Source: W&M News

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