Rabbi Dan Judson

Dan Judson

Rabbi Dan Judson, PhD
Director of Professional Development and Placement
Rabbinical School of Hebrew College
djudson@hebrewcollege.edu  | 617-559-8638

Specialization
History of American synagogues and money.  

Education

  • Doctorate in Jewish History, Brandeis University, Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies
  • Rabbinical Ordination and Masters in Hebrew Letters, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
  • B.A., Colgate University

 

 

Involvement in Rabbinic Education

"I was the Rabbi of a congregation for a decade, and I learned one thing, people need rabbis. They don’t need them all of the time, they don’t even need them most of the time, but some times they need them, and it is in those moments when the job is amazing in its power to make a difference.

Henri Nouwen, a Dutch priest best known for his book The Wounded Healer, writes in the title essay that he was once standing on the bridge of an ocean liner that was making its way through incredibly dense fog, when the captain of the ship, who was pacing out of anxiety, literally tripped over him. The captain got up and yelled, “G-d dammit, father, get out of my way.” Nouwen writes that he was about to follow orders and run away, when the captain turned back to him and said, 'Actually why don’t you stay around, this might be the only time I really need you.'

This little anecdote captures much of the tension and the possibility of being a rabbi. Most of the time the job entails being on the periphery of people’s lives and not necessarily needed, but there are moments when rabbis are thrown into the middle of situations when their unique combination of symbolic power, knowledge of our tradition, and pastoral skill, change people’s lives in small but important ways. 

I am passionate about rabbinic education because I want to help students nurture these skills. 

I believe wholeheartedly in the vision of Hebrew College in developing Rabbis who are deeply knowledgeable in tradition, while alive to contemporary spirituality. We are trying to have the best of all worlds here, people who are at home in tradition and at home with people. It is a worthy goal and when I see our students go off into the world and experience those brief but invaluable moments of helping others, I am gratified to have been part of their process."  

Biography

Rabbi Judson teaches history, oversees the professional development program, and serves as the placement director for the rabbinical school. He received his doctorate in Jewish history from Brandeis University where his research focused on the history of American synagogue finances. His book, Pennies for Heaven: A History of American Synagogues and Money, will be published next year.  Dan served on the national faculty of the Union for Reform Judaism, consulting to synagogues across the country on financial matters. His research on synagogues which have eliminated dues was featured in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, NPR, The New York Jewish Week, and Reform Judaism Magazine. He was also the Rabbi of Temple Beth David in Canton, MA for 10 years and co-authored a number of books on Jewish rituals for Jewish Lights Publishing, including: The Rituals and Practices of a Jewish Life: A Handbook for Personal Spiritual Renewal and The Jewish Pregnancy Book: A Resource for the Soul, Body and Mind During Pregnancy, Birth and the First Three Months

Current Research

Rabbi Judson is conducting a study under the auspices of UJA Federation of New York on those synagogues which have eliminated dues. It is a follow up to a study he wrote in 2014 which garnered a good deal of attention from synagogues interested in changing their funding models. 

Courses

Selected Publications

  • Pennies for Heaven: The History of American Synagogues and Money, Brandeis University Press (under review, expected publication in 2017)
  • Are Voluntary Dues Right For Your Synagogue? A Practical Guide, UJA Federation of New York (2015)
  • “When Jews Choose Their Dues,” Reform Judaism Magazine (Spring, 2014) An interview and essay appeared as the cover story for world’s largest circulated Jewish magazine.
  •  “What One Chabad Rabbi Can Teach Synagogues About Money,” Ejewishphilanthropy.com (January 24, 2013) Named by web site as one of the ten best articles of the year.
  • “Scrapping Synagogue Dues: A Case Study,” Ejewishphilanthropy.com (January 12, 1012). Named by web site as one of the ten best articles of the year.
  • Jewish Holidays: A Brief Introduction for Christians.  Co-author with Dr. Kerry Oltizky.  Woodstock, VT:  Jewish Lights Publishing, 2006. Part of a series of books about Jewish practice intended for a Christian audience.
  • Jewish Rituals:  A Brief Introduction for Christians.  Co-author with Dr. Kerry Olitzky. Woodstock, VT:  Jewish Lights Publishing, 2004. Part of a series of books about Jewish practice intended for a Christian audience. 
  • The Jewish Pregnancy Book: A Resource for the Soul, Mind & Body During Pregnancy, Labor and the First Three Months.  Co-author with Dr. Sandy Falk.  Woodstock, VT:  Jewish Lights Publishing, 2003. A book for Jewish pregnant women containing: prayers and rituals; medical wisdom; Rabbinic perspectives on pregnancy; Jewish bio-medical ethics; aleph-bet yoga; and personal reflections. Featured in the Boston Globe.
  • The Rituals and Practices of a Jewish Life: A Handbook for Personal Spiritual Renewal.  Co-editor with Dr. Kerry Olitzky.  Woodstock, VT:  Jewish Lights Publishing, 2002. An anthology of essays on Jewish rituals.  Each essay focuses on one ritual, such as: keeping kashrut, going to the mikvah, saying morning and evening blessings, wearing a kipah, laying tefillin, etc. Featured in the Boston Globe.
  • Meeting at the Well:  A Jewish Spiritual Guide to Being Engaged. Co-author with Rabbi Nancy Wiener.  New York:  UAHC Press, 2002. The book provides Jewish wisdom on a variety of topics for engaged couples.  These topics include:  intimacy, money, religion, spirituality, dealing with in-laws, etc. 

Recent Presentations

  •  “Mordecai Kaplan, The Creation of the Jewish-Center and Its Economic Implications”  Wrestling With Jewish Peoplehood Conference, Philadelphia, PA, April 2016.
  • The Past and Future of American Synagogues." Scholar-in-Residence, The Temple, Louisville, KY, May 2016.
  •  “Alternative Synagogue Financing Models." URJ Bienniel, Orlando, November 2015.
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