Hebrew College Awards 32 Master's Degrees, Ordains Six Rabbis and Two Cantors at 91st Commencement Exercises

Newton Centre, MA—June 6, 2016. 

June 6, 2016. Hebrew College celebrated its 91st Commencement and Ordination ceremonies yesterday, graduating six rabbinical students, two cantorial students and 32 master's degree students. 

In the morning ceremony held in Hebrew College’s Berenson Hall, the College awarded honorary degrees to Rabbi David Ellenson, chancellor emeritus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion; Joshua R. Jacobson, Proz`65, professor of music and director of choral activities at Northeastern University and founder and director of the Zamir Chorale of Boston; and Diane Troderman, former chair of Jewish Education Service of North America.

Jane Eisner, Editor-in-Chief of The Forward received an honorary degree and delivered the keynote speech, telling graduates, “This is now your work: To absorb the best without being absorbed by it. To assimilate the most creative, most just, most humane ideas from the broader culture and make them your own without losing a particular Jewish identity, without diminishing Jewish commitment." 

Student speaker Orna Siegel, MJEd`16, Director of Enrollment and Tuition Assistance at Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, told the crowd of graduates, “The challenges facing us as leaders of the Jewish people are myriad. We must be bold and innovative, humble and humane, passionate and creative in our response.” 

Hebrew language coordinator and director of the Ulpan program at Hebrew College, Tzilla Barone, was honored with the Sidney Hillson/Rose Bronstein Memorial Award for distinguished leadership and commitment to the centrality of the Hebrew language in Jewish education and for the advancement of Jewish culture and civilization. Rabbi Alan M. Ullman received the Dr. Benjamin J. Shevach Memorial Award for distinguished achievement in Jewish educational leadership.

At the afternoon ordination ceremony held at Temple Reyim in Newton, MA, Hebrew College president Rabbi Daniel L. Lehmann addressed the capacity crowd and new graduates, “As religious leaders, we need to understand the value of humility and the need to bring Judaism into the space where people live.” The newly ordained rabbis and cantors include: Cantor Sarah Ilana Bolts, Cantor Vera Martina Broekhuysen, Rabbi Shahar Decassares Colt, Rabbi Nathan Evan DeGroot, Rabbi Rebekah Anne Goldman, Rabbi Elias Matthew Herb, Rabbi Jamie Benado Kotler, and Rabbi Ma’ayan Chana Grossman Sands.

Each graduate was presented with a prayer shawl (tallit) by a faculty member and then received personal blessings from the deans of their respective schools, Cantor Brian Mayer, dean of the School of Jewish Music and Rabbi Sharon Cohen-Anisfeld, dean of the Rabbinical School. The ceremony concluded with spontaneous singing and dancing as friends, family, and colleagues celebrated with Hebrew College’s new cohort of rabbis and cantors.

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Hebrew College, founded in 1921, promotes excellence in Jewish learning and leadership within a pluralistic environment of open inquiry, intellectual rigor, personal engagement and spiritual creativity. Its programs include a Rabbinical School, a School of Jewish Music, a School of Jewish Education, and graduate degrees and courses in Jewish studies; community education for adult learners; and a supplemental Hebrew high school and middle school. For more information, visit www.hebrewcollege.edu