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Meet The New Leader Of Hebrew Union College

Ann Thompson
Andrew Rehfeld, Ph.D. is the new president of Hebrew Union College. He will be inaugurated Sunday.

Andrew Rehfeld, Ph.D, the new president of Hebrew Union College (HUC), will be inaugurated this weekend as the organization's 10th president. The administrator and former professor is the first non-rabbi to lead HUC.

Most recently, Rehfeld led the St. Louis Jewish Federation. Before that, he taught political science at Washington University. His roots are in Atlantic City, N.J., Philadelphia and Baltimore. He says he has a lot to offer.

In an interview with WVXU, Rehfeld says he sees a deep connection between HUC and the community that has existed for a long time. He looks for new opportunities to grow that connection.

"I'm really committed to our local campus here, not merely to train our students and serve as the academic life for our faculty, but to do so in a way that adds value to the Cincinnati Jewish Community." Rehfeld says he wants the institution to fully integrate with the Cincinnati community.

HUC was founded in Cincinnati in 1875. It now has campuses in New York, Los Angeles and Jerusalem. 

In the six months he's been on the job, Rehfeld has been visiting all the HUC campuses, listening and learning to students and faculty.

He has a clear vision of the Jewish Reform Movement. "We're a movement, as most liberal movements are, on two foundational ideas: the idea that reason must guide engagement with the world, including our encounter with the divine; and that we are each individually morally responsible and worldly autonomous for the decisions that we make."

The Times of Israel reported Rehfeld wants to redefine liberal Jewry.

Rehfeld's inauguration is Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019 at Plum Street Temple at 10:30 a.m. After the inauguration, he says he'll begin creating a strategic plan for HUC.

Hebrew Union's past president, Rabbi Aaron Panken, died in a plane crash in May 2018.

Ann Thompson has years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology