USC College Dean Joseph Aoun hosted a dinner Feb. 13 to honor Rabbi Lewis Barth, outgoing dean of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Los Angeles campus. More than 100 leaders and scholars from USC and HUC-JIR attended the evening event at Town & Gown.
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is the nation’s oldest institution of higher Jewish education, a preeminent religious and scholarly center with campuses in Cincinnati, New York, Los Angeles and Jerusalem.
Barth first served as dean of HUC-JIR/LA from 1971-79 and was reappointed to the position in 1997. He will step down from the deanship at the end of the 2005-06 academic year to return to teaching and research after a year’s sabbatical.
“Lewis Barth’s leadership and warmth have facilitated the development of personal relationships among professors and administrators at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and USC,” said Rabbi David Ellenson, president of HUC-JIR and a longtime faculty member at the Los Angeles campus. “His academic vision and rigor have been responsible for recent appointments that have deepened the course and programmatic offerings at both institutions. I thank Dean Barth for the profound legacy he has left and upon which we are pledged to continue to build.”
Barth has been credited with bringing a new energy to HUC-JIR’s Los Angeles campus. Under his leadership, the school expanded its faculty and course offerings. In 1998, HUC-JIR/LA became an ordaining campus, a development representing a major step forward for the school. Its first rabbis were ordained in 2002.
“Lew Barth has played an indispensable role in nurturing the bond between USC and HUC-JIR by steadfastly encouraging a spirit of goodwill and camaraderie between the two campuses,” Aoun said. “The collaboration between our two institutions embodies the College’s belief that remarkable things can happen when innovative partnerships are built with other institutions. This dynamic partnership will serve as a testament to his leadership long into the future.”
The neighboring institutions have enjoyed an alliance dating back more than 35 years. The L.A. campus’ move from the Hollywood Hills to its current location across Jefferson Boulevard from the University Park campus coincided with the beginning of Barth’s first stint as dean in 1971. The unique relationship created between the religious seminary and a major secular research university enriches the academic and cultural landscapes of both partners.
Undergraduates in USC College’s Judaic studies program work closely with HUC-JIR/LA scholars, and senior instructors from HUC-JIR/LA teach about half a dozen USC general education courses each semester. USC and HUC-JIR/LA also have partnered to offer joint master’s degrees mating Jewish communal service with such disciplines as social work, gerontology, communication management and business administration.
HUC-JIR/LA is an active participant in Jewish life on the University Park campus, working with USC’s Office of Religious Life, USC Hillel, the USC Casden Institute for the Study of the Jewish Role in American Life and the USC Center for Religious and Civic Culture.
The recent event recognized Barth’s accomplishments and celebrated the enduring bond between USC and HUC-JIR. In attendance were Stanley and Ilene Gold, a couple whose involvement in the life of both institutions has been fundamental to this bond.
Stanley Gold, a USC alumnus and chairman of the USC Board of Trustees, serves on HUC-JIR’s Board of Governors. Ilene Gold is a member of USC College’s Board of Councilors. They both serve on the Board of Overseers of HUC-JIR/LA.
In his remarks at the event, Stanley Gold expressed the importance of both USC and HUC-JIR in his and his wife’s lives, and praised Barth’s role as a bridge builder between these two institutions.
Members of HUC-JIR’s Board of Governors and of its L.A. Board of Overseers joined Rabbi Ellenson at the dinner. USC Trustee Carmen Warschaw, who along with her late husband, Louis Warschaw, helped establish the USC Casden Institute for the Study of the Jewish Role in American Life and that center’s Carmen and Louis Warschaw Distinguished Lecture Series, also turned out to honor Barth.
“For me,” Barth said, “this is a celebration of a remarkable institutional relationship, of joint accomplishments and of friendships, some of which span a lifetime and some of which have started just in the last months. Accomplishments for all of us, at HUC-JIR and at USC, have a collaborative foundation and a shared commitment to excellence of scholarship and teaching.”