Dr. Hillel Gruenberg Appointed Director of Israel Engagement at JTS and HUC-JIR

The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) and the New York Campus of the Hebrew Union College­–Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC–JIR) are pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Hillel Gruenberg as Director of Israel Engagement.

Under a generous grant from UJA-Federation of New York’s Commission on the Jewish People, Dr. Gruenberg will coordinate the two schools’ existing programs about modern Israel and help create new courses and opportunities for students, including some programs that bring students from both schools together. Dr. Gruenberg’s goal will be to ensure that the campus communities of JTS and HUC–JIR are infused with balanced dialogue about Israel and its relationship with the diaspora, as well as opportunities for students to practice being leaders of such dialogue. As future rabbis, cantors, educators, and lay leaders, current students—and many alumni as well—will need to develop their own approaches to Israel engagement as leaders in the Jewish community. Hillel Gruenberg will seek to create a foundation for that learning.

Anticipated projects include additional Israel studies courses, leadership training, and ongoing opportunities for dialogue and discussion on Israel-related subjects.

The grant supporting this position, now in its second year, builds on the existing collaboration between HUC–JIR and JTS for engagement activities for students studying in Israel, a program also supported by UJA-Federation. In his new role, Dr. Gruenberg will work to sustain and expand this important effort.

Previously, Dr. Gruenberg has taught undergraduate, graduate, and rabbinical students at JTS, New York University, and St. Joseph’s College of New York. Outside of academia, he has worked on Israel-related programming at a number of synagogues and Jewish communal institutions. Dr. Gruenberg has lived in Israel for a number of years and has traveled the country extensively. Most recently he spent a year working on his dissertation while living in Jerusalem, Haifa, and Tel Aviv, during which time he interviewed and interacted with Israelis from all walks of life, ranging from ex-government officials to former student activists. He looks forward to engaging with students at both JTS and HUC–JIR about Israel.

Dr. Gruenberg, a former postdoctoral fellow in Jewish Studies at JTS, received his PhD in Jewish Studies and History from New York University under the auspices of the Taub Center for Israel Studies in 2015. While at NYU he was the recipient of a Schusterman Israel Scholars Award. He received his BA in History and Philosophy, Politics, and Law (PPL) from Binghamton University. He has also studied at Hebrew University both during his time as an undergraduate and as a graduate student before beginning his doctorate.