David Ellenson Death – The American Jewish communities are mourning the death of a well-renowned and respected Rabbi who passed away suddenly. Director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies and interim president of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Dr. David Ellenson tragically died last night. He was 76.
Prof. David Ellenson was a leader in the Reform movement who wrote widely on early Orthodoxy, he was a master of writing generously about those with whom he disagreed. He was also a mensch who treated junior scholars with kindness and honesty. Jewish scholarship should follow closely in the paths he paved.
Who Was David Ellenson?
David Ellenson was an American rabbi and academic who was a leader of Judaism’s Reform movement. Ellenson is now the head of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University, as well as a visiting professor of Near Eastern and Judaic studies and the interim president of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR).
He was previously president of HUC-JIR from 2001 to December 31, 2013, and is now chancellor emeritus. Following the death of his successor, Aaron D. Panken, Ellenson is now serving as interim president. Ellenson was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, in 1947, and grew up in Newport News, Virginia, in an Orthodox Jewish household. In 1964-65, he was the student body president of Newport News High School.
Ellenson earned a B.A. from the College of William and Mary in 1969. He received his M.A. in religious studies from the University of Virginia in 1972. In 1977, he was ordained at HUC-JIR, and in 1981, he got his Ph.D. from Columbia University.
“Rabbi David Ellenson was a scholar, a profoundly thoughtful leader, and most importantly the mentschiest of mentsches.” He was endlessly generous. Over the years, we had many conversations about everything ranging from Israel to Jewish leadership to the Jewish community to the rabbinate to our shared love for R’Chaim David HaLevy, and so much more, Jill Jacob wrote.
“One of the most honorable and moral men I have ever known has left us. A passionate leader, a great scholar, and a true mentsch. David Ellenson z”l, you have taught us all so much. We will miss you deeply”