139 episodes

The College Commons Podcast, passionate perspectives from Judaism's leading thinkers, is produced by Hebrew Union College, America's first Jewish institution of higher learning.

College Commons HUC-JIR

    • Religion & Spirituality
    • 4.7 • 21 Ratings

The College Commons Podcast, passionate perspectives from Judaism's leading thinkers, is produced by Hebrew Union College, America's first Jewish institution of higher learning.

    The Charlottesville Verdict: Taking Action in the Face of Extremism

    The Charlottesville Verdict: Taking Action in the Face of Extremism

    Civil litigation as a powerful tool against white supremacy.

    Amy Spitalnick is the Executive Director of Integrity First for America, the civil rights nonprofit that spearheaded the successful landmark lawsuit against the neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and hate groups responsible for the Charlottesville violence.

    Amy has extensive experience in government, politics, and advocacy, including as Communications Director and Senior Policy Advisor to the New York Attorney General and Communications Advisor and Spokesperson for the New York City Mayor. She has also worked for a number of federal, state, and local officials, campaigns, and advocacy organizations.

    Amy frequently appears in national media and has been awarded a number of fellowships and honors, including being named a Women inPower Fellow at the 92nd Street Y, a Truman National Security Project Fellow, and a City & State 40 Under 40 Rising Star. Amy graduated from Tufts University.

    • 22 min
    Social Justice Torah Commentary

    Social Justice Torah Commentary

    Advancing social justice through Torah.

    Rabbi Barry H. Block serves Congregation B'nai Israel in Little Rock, Arkansas. A Houston native and graduate of Amherst College, Rabbi Block was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York in 1991, and he received his DD, honoris causa, in 2016.

    A member of the CCAR Board of Trustees, currently serving as vice president of organizational relationships, Block is the editor of The Mussar Torah Commentary (CCAR Press, 2020), a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. He also contributed to several earlier CCAR anthologies, including Inscribed: Encounters with the Ten Commandments, The Sacred Exchange, The Sacred Encounter, Navigating the Journey, and A Life of Meaning: Embracing Reform Judaism's Sacred Path, and he is a regular contributor to the CCAR Journal.


    Rabbi Naamah Kelman was appointed Dean of the Taube Family Campus of HUC-JIR in Jerusalem on July 1, 2009. Previously, she served as Associate Dean.

    Ordained by HUC-JIR in Israel in 1992, Rabbi Kelman has devoted her career to strengthening the Reform Movement's outreach, community organizing, and Jewish education. She has been intensely involved in the emerging education system of the IMPJ and was among the founders of the first Progressive Day School, where she has overseen the development of curricular materials, teacher training programs, and family education. At HUC-JIR/Jerusalem, she has strengthened the Year-In-Israel Program for North American first-year rabbinical, cantorial, and education students, advanced professional development for the Israeli Rabbinical Program, and has been a catalyst for new and innovative programs in the areas of pluralistic Jewish education and pastoral counseling.


    Kristine Henriksen Garroway was appointed Visiting Assistant Professor of Bible at the HUC-JIR's Skirball Campus in Los Angeles in 2011. She received her doctorate in Hebrew Bible and Cognate Studies at the HUC-JIR/Cincinnati in 2009. She has spent time studying and researching in Israel and has participated in excavations at Ashkelon, Tel Dor, and Tel Dan.Garroway’s scholarship focuses on children using archaeology and texts of ancient Israel and Mesopotamia. She has published in various scholarly journals, and is a regular contributor to thetorah.com. Garroway’s books include: Children in the Ancient Near Eastern Household (Eisenbrauns 2014) and Growing Up in Ancient Israel: Children in Material Culture and Biblical Texts (Society of Biblical Literature 2018), and The Cult of the Child: the Death and Burial of Children in Ancient Israel (Oxford, forthcoming). She is the recipient of the Biblical Archaeological Society’s 2019 Publication Award for Best Book Relating to Hebrew Bible.

    • 31 min
    Rabbi Kari Tuling: Thinking about God in Jewish Terms

    Rabbi Kari Tuling: Thinking about God in Jewish Terms

    Feminism, intertextuality and 3000 years of making sense of God.

    Rabbi Kari Tuling received rabbinic ordination in 2004 and earned her PhD in Jewish Thought in 2013, both from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. She has served congregations in Connecticut, Indiana, New York, and Ohio, and has taught Jewish Studies courses at the University of Cincinnati and the State University of New York, Plattsburgh. She currently serves as the rabbi of Congregation Kol Haverim in Glastonbury, Connecticut. Recent publications include contributions to the CCAR Journal: Reform Jewish Quarterly, chapters in A Life of Meaning: Reform Judaism’s Sacred Path and Inscribed: Encounters with the Ten Commandments, both by the CCAR Press. Her first book, Thinking About God: Jewish Views, was published in 2020 by JPS/University of Nebraska Press.

    • 19 min
    Dr. Jonathan Sarna: Competing or Complementary? Americans and Jews

    Dr. Jonathan Sarna: Competing or Complementary? Americans and Jews

    Tension and compatibility in the long story of our Jewish and American identities.

    Dr. Jonathan D. Sarna is University Professor and Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University, where he directs the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies. He also chairs the Academic Advisory and Editorial Board of the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati and serves as Chief Historian of the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia.

    Author or editor of more than thirty books on American Jewish history and life, Dr. Sarna’s American Judaism: A History (Yale 2004), recently published in a second edition, won six awards including the 2004 “Everett Jewish Book of the Year Award” from the Jewish Book Council. His most recent books are (with Benjamin Shapell) Lincoln and the Jews: A History (St. Martin’s, 2015), and When General Grant Expelled the Jews (Schocken/Nextbook, 2012). Sarna’s annotated edition of Cora Wilburn’s previously unknown 1860 novel, Cosella Wayne (University of Alabama Press), has also just appeared.

    Dr. Sarna is married to Professor Ruth Langer and they have two married children.

    • 37 min
    Rabbi Wayne Allen: Jewish Thinking About Good And Evil

    Rabbi Wayne Allen: Jewish Thinking About Good And Evil

    Controversy, confusion and confidence in God’s goodness, from antiquity to present.

    After being graduated from New York University with a B.A. in philosophy and Phi Beta Kappa, Rabbi Wayne Allen, Ph.D. attended the Jewish Theological Seminary of America where he earned a Masters degree in Rabbinics and went on to receive rabbinic ordination. He served as a congregational rabbi for 35 years, taking on postings in New York City, Los Angeles, and Toronto. The Jewish Theological Seminary conferred an honorary Doctor of Divinity upon him for his years of dedicated service. Rabbi Allen was awarded a Masters degree in Philosophy from York University in Toronto where went on to earn his Ph.D.

    He has taught Jews and non-Jews of all ages in formal and informal settings including the American Jewish University, the University of Waterloo, the Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto, and Camp Ramah in California. Along with Harvey Haber he wrote Giving Thanks: Graces for All Occasions. Among his interests has been Jewish Law. As the author of Perspectives on Jewish Law and Contemporary Issues and Further Perspectives on Jewish Law and Contemporary Issues as well as editor of the first two volumes of Tomeikh keHalakhah, the responsa collection of the Union for Traditional Judaism, Rabbi Allen gained recognition as an authority on the application of Jewish legal principles in a modern context. He was a frequent panelist for Jewish Values On-line and has appeared on radio and television. Other interests include cantorial music – leading to the publication of his book on The Cantor: From Mishnah to Modernity – and mediating Judaism to inquiring minds, resulting in his book Prescription for an Ailing World.

    The most comprehensive book on the topic, "Thinking about Good and Evil: Jewish Views from Antiquity to Modernity" traces the most salient Jewish ideas about why innocent people seem to suffer, why evil individuals seem to prosper, and God’s role in such matters of (in)justice, from antiquity to the present.

    • 30 min
    Jewish Bible Translations: Personalities, Passions, Politics, Progress

    Jewish Bible Translations: Personalities, Passions, Politics, Progress

    Understanding bible translations as a key to Jewish history.

    Leonard J. Greenspoon holds the Philip M. and Ethel Klutznick Chair in Jewish Civilization at Creighton University, where he is also Professor of Theology and of Classical & Near Eastern Studies.

    Greenspoon is the editor of the 32-volume (and counting) Studies in Jewish Civilization series. He has also written five other books, in addition to his most recent one on Jewish Bible translations. Additionally, he has served on translation committees for five versions.

    In 2018, Greenspoon was the recipient of a Festschrift: Found in Translation: Essays on Jewish Bible Translation in Honor of Leonard J. Greenspoon. At the 2019 annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, he was the featured scholar honored in a section titled “Wisdom of the Ages.” For 2020, Greenspoon was named researcher of the year at Creighton.

    Examining a wide range of translations over twenty-four centuries, "Jewish Bible Translations: Personalities, Passions, Politics, Progress delves into the historical, cultural, linguistic, and religious contexts of versions in eleven languages: Arabic, Aramaic, English, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Russian, Spanish, and Yiddish. Greenspoon profiles many Jewish translators—among them Buber, Hirsch, Kaplan, Leeser, Luzzatto, Mendelssohn, Orlinsky, and Saadiah Gaon—framing their aspirations within the Jewish and larger milieus in which they worked. He differentiates their principles, styles, and techniques—for example, their choice to emphasize either literal reflections of the Hebrew or distinctive elements of the vernacular language—and their underlying rationales. As he highlights distinctive features of Jewish Bible translations, he offers new insights regarding their shared characteristics and their limits. Additionally, he shows how profoundly Jewish translators and interpreters influenced the style and diction of the King James Bible.

    • 29 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
21 Ratings

21 Ratings

Punkmouse ,

Intellectually stimulating AND heart warming

If you enjoy in-depth interviews of interest to the Jewish community that both stimulate the mind AND warm the heart, this is the podcast for you. Love it!

Ravgah ,

Give the guest some space

The host means well but simply can’t let the show be about the guest. He dominates the conversation. I felt sorry for the guest who could hardly get a word in; or at least he should be allowed to respond in full. The best host knows about tzimtzum. Less is more.

nicknamethatisnttaken! ,

Very interesting topics and discussion; too much cross-talk

Excellent, stimulating topics, host and guests. I think the podcast could be improved if it was talking over the guests by host - in podcast i.e. an audio format, it is difficult to hear what both people are saying at once.

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