Rabbi David Ellenson

David EllensonDoctor of Humane Letters

Internationally recognized for his publications and research in the areas of Jewish religious thought, ethics, and modern Jewish history, Rabbi David Ellenson served as president and, later, chancellor emeritus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

Ellenson wrote extensively on Orthodox Judaism, the relationship between religion and state in Israel, the history of modern Jewish religious movements, and American Jewish life. A leader of the Reform movement of Judaism in the United States, he was a staunch advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights, women’s rights, and religious pluralism. He was also passionately committed to the people and the state of Israel, and strengthened the central role Israel plays in the Reform movement.

From 2015-18, Ellenson was director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies and a visiting professor in the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis. Previously, he headed the Louchheim School for Judaic Studies, the undergraduate Jewish studies program at the University of Southern California.

Ellenson died on Dec. 7, 2023, shortly after being informed he would receive an honorary degree at Brandeis, an award he greatly appreciated. May his memory be for a blessing.