Obviously I don't follow the inner workings of the Reforms with much regularity but when I saw this piece, I was surprised. I had always assumed Hebrew Union College was just one institution. There's three of them?
The board of governors of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion will meet next month to discuss various ways of dealing with the school's financial problems, including whether to keep open just one of its three campuses in Los Angeles, New York and Cinncinati, according to the Los Angeles Times. Other alternatives include merging some academic programs while keeping more than one campus open.
In a letter to members of the college community this week, president Rabbi David Ellenson said HUC-IJR faced a deficit this year of $3 million and was "in the most challenging financial position it has faced in its history -- even more so than during the Depression," because of declines in its endowment and in dues paid by Reform congregations around the country, among other funding problems.
I can't express much sympathy on this one. Reform is about lack of commitment. When I was a kid, the Reform group in my home town lacked a building so they met twice a month at the local JCC which gave them the social hall free of charge. For many years they tried to strike a building committee but everytime they mentioned to the members that their dues, which were dirt cheap since the only thing they had to pay for was a rabbi, might go up people threated to jump back to the Orthodox shul or the Conservatives. They weren't necessarily there because they believed in Reform principles, but so they could say they belonged to a synagogue and get rock bottom dues.
You can't create a religion based on lack of dedication to anything other than amorphous secular values and then complain when the financial base can't keep up with increasing demands in a time of crisis. This was inevitable.