Skirball Founder Tapped To Head Pardes Institute


Rabbi Leon Morris has been appointed president of the Pardes Institute, a non-denominational learning community in Israel. A Pardes student from 1995-96, Rabbi Morris is the first alumnus to hold the school’s top position.  He will take the helm on June 1.

According to the Pardes website Rabbi Morris, who is based out of Israel, “will provide the vision and overall educational and strategic leadership for Pardes and work with the faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors and partners to further the organization’s mission, goals and objectives.” Rabbi Morris will also be charged with developing Pardes’ short- and long-term learning opportunities in Israel, North America and globally, expanding the Pardes Center for Jewish Educators and overseeing the completion of the new Pardes building.

“Pardes is a Jewish spiritual and intellectual home for me, and this appointment is a homecoming,” Rabbi Morris said in an announcement on the Pardes website. “What an enormous privilege it will be to contribute to its growth and continued success. Together with an incredibly talented team, we will leverage Pardes’ resources, its students and alumni to transform the future of Jewish life.”

Ordained by Hebrew Union College in 1997 where he served as a Wexler Graduate Fellow, Rabbi Morris has worked with the Jewish community of India, having served as Jewish Service Corps volunteer for the American Joint Distribution Committee beginning in 1990.

He joins Pardes from the Shalom Hartman Institute where he currently serves as vice president for North American programs in Israel. He is also a faculty member of Hebrew Union College. Rabbi Morris made Aliyah with his family in June 2014, after serving as the rabbi of Temple Adas in Sag Harbor, L.I. He was also the founding director of the Skirball Center for Adult Jewish Learning at Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan. Rabbi Morris has taught at Orthodox, Conservative and Reform institutions, is a regular contributor to the Jewish, U.S. and Israeli press, and is an editor of the new Reform High Holy Day prayer book, “Mishkan HaNefesh.”

“We are thrilled to appoint a Pardes alumnus as President of the institution,” Sherwin Pomerantz, Israel Board Chair and Deborah Shapira, North America Board Chair, said in a joint statement. “Rabbi Morris understands Pardes at its core, and articulates an exciting vision for its future. We look forward to working with him and seeing it come to life.”