RICHARD S. SARASON is Director of the Pines School of Graduate Studies, Professor of Rabbinic Literature and Thought, and The Deutsch Family Professor of Rabbinics and Liturgy at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, OH, where he has been a faculty member since 1979. Prior to that time, he was Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Brown University, where he received his Ph.D. in Religious Studies in 1977. He was ordained at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Cincinnati, in 1974. He received his A.B. in Economics from Brandeis University in 1969, and was a visiting graduate student at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem from 1970 to 1972, while attending HUC-JIR.
He is the author of two academic books, A History of the Mishnaic Law of Agriculture: A Study of Tractate Demai (1979), and The Talmud of the Land of Israel: A Preliminary Translation and Explanation. Tractate Demai (1993), and a prayer book commentary for the Reform movement, Divrei Mishkan T’filah: Delving into the Siddur (2018), as well as numerous articles in the areas of classical rabbinic literature and thought (Mishnah, midrash, liturgy). He is the English translator (from the original Hebrew) of Joseph Heinemann, Prayer in the Talmud: Forms and Patterns (1977), and co-editor, with Jacob Neusner, of The Tosefta, translated from the Hebrew. First Division: Seder Zeraim. The Order of Agriculture. He served for fifteen years as Associate Editor of the Hebrew Union College Annual.
Dr. Sarason has taught at many Reform congregations around the country, and many programs of the Reform movement, among them URJ Summer Kallot, CCAR annual meetings and regional Kallot, Hadrachah Seminar for Lay Leadership, NATA certification program, Schindler Outreach Program, and Mifgash Musicale. He served as vice-chair, for HUC-JIR, of the Reform Movement’s Joint Commission on Worship, Synagogue Music, and Religious Living. He was a member of the Siddur Editorial Advisory Committee that worked on Mishkan T’filah, the current Reform prayer book, and was a special advisor to the editorial board that produced the current Reform Machzor, Mishkan HaNefesh. He is the recipient of the 2016 David Ellenson Faculty Award from the Women of Reform Judaism and the 2017 Shomeir Shirah (Guardian of Song) Award from the Guild of Temple Musicians. He is also an experienced choral musician with a strong interest in Jewish liturgical music.
He is married to Anne Arenstein; they have two sons, Jonathan (Yoni) and Michael.