Chancellor Arnold M. Eisen to Keynote International Conference on Conservative Judaism in Israel

Press Contact: Nina Jacobson
Office: (212) 678-8950

December 15, 2009, New York, NY

Professor Arnold M. Eisen, chancellor of The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), will deliver the keynote address at the International Conference on Conservative Judaism: Halakhah, Culture and Sociology being held December 29–30 at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute (VLJI) in Israel.

Chancellor Eisen will speak on the topic of “Torah, Mitzvah, and Community: Charting the Future of Conservative Judaism.” He will also participate in the concluding symposium, “Halakhah and the Limits of Openness.”

Renowned as a leading intellectual center for the interdisciplinary study and discussion of issues related to philosophy, society, culture, and education, the VLJI established a research group of scholars from various disciplines who examined basic issues, processes, ideas, and phenomena associated with Conservative Judaism. The conference will showcase the studies prepared by this group and present new research conducted by renowned scholars from Israel and abroad with special emphasis on issues related to halakhah in the context of gender and culture.

Arnold M. Eisen, one of the world’s foremost experts on American Judaism, is the seventh chancellor of JTS. Since his inauguration in 2007, Chancellor Eisen has met with world leaders, engaged in prominent interdenominational and interfaith dialogues, and championed a transformation in the education of the next generation of Conservative leadership.

Among his early achievements, Chancellor Eisen led the development and implementation of new curricula that better prepares rabbis, cantors, and Jewish educators for the rapidly changing community of contemporary American Jews, and committed JTS to a higher standard of ecological responsibility. The Mitzvah Initiative, designed by Chancellor Eisen to engage Conservative Jews in thoughtful dialogue about “commandment, commandedness, and the Commander,” is taking place in nearly fifty congregations in North America with additional congregations signing on regularly.

Before coming to JTS, Chancellor Eisen was the Koshland Professor of Jewish Culture and Religion at Stanford University. He also served as senior lecturer in the Department of Jewish Philosophy at Tel Aviv University and assistant professor in the Department of Religion at Columbia University. Chancellor Eisen received a PhD in the History of Jewish Thought from Hebrew University; a BPhil in the Sociology of Religion at Oxford University; and a BA in Religious Thought from the University of Pennsylvania.

The Chancellor’s many publications include the book Taking Hold of Torah: Jewish Commitment and Community in America (1997), a personal essay; a historical work entitled Rethinking Modern Judaism: Ritual, Commandment, Community (1998); and The Jew Within: Self, Family and Community in America (2000), coauthored with sociologist Steven M. Cohen. He is currently writing a book that probes new possibilities for the meaning of Zionism.