JTS to Present “Abraham Joshua Heschel: The Call of Transcendence” Author Rabbi Shai Held in Conversation with JTS Chancellor Arnold Eisen

Press Contact: Beatrice Mora
Office: (212) 678-8950
Email: bemora@jtsa.edu

January 9, 2014, New York, NY

The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) will present a discussion, "Abraham Joshua Heschel: The Call of Transcendence," with author Rabbi Shai Held in conversation with JTS Chancellor Arnold M. Eisen on Thursday, January 23, 2014, at 7:30 p.m., at JTS (3080 Broadway at 122nd Street) in New York City. The program is cosponsored by Mechon Hadar. Admission is free, but reservations are required. RSVP at www.jtsa.edu/heschel. Please arrive at least 15 minutes early to allow sufficient time for check-in, and have photo ID available.

Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907–1972), who served on the faculty of JTS for more than a quarter century, was a prolific scholar, impassioned theologian, and prominent activist who participated in the African American Civil Rights Movement and the campaign against the Vietnam War. He has been hailed as a hero, honored as a visionary, and endlessly quoted as a devotional writer. But rarely has his writing been subject to careful analysis that is at once sympathetic and critical. Rabbi Shai Held's new book, Abraham Joshua Heschel: The Call of Transcendence, has been called a "watershed" in this regard, and Rabbi Arthur Green writes that "in Shai Held, Abraham Joshua Heschel has found the reader he so richly deserves." Harvard's Jon D. Levenson has written, "In this lucid and elegant study, one of the keenest minds in Jewish theology in our time probes the vision of one of the most profound spiritual writers of the twentieth century . . . ."

Rabbi Held's work focuses on the idea of self-transcendence, or the movement from self-centeredness to God-centeredness. He puts Heschel into dialogue with contemporary Jewish thinkers, Christian theologians, devotional writers, and philosophers of religion. Join us for this illuminating discussion of Heschel's thought and what it can mean for us today.

Rabbi Shai Held is an alumnus of JTS (The Rabbinical School '99; The Graduate School '99) and cofounder, dean, and chair in Jewish Thought at Mechon Hadar. Before that, he served for six years as scholar-in-residence at Kehilat Hadar in New York City, and taught both theology and halakhah at The Jewish Theological Seminary. He also served as director of education at Harvard Hillel. A renowned lecturer and educator, Rabbi Held, who earned a PhD in Religion from Harvard University, is a 2011 recipient of the Covenant Award for excellence in Jewish education, and has served on the faculty of both the Wexner Foundation and the Shalom Hartman Institute. During the spring 2014 semester, Rabbi Held will be serving as an adjunct instructor of Professional and Pastoral Skills at JTS.  

Professor Arnold M. Eisen, one of the world's foremost authorities on American Judaism, is the seventh chancellor of The Jewish Theological Seminary. Since his appointment in 2007, he has transformed the education of religious, pedagogical, professional, and lay leaders for Conservative Judaism and the vital religious center of North American Jewry, and enhanced JTS's notable reputation and global reach. Chancellor Eisen's many publications include Rethinking Modern Judaism: Ritual, Commandment, Community and Taking Hold of Torah: Jewish Commitment and Community in America, a personal essay. His JTS initiatives include dual-track degrees for rabbis and cantors; programs in early childhood, experiential, adult, and Israel education; an ambitious Arts Initiative; the Center for Pastoral Education; and the Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue.