JTS Book Talk to Feature Author of Louis Finkelstein and the Conservative Movement: Conflict and Growth

Press Contact: Nina Jacobson
Office: (212) 678-8950
Email: nijacobson@jtsa.edu

October 15, 2009, New York, NY

Rabbi Michael B. Greenbaum, vice chancellor and chief operating officer of The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), will discuss his recently republished book, Louis Finkelstein and the Conservative Movement: Conflict and Growth (JTS Press), a history of the Movement and a case study of mission conflict through an exploration of Finkelstein’s presidency of JTS between 1940 and 1955. The program will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 3, at JTS, 3080 Broadway (at 122nd Street), New York City.

Sponsored by The Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary, the event is part of The Library’s 2009–2010 series of book talks by JTS faculty. Dr. David Kraemer, Joseph J. and Dora Abbell Librarian and professor of Talmud and Rabbinics, will serve as moderator.

Louis Finkelstein and the Conservative Movement is a must-read for anyone wishing to understand how and why the Conservative Movement arrived at the crossroads at which it finds itself today. According to Professor Arnold Eisen, chancellor of JTS, “The volume is obviously required reading for anyone interested in the fascinating story of how a major institution of American Jewry related to the religious movement that it created. Finkelstein's dealings with the arms of Conservative Judaism teach us a great deal about that branch of Judaism, about JTS, and about what is gained and lost in the transition from ideals and ideas to the stuff of organizational life. It is a first-rate piece of history.”

Relying primarily on unpublished archival material, Louis Finkelstein and the Conservative Movement is the only book to put Dr. Finkelstein and JTS in historical context. Rabbi Greenbaum sheds new light on Finkelstein’s efforts to place JTS, a premier academic institution, as the head of the Conservative Movement, while at the same time maintaining its own identity as a builder of bridges between Jews and non-Jews, a priority not shared by the other arms of the Movement, the Rabbinical Assembly, and United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism at that time. The volume calls upon today’s leaders to find new ways to provide leadership to the many hundreds of thousands of individuals who identify with Conservative Judaism rather than repeating the same tired and unsuccessful efforts and approaches of their predecessors.

In addition to his responsibilities as chief operating officer, Rabbi Greenbaum works closely with Chancellor Eisen on a wide range of JTS issues. An expert in higher education administration, Rabbi Greenbaum has been acknowledged by both the Association of Theological Schools and the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. He has served as a member of the Association of Theological Schools' National Commission on Accrediting and the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association for several years. A graduate of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, Rabbi Greenbaum received a master of Education degree from Teachers College; a master of Hebrew Literature degree from JTS, where he was ordained; and a doctorate in Higher Education Administration from Columbia University.

Autographed copies of the book will be available for purchase. The talk is open to the community at no charge; reservations are required. For further information and to RSVP, please contact Hector Guzman at (212) 678-8075.