“Talking About Israel, Educating for Israel: American Jewish Challenges and Opportunities”

JTS Chancellor, UJA-Federation CEO Commemorate Yom Ha’atzma’ut

Press Contact: Eve Glasberg
Office: (212) 678-8089
Email: evglasberg@jtsa.edu

April 14, 2011, New York, NY

The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) will sponsor a panel discussion entitled “Talking About Israel, Educating for Israel: American Jewish Challenges and Opportunities” on Yom Ha’atzma’ut, State of Israel Independence Day, Monday, May 9, 2011, at 7:30 p.m. The event will take place at JTS, 3080 Broadway (at 122nd Street), in New York City. Professor Arnold M. Eisen, chancellor of JTS, and Dr. John S. Ruskay, executive vice president and CEO of UJA-Federation of New York, will be the featured speakers. The moderator will be Dr. Barbara Mann, Simon H. Fabian Chair in Hebrew Literature and associate professor of Jewish Literature at JTS. Admission to the panel discussion is free, but reservations are required. To RSVP or for more information, go to www.jtsa.edu/israelindependenceday. Please arrive at least 15 minutes early to allow sufficient time for registration, and have photo ID available.

Chancellor Eisen and Dr. Ruskay will address the need for the creation of a new dialogue about Israel within the American Jewish community; a dialogue that is substantive, informed, and positive. They will also discuss the steps that the American Jewish community must take before such a conversation can begin in earnest. Both Chancellor Eisen and Dr. Ruskay will share personal stories of Israel that bound them tightly to the Jewish homeland, and how their experiences—communal, political, and existential—have influenced the nature of their identity as American Jews and their exercise of leadership of the Jewish community. Why do so many American Jews care so deeply about the Jewish State and worry about its future? How can we best persuade even more American Jews to increase their involvement with Israel? As the training ground for many of the present and future leaders of the American Jewish community, JTS is pledged to play a major role in this effort.

Arnold M. Eisen
Arnold M. Eisen, one of the world’s foremost experts on American Judaism, is the seventh chancellor of The Jewish Theological Seminary. Since his appointment in 2007, he has increased JTS’s impact on the communities it serves by transforming the education of religious leadership for Conservative Judaism and articulating a new vision for JTS.

Before coming to JTS, Chancellor Eisen served in the Department of Religious Studies at Stanford University, the Department of Jewish Philosophy at Tel Aviv University, and the Department of Religion at Columbia University. An award-winning writer and advocate for the Jewish community, the chancellor’s many publications include Taking Hold of Torah: Jewish Commitment and Community in America, a personal essay, and Galut: Modern Jewish Reflection on Homelessness and Homecoming (Modern Jewish Experience). He is a lifelong member of the Conservative Movement, and married to Dr. Adriane Leveen, a scholar of Hebrew Bible. The couple has two children, Shulie and Nathaniel.

John S. Ruskay
John S. Ruskay first came to UJA-Federation in 1993 and served in several positions before being appointed executive vice president and CEO in October 1999. After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 1968, Dr. Ruskay earned his doctorate in Political Science at Columbia University. He served as educational director of the 92nd Street Y from 1980 to 1985, and as vice chancellor of The Jewish Theological Seminary from 1985 to 1993. Dr. Ruskay has written extensively and speaks nationally on how the American Jewish community can most effectively respond to the challenges and opportunities of living in an open society, the critical role of Jewish philanthropy, and the central role of community. He has served as a senior consultant to the Wexner Foundation and the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Foundation, and has chaired the Publication Committee of the Journal of Jewish Communal Service and the Professional Advisory Committee of the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program. Dr. Ruskay is a recipient of the Bernard Reisman Award for Professional Excellence from Brandeis University’s Hornstein Program and the Mandelkorn Distinguished Service Award from the Jewish Communal Service Association of North America. On December 8, 2009, Dr. Ruskay’s 10th anniversary as executive vice president and CEO, and UJA-Federation’s work in that time, were commemorated with a symposium and a special issue of the Journal of Jewish Communal Service.

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