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

December 19, 2006, New York, NY

According to their own telling, the early Jewish sages superseded the prophets, and thus replaced the prophetic voice with the interpretations of sacred texts. This story has played a central role in shaping Judaism ever since.

Rabbi Gordon Tucker, Senior Rabbi of Temple Israel Center in White Plains, New York, will explore what was lost in this transition, and whether or not it is retrievable, in "Can a People of the Book Also Be a People of God? Theological Musings in Memory of Gerson D. Cohen" at The Jewish Theological Seminary's Gerson D. Cohen Memorial Lecture. The event will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 18 at JTS, 3080 Broadway (at 122nd street) in New York City.

Rabbi Tucker and Dr. Cohen enjoyed an extremely close relationship that profoundly influenced Rabbi Tucker. "There was almost nothing Jewish that he (Gerson D. Cohen) didn't know encyclopedically and understand sensitively. But the really special magic of his vast command of so much was that it was never intimidating, but rather inspiring, as he intended it to be," said Rabbi Tucker.

"I consider Rabbi Tucker to be Gerson Cohen's intellectual and spiritual heir in many respects," said Stephen Axinn, a long–time member of JTS's Board of Trustees who studied with both Dr. Cohen and Rabbi Tucker. "There was an obvious bond between them."

In addition to serving at Temple Israel Center since August 1994, Rabbi Tucker is also Adjunct Assistant Professor of Jewish Philosophy at JTS and Honorary Chairman of the Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel. Rabbi Tucker has an AB from Harvard University, a PhD from Princeton University, and rabbinic ordination from JTS. He has taught at JTS since 1976, and in 1979–80 he served as a White House Fellow in the administration of President Jimmy Carter. From 1984 to 1992, Rabbi Tucker was the Dean of The Rabbinical School.

His numerous memberships have included the Committee on Law and Standards of the Rabbinical Assembly, the Board of Advisors of Jewish Lights Publishing, and the Board of Directors of UJA–Federation of New York. He has published many articles on Jewish philosophy and law and on Jewish affairs. He is the translator and editor of Heavenly Torah, a three–volume work by Abraham Joshua Heschel, published by Continuum Books in January 2005.

The annual Gerson D. Cohen Memorial Lecture was established in 1993 by The Honorable Howard M. Holtzmann, Honorary Chairman of the JTS Board of Trustees, as a tribute to the late Gerson D. Cohen, who served as Chancellor of JTS from 1972 to 1986. Advance reservations are necessary. Attendees are requested to arrive by 7:15 p.m. and to have photo identification.

For more information and to register, please call the JTS Department of Public Events at (212) 280–6093.

Editors/Reporters: To cover The Gerson D. Cohen Memorial Lecture, please contact Sherry Kirschenbaum in the Department of Communications at (212) 678–8953 or email.

Founded in 1886 as a rabbinical school, The Jewish Theological Seminary today is the academic and spiritual center of Conservative Judaism worldwide, encompassing a world–class library and five schools. JTS trains tomorrow's religious, educational, academic and lay leaders for the Jewish community and beyond.

Visit the JTS website at