Beth El Temple to Host Community-Wide Lecture

JTS Chancellor to Focus on Need to Create New Relevance for Youth

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

March 4, 2009, West Hartford, CT

Professor Arnold M. Eisen, chancellor of The Jewish Theological Seminary, will discuss "It's Not Your Parents' Conservative Judaism, But Will It Be Your Children's?" at a community-wide lecture at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 25. The event, which will take place at Beth El Temple, 2626 Albany Avenue, West Hartford, is open to the community at no charge.

"I have to address the young," stated Chancellor Eisen. "[Abraham Joshua] Heschel authorized my rebellion. He spoke to me personally and said, ‘Religion has become irrelevant, oppressive, insipid, and dull' (from the first paragraph of God in Search of Man). He spoke to me with that message and implicitly said (and then he said to me in person when I got to meet him), ‘Go change it.'"

"We are pleased that Chancellor Eisen has chosen to visit our community so that our congregants can learn from one of the important leaders of the Conservative Movement. We are looking forward to hearing his views about Judaism in the US in the twenty-first century, especially as many of our local leaders, both clergy and lay leaders, are familiar with his impressive scholarship and dynamic ideas for Conservative Judaism," said Alan Parker, president of Emanuel Synagogue, West Hartford.

Chancellor Eisen's presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer period featuring students from the Solomon Schechter Day School of West Hartford.

Arnold M. Eisen, one of the world's foremost experts on American Judaism, is the seventh chancellor of The Jewish Theological Seminary. 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 has appointed a new vice chancellor, provost, and deans; led the development and implementation of new curricula that will better prepare 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," began in six synagogues around the country and in 2009 will spread to dozens of synagogues, camps, schools, and organizations throughout the continent.

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. He served as the Koshland Professor of Jewish Culture and Religion at Stanford University, 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's publications include four scholarly works about Judaism in the modern world as well as a personal essay, Taking Hold of Torah: Jewish Commitment and Community in America.

Connecticut community partners include Beth El Temple; Beth Hillel Synagogue, Bloomfield; B'nai Abraham, Meriden; Congregation Adath Israel, Middletown; Congregation B'nai Israel, Vernon; Congregation B'nai Sholom, Newington; Congregation Tikvoh Chadoshoh, Bloomfield, Emanuel Synagogue, West Hartford; Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford; Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Hartford; Temple Beth Sholom, Manchester; United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Connecticut Valley Region; the University of Connecticut; and the University of Hartford. Temple Beth El of Springfield, Massachusetts, is also a community partner.

Reservations are requested. For further information and to RSVP, please contact Joan Goodman, director of JTS's Northeast Region, at (212) 678-886, or Carres Deer at (860) 233-9696.