The Jewish Theological Seminary has appointed Dr. Burton L. Visotzky to serve as the director of the Louis Finkelstein Institute for Religious and Social Studies of JTS (LFI). Dr. Visotzky, who directed the institute from 1995 to 1997, will develop programs on both public policy and interreligious dialogue.
Rabbi Leonard Sharzer, MD will continue to coordinate LFI programming in bioethics, with the new title of associate director for bioethics.
“I am pleased to return to the directorship of LFI,” says Dr. Visotzky. “I look forward to implementing Chancellor Arnold Eisen’s vision of Jewish learning that is intimately connected to the world. I hope to emphasize the original vision of LFI to apply the wisdom of America’s religious communities and traditions to matters that affect us here and abroad.”
The Appleman Professor of Midrash and Interreligious Studies at JTS, Dr. Visotzky joined the faculty immediately following his ordination into the rabbinate in 1977. He also served as associate and acting dean of The Graduate School of JTS, and as the founding rabbi of JTS’s egalitarian worship service in the Women’s League Seminary Synagogue.
Dr. Visotzky was a visiting faculty member at, among other institutions, Clare Hall, University of Cambridge, Oxford University, and Union and Princeton theological seminaries. In addition, he served as the Master Visiting Professor of Jewish Studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
Dr. Visotzky consulted with Bill Moyers and was a featured participant in the ten-hour PBS television series, Genesis: A Living Conversation, which premiered in 1996. He has authored nine books and written more than 100 articles and reviews. His work continues to be published in America, Europe, and Israel.
Dr. Visotzky serves on the boards of Fordham Law School’s Stein Center for Law and Ethics and the Journal for InterReligious Dialogue and on J-Street’s National Advisory Council. He is a member of the New Israel Fund Rabbinic Council’s steering committee and the American Jewish World Service Education Committee and Rabbinic Council, and sits on the advisory board of Auburn Seminary’s Center for Multifaith Education.
Internationally, Dr. Visotzky is engaged in Jewish-Christian-Muslim dialogue in capitals such as Washington DC, Warsaw, Rome, Cairo, Doha (where he was in the first group of Jews invited by Qatar’s emir), and Madrid (where he was in the first group of Jews invited by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia).
Since 1938, the Louis Finkelstein Institute of JTS has maintained an innovative interfaith and intergroup relations program that emphasizes conversation among diverse communities. The institute’s ability to unite voices from different academic, social, and religious communities has resulted in singular conferences and interfaith cooperation and brought the relevance of Judaism and other religions to prominence on a myriad of issues.