The tension-fraught mission conflict in religiously affiliated institutions of higher education is the focus of Louis Finkelstein and the Conservative Movement: Conflict & Growth (JTS Press), a history of the Movement and a case study of mission conflict through an exploration of Finkelstein's presidency of The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) between 1940–1955.
A must-read for anyone wishing to understand how and why the Conservative Movement arrived at the crossroads at which it finds itself today, the book is written by Rabbi Michael B. Greenbaum, vice chancellor and chief operating officer of JTS.
"The volume is obviously required reading for chancellors of JTS. But it should also be 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. A first-rate piece of history," said Professor Arnold M. Eisen, chancellor of JTS.
Relying primarily on unpublished archival material, Louis Finkelstein and the Conservative Movement is the only book to put Dr.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. He has been named one of the "Top 50 Influential Rabbis in America" by Newsweek magazine for the past two years and a "very good scholar of the Conservative movement" by Jeffrey Goldberg on TheAtlantic.com.
Rabbi Greenbaum's expertise in higher education administration has been acknowledged by both the Association of Theological Schools and the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. He served for four years as a member of the Association of Theological Schools' National Commission on Accrediting and completed a five-year term on the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association as a commissioner and member of the Executive Committee. 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.
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