Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Leaders Discuss Challenges Facing American Jews

Press Contact: Nina Jacobson
Office: (212) 678-8950
Email: nijacobson@jtsa.edu

October 7, 2008, Stamford, CT

Chancellor Arnold Eisen, Rabbi David Ellenson, and President Richard Joel, heads of the flagship educational institutions of the Conservative, Reform, and Orthodox communities in America, will discuss “Three Movements-One Future: Challenges Facing American Jews.” This Harold Hoffman Memorial Lecture will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 6 at Temple Beth El, 350 Roxbury Road, Stamford.

The round-table forum comes two days after the election of a new President of the United States and at a time when Americans are facing somber spiritual and economic challenges and continuing turbulence in the Middle East. Rabbi Joshua Hammerman, the synagogue’s spiritual leader, will serve as moderator.

Arnold M. Eisen is the seventh chancellor of The Jewish Theological Seminary. One of the world's foremost experts on American Judaism, Chancellor Eisen has worked closely for the past twenty years with synagogue and federation leadership around the country to analyze and address the issues of Jewish identity, the revitalization of Jewish tradition, and the redefinition of the American Jewish community. A product of the Conservative Movement, Chancellor Eisen has long been well known as a passionate advocate of strengthening the connection between American Jews and Israel. 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.

David Ellenson was ordained at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1977 and is the eighth president in the institution’s 133-year history. A distinguished rabbi and scholar, dedicated teacher, and committed leader of the Reform Movement, he has dedicated much of his academic career to studying and interacting with leaders of the other Jewish synagogue movements and researching the common roots and shared values of Judaism’s various streams. Internationally recognized for his publications and research in the areas of Jewish religious thought, ethics, and modern Jewish history, Rabbi Ellenson received his PhD from Columbia University and holds MA degrees from Columbia University, HUC-JIR, and the University of Virginia. He received his BA degree from the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

Richard M. Joel, a leader in the Orthodox Jewish community, was inaugurated in September, 2003 as Yeshiva University’s fourth president in its 118-year history. Since assuming the presidency, he has catalyzed a renewed focus on academic excellence, enriched student life, and broadened service to the Jewish and wider communities. Prior to his appointment, he served as the president and international director of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life. Joel received his BA and JD from New York University where he was a Root-Tilden law scholar. He was an assistant district attorney in New York, and deputy chief of appeals in the Bronx, New York. His career continued as associate dean and professor of Law at YU’s Benjamin's Cardozo School of Law.

The event is free and open to the public; a reception will follow. Further information about the event is available by contacting Steven Lander at (203) 322-6901 ext. 304. For information about JTS programs in Connecticut, contact Joan Goodman at (212) 678-8861.