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Now you can read the transcript, watch the video, or listen to the podcast of Chancellor Arnold M. Eisen speak about the future of The Jewish Theological Seminary at the 116th Commencement on May 17, 2010:


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We at The Jewish Theological Seminary have spent much of the past eighteen months thinking about the future and reassessing our goals. It is clear that the present moment offers many challenges to both their planning and achievement. We are convinced, however, that it also offers unprecedented opportunities.


We begin with the conviction that now, as at previous turning points in the life of North American Jewry over the past century, the keys to success in meeting challenge and seizing hold of opportunity are learning, leadership, and vision. An in-depth, clear, and nuanced understanding of the Jewish past, combined with a firm grasp of present-day dilemmas and complexities, can equip Jewish leaders to shape a future for Jews and Judaism that is both vital and authentic. We must chart a way of learning and living Torah in our generation that is at once deeply grounded in the experience and wisdom of our ancestors and thoroughly responsive to contemporary needs and sensibilities.


To that end, we have developed a new JTS mission statement that defines our purpose and sets our future direction. We have thought carefully about the principles under which JTS will operate, and have made sure that the innovation introduced carries forward JTS’s historic legacy of learning and service. For over a century, JTS has provided Conservative Judaism and the vital religious center of North American Jewry with a vision of what Judaism has been and can be, and trained leaders to guide their communities in pursuit of that vision. We shall continue and expand this role—and shall likewise redouble our efforts to reach the entire Jewish community and the world beyond—with the age-old teachings and wisdom of our tradition, brought to bear on contemporary dilemmas and concerns.


JTS has always sought to conserve Judaism faithfully by changing it faithfully. This task must be carried out today as well—carefully but resolutely, lovingly but boldly. The new mission statement—and the changes in policy and program that flow from it—are all directed to that end. Read More »