Conservative Judaism Today and Tomorrow
By Chancellor Arnold M. Eisen
JTS is proud to present Conservative Judaism Today and Tomorrow, a collection of short essays by Chancellor Arnold M. Eisen—seventh chancellor of The Jewish Theological Seminary and one of the world’s foremost authorities on American Judaism—that explore essential matters of Jewish belief, practice, community, and identity from a Conservative perspective.
“Our hope is that the essays will assist the reader in deciding where to stand on essential matters of Jewish belief and practice, and will help teachers charged with transmitting Jewish learning truthfully and passionately to perform that important task.” —Arnold M. Eisen, Chancellor, JTS
Costs and How to Order
- Hard copy: The collection is available in a beautifully designed print copy for $5; bulk pricing is available for communities. Order here.
- E-book: An Amazon e-book version is also available for $1.99. (Amazon’s Kindle eBooks can be read on any smartphone or tablet using a free Kindle app). Order here.
Short Videos and Curricular Resources
These materials are designed to be used in conjunction with the essays in the book.
Looking Back, Looking Forward
Acknowledgments: Core resources by Rabbi Nelly Altenburger
A Taste of What’s Inside
“The commitment that 21st-century Jews make to the life of mitzvah is decidedly countercultural. We moderns are raised to prize autonomy, resist authority, and jealously guard options. The very notion of commandment—let alone commandment from God—seems antithetical to personal freedom, an affront to self that many contemporary Americans approach warily . . .
A great many Conservative Jews resolutely take the ‘leap of action’ to mitzvah despite cultural directions to the contrary . . . More than duty alone inspires Jews to make sacrifices on behalf of Israel or the Jewish education of their children. More than abstract obligation drives them to devote hours beyond number to service of synagogues, schools, Federations, or other causes. Belief in the Revelation at Sinai is also not what motivates most Jews, most of the time, to undertake these and other responsibilities.
We do such things—and take on many of the mitzvot we perform—because we are grateful for the life that Torah makes possible, thankful that we have resources that we can share, pleased that we have the chance to give back to our community, loyal to the ways of parents or grandparents, in love with the life that Judaism makes possible . . . Some Jews act in obedience to God. Some heed conscience. Others believe that God speaks to them through conscience—or in the voice of the community . . .
That is why commandment is not an adequate translation of mitzvah, any more than good deed captures the matter. Mitzvah means so much more than either of these. It is, like Torah itself, a pattern, an ennobling source of wholeness, a way.”
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