The Jewish Theological Seminary Appoints Prominent Rabbi to Serve in New Leadership Role

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 14, 2020
CONTACT: Beth Mayerowitz,

September 14, 2020 — New York, NY The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), one of the world’s preeminent centers of Jewish higher education and the intellectual and spiritual center of Conservative Judaism, is proud to announce that Rabbi Gordon Tucker, a distinguished scholar, gifted teacher, and inspiring spiritual leader, has joined JTS as Vice Chancellor for Religious Life and Engagement. In this newly created position, Rabbi Tucker will work to further enhance Jewish life at JTS, enriching the institution’s study of Judaism with the joy and deep understanding that only lived experience can provide. As a leading scholar and interpreter of Conservative Judaism, Rabbi Tucker will also articulate the enduring power of JTS’s compelling approach to Jewish law and Jewish life. And he will strengthen JTS’s religious leadership in the Jewish world through partnerships with organizations in the Conservative Movement and beyond.

His new role brings Rabbi Tucker back to JTS, where he served as the dean of the Rabbinical School from 1984 – 1992. He was ordained at the school in 1975, after earning an A.B. degree at Harvard College, and served on the JTS faculty for many years. He also earned a Ph.D. in Philosophy at Princeton University.  He served as chair of the board of the Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel and as a member of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Rabbinical Assembly.

“I could not be more thrilled to welcome Rabbi Tucker back to the JTS family in this senior leadership role,” said Dr. Shuly Rubin Schwartz, chancellor of The Jewish Theological Seminary. “He is not only a world-recognized scholar and theologian, but a cherished colleague, friend, and mentor to so many. His writings and teachings have inspired students, congregants, and the collective Jewish people throughout the years, and I have no doubt that his impact in this new role will be felt for years to come.”

“JTS has been a constant intellectual and spiritual source for me from my student years through the decades of my rabbinic career,” notes Rabbi Tucker.  “I am excited and privileged to have this opportunity to repay that enormous debt by reinforcing for all JTS students, and for the Jewish world at large, the deep connection between scholarship and a vibrant and ethical religious life. Although I have never entirely left JTS, this is a joyous homecoming for me.”

Following his tenure as Rabbinical School dean, Rabbi Tucker moved to congregational life, serving for 24 years as senior rabbi of one of North America’s foremost Conservative congregations, Temple Israel Center in White Plains, NY. Under his leadership, the synagogue flourished and was characterized by vibrant communal life and an exceptional devotion to Jewish learning. While at Temple Israel Center, Rabbi Tucker also mentored numerous JTS Rabbinical School students who worked at the synagogue as part of the school’s prestigious Gladstein Fellowship in Entrepreneurial Rabbinic Leadership. He served, as well, as an adjunct JTS faculty member, teaching courses in Jewish thought and ethics, the history and philosophy of Conservative Judaism, and leadership skills for rabbis. Today Rabbi Tucker is Temple Israel Center’s senior rabbi emeritus and a senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America.

Rabbi Tucker has written on a wide range of subjects in Jewish thought and recently authored a commentary to the well-known rabbinic wisdom text, Pirkei Avot, with Rabbi Tamar Elad-Appelbaum. He has published a translation with commentary, entitled Heavenly Torah, of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel’s major three-volume Hebrew work on rabbinic theology. And in 2014, Rabbi Tucker published Torah for its Intended Purpose, an anthology of his writings including essays, sermons, and reviews over the course of many years. 


About The Jewish Theological Seminary

JTS is a preeminent institution of Jewish higher education, training thoughtful, innovative leaders—rabbis, cantors, educators, lay leaders, and scholars—who strengthen our communities with a vision of Judaism that is deeply grounded in the Jewish past and thoroughly engaged with contemporary society. JTS also provides high-caliber, lifelong learning and professional development to our alumni, adult learners, and Jewish communities throughout North America. Through its Library, JTS preserves and makes accessible to students and scholars throughout the world the greatest collection of Judaica in the Western Hemisphere.