Politics, Religion, Sex & Gender

it's (almost) official

According to a stop-the-press article in the Forward (and additional sources who have asked to remain anonymous), the Jewish Theological Seminary is poised to select Professor Arnie Eisen as its new Chancellor. Alas, poor Gordon Tucker. The Rooftopper Rav is cautiously optimistic, however. Professor Eisen is generally perceived to be a true mensch, a religious Jew in many senses, an excellent scholar and teacher, and someone who is intimately aware of developments in contemporary American Jewish life. What seems less well known is where Professor Eisen stands on critical policy/halakhic issues rocking the Conservative Movement, such as ordination and marriage equality for LGBTQ Jews in the Conservative Movement.
Who’s familiar with Professor Eisen’s hashkafa? His connections (or lack thereof) to the Conservative Movement? Can he revolutionize the Movement?
(And is the Forward just on crack?)
MOTZA”SH UPDATE: The Times ran an article this morning reporting the same thing. They also declared that “… Conservative leaders have been striving to find a balance between those who advocate more rigorous observance and those who want to liberalize worship and permit, for example, more participation by women and homosexuals.” As a passionately observant Jew and a passionate advocate of full equality for all humans, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation, this false dichotomy makes me insane. But that’s a subject for another post. In the meantime, go re-read BZ’s excellent post on cognitive frames.

8 thoughts on “it's (almost) official

  1. No Smicha, but his research in conjunction with Ari Keller and Stephen Cohen has been pretty spot on in terms of seeing where things are headed Jewishly for our generation. I can’t comment on his Halachic chops, but he is an academic of a spiritual sort who has his thumb on the pulse of the american jewish zeitgeist.
    Not sure how it will translate to the GLBT debate, but my sense from what I gather of him from his books and articles, is that he would see it as part of a larger issue of movement relevance to our generation. And institutional relevance too. He’d pro’lly embrace entrepreneurial Jewish initiatives, including independent minyanim, as a key to the movement’s continuity under the umbrella of pluralism. His selection could be a very good thing for the movement. He understands what’s going on culturally and he’ll be a breath of fresh air.

  2. I agree. I had a lot of correspondence with Eisen when I was applying to grad schools (Stanford was one of the places I looked at), and he really is not only a top-notch scholar, but a really great guy.
    He could be a great asset to the movement.

  3. No smicha, no fundraising experience, no institution-building or -leading experience, no Conservative Movement yichis, he might be a really great guy who did some really nifty research but that doesn’t get you very far.
    I guess the only good news might be that he’s not intended to be the savior of the Conservative Movement but just an enlightened leader of an IMHO pretty great University. But that still leaves the Movement headed for the cataracts.

  4. “J. J. Goldberg, the editor of The Forward, said that Dr. Eisen in his public speeches has advocated ‘taking the social liberalism that’s common in the Jewish community and tying it closer to the religious roots of Judaism and bringing the two threads together.'”. . . leading inexorably, with added pressure from the Seminary’s worsening financial crisis, to a merger with the Reform Movement and shortly thereafter the appearance of the Moshiach.
    Now that I think about it, I guess that is a brilliant hire . . .

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