Politics, Religion

Rabbi Danny Nevins Appointed Dean of JTS Rabbinical School

JTS announced yesterday that Rabbi Danny Nevins, one of the authors of the “Dorff teshuvah” on homosexuality, has been appointed Dean of the Rabbinical School, to begin in July 2007. Thoughts?
A shout-out to JTS Chancellor-elect Arnie Eisen for at least trying to bring some transparency to JTS around this decision. JTS faculty, students, and staff are often among the last to know when JTS (or other Conservative institutions) have made an important decision. This time, students received a heads-up email from Eisen about Nevins’ appointment that said he wanted to make them aware of the press release that would go out later that day. Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, JTS flubbed the execution: Arnie’s email went out at 10:16 and the official press release went out at 10:22. Not Arnie’s fault, since he’s surely not sending out his own administrative emails these days, and certainly a sign of progress on the openness front. But JTS might want to aim for more than six minute’s notice in the future.

Contact: Sherry S. Kirschenbaum
(212) 678-8953 (office); (973) 650-6018 (mobile); or email.
[email protected]
New York, NY, January 29, 2007 — The Jewish Theological Seminary
announced today that Rabbi Daniel Nevins has been named the next Dean
of The Rabbinical School. The Jewish Theological Seminary is the
academic and spiritual center of Conservative Judaism worldwide.
Rabbi Nevins, who will assume his post on July 1, 2007, succeeds Rabbi
William Lebeau, who joined JTS as Vice Chancellor for Rabbinic
Development in 1988. Since then, he has served twice as Dean of The
Rabbinical School, from 1993-1999, and most recently from June 2004
until the present.
Rabbi Nevins is currently the Senior Rabbi of Adat Shalom Synagogue in
Farmington Hills, Michigan, where he previously served as Assistant
Rabbi. A 1994 graduate of The Rabbinical School, he received an MA in
Hebrew Letters from JTS in 1991 and a BA, magna cum laude, from
Harvard College in 1989, from where he also received an MA in history.
A native of New Jersey, Rabbi Nevins studied at Yeshivat HaMivtar in
Jerusalem, and was the recipient of the prestigious Wexner Foundation
Graduate Fellowship.
“I am delighted to announce the appointment of Rabbi Daniel
Nevins as the next Dean of The Rabbinical School,” said Arnold
M. Eisen, Chancellor-elect of JTS. “Rabbi Nevins brings to his
new tasks the wealth of experience, wisdom and compassion gained
during his thirteen years as a congregational rabbi in a thriving
community. He also impressed the Search Committee and me with his
energy, his ideas, and his passionate commitment to Torah, the Jewish
people, and Conservative Judaism. Danny’s deep appreciation for our
movement’s standards, its principles, and its pluralistic nature will
serve us well at this time of challenge and transition for the
movement. His years of work on the Rabbinical Assembly Law Committee
are a testament to his vision, his leadership, and his scholarship. I
am excited at the prospect of working with Rabbi Nevins as I assume
the leadership of JTS, certain that he will meet our challenges with
confidence and seize hold with both hands of the many opportunities
before us.”
“I am honored and excited by the opportunity to serve as Pearl
Resnick Dean of The Rabbinical School,” stated Rabbi Nevins.
“For the past thirteen years I have had an extraordinary
experience as Rabbi of Adat Shalom Synagogue. I have experimented in
the ultimate laboratory of Jewish life, learning what works through
the prism of countless pastoral, intellectual, and spiritual
interactions with my congregation. I will miss my community, but I
will take what I have learned from them to benefit the next generation
of rabbis. As Dean of The Rabbinical School, I look forward to working
with an extraordinary team of faculty, students, and administrators to
create a sacred place of Torah study and observance.”
Rabbi Nevins serves on the Rabbinical Assembly’s International
Executive Council and is a member of the RA’s Committee on
Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS) His halakhic writings include several
responsa approved by the CJLS as well as co-authorship of
“Homosexuality, Human Dignity and Halakhah,” a responsum
arguing for the normalization of the status of gay and lesbian Jews
that was approved by the CJLS last month. His many general Jewish
essays include, among others, “A Place Among the Mourners of
Zion,” an exploration of the history and meaning of a familiar
expression of comfort, published in Conservative Judaism (Summer
2006), and “Gadol Kvod HaBriot: Placing Human Dignity in the
Center of Conservative Judaism,” which appeared in Judaism
(Summer 2005), a quarterly journal published by the American Jewish
Rabbi Nevins is past President of the Michigan region of the
Rabbinical Assembly and serves on the Board of the Frankel Jewish
Academy of Metropolitan Detroit. Deeply committed to interfaith and
interreligious work, he is past President of the Farmington Area
Interfaith Association and the ecumenical Michigan Board of Rabbis,
and a member of the Board of the Detroit chapter of the Michigan
Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion. In May 2005, Rabbi Nevins led
a group of Protestant and Catholic leaders on a unique trip that
included Pope Benedict XVI’s first public audience, Yom Hasho’ah
(Holocaust Memorial Day) at Titus’s Arch in Rome, and a week in Israel
visiting Jewish and Christian holy places.
JTS is the premiere center for the academic and religious study of
Judaism and the Jewish experience in North America. It is the academic
center of Conservative Judaism with five schools dedicated to
educating the future leaders of the movement, be they clergy, Jewish
educators, or lay people.
Editors/Reporters: To schedule an interview with Rabbi Nevins or for
more information about The Jewish Theological Seminary, please contact
Sherry Kirschenbaum in the Department of Communications at (212)
678-8953 (office), (973) 650-6018 (mobile), or email.
[email protected]

6 thoughts on “Rabbi Danny Nevins Appointed Dean of JTS Rabbinical School

  1. How about bringing some transparency to the still undecided issue of accepting openly gay rabbinical students? Regardless of how qualified Rabbi Nevins might be for the position, this decision is clearly stacking the deck in favor of admitting openly gay rabbinical students.

  2. AviBenJakob asked: How about bringing some transparency to the still undecided issue of accepting openly gay rabbinical students? Regardless of how qualified Rabbi Nevins might be for the position, this decision is clearly stacking the deck in favor of admitting openly gay rabbinical students.
    I think you’re confusing the issues. There is clearly transparency on this micro issue– is there anyone who doesn’t know that Rabbi Nevins is in favor of equal ordination and commitment ceremonies?!
    As for “stacking the deck,” you attribute way more power to the Dean of Students than the office holds. If the Dean had the power to make decisions on this issue, JTS would have been admitting openly gay and lesbian students aeons ago. (The current dean, Rabbi Bill Lebeau, has been an open proponent of equal ordination.) Alas!

  3. Dr. Eisen and Rabbi Nevins are entitled to more respect.
    Referring to the chancellor elect as “Arnie” or the new dean
    as “Danny” shows little kevod.

  4. I always err on the side of calling people by their official titles if I don’t know them or nomenclatural preferences. I also think it’s reasonable and kavodich to call someone what they’ve asked you to call them. One of the lovely things about Chancellor-elect Eisen/Arnie is his refreshing informality and non-hierarchical way of being. I have no idea what he’ll ask people to call him in the JTS context, and I will more than certainly call him whatever he asks to be called, but in my previous dealings with him he has been Arnie.
    Honestly, I think it’s just different strokes for different folks on this one, and it’s only disrespectful if the person spoken of/to feels disrespected. I have worked and studied with some of the greatest Jewish rabbis and scholars of our era who have insisted on being called by their first names when people tried to call them by their titles. It really depends on the person.

  5. Oy, is this a great choice for the Conservative Movement and for the Seminary. Rabbi Danny Nevins is the ultimate rav. He’s brilliant beyond belief, and above all else he is a caring mentsch. This is a very bright moment for the Conservative Movement. We shall rise up again on the shoulders of Rabbi Nevins.
    As for the Seminary, they have selected the ideal Chancellor in Arnie Eisen and the ideal Rabbinical School Dean in Danny Nevins. If they can get a top notch Provost, we should all be optimistic about the future of JTS.

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