JTS chancellor decries decline of Judaism in US

By Ben Tinsley
bent@tjpnews.com


DALLAS — Dr. Arnold M. Eisen — largely considered one of the world’s foremost authorities on American Judaism — will explain why he thinks the forecasts of Jewish decline are very much wrong during an April 5 speech on the campus of Southern Methodist University.
Dr. Eisen is the seventh chancellor of The Jewish Theological Seminary. His April 5 presentation — from SMU’s Department of Religious Studies — is part of the 20th Nate and Ann Levine Endowed Lecture in Jewish Studies. It is titled, “Imagining A Vibrant Future For American Judaism.”
During a brief Tuesday email interview with the Texas Jewish Post, Dr. Eisen explained the significance of his forthcoming comments.
“I am going to explain why as a scholar of Judaism in the modern period, and particularly as an expert in American Judaism, I see a bright future for the American Jewish community,” he said. “Drawing on my experience as chancellor of JTS I will suggest ways we can maximize the opportunities at hand.”
Since he took office in 2007, Dr. Eisen has transformed the education of religious, pedagogical, professional, and lay leaders for Conservative Judaism and the vital religious center of North American Jewry — enhancing JTS’s reputation and global reach, according to online literature exploring his career.
Additionally, Dr. Eisen has expanded the digitization and online accessibility of historic and contemporary JTS and JTS Library resources, and launched learn.jtsa.edu and many additional JTS websites.
He has also established popular JTS social media sites as a means of extending the conversation that is Judaism among the generations, and discusses Jewish education, philosophy, and values on his blog, On My Mind, Arnie Eisen, available at http://bit.ly/1qfhj1B.
His April 5 speech will specifically be delivered in response to widespread forecasts of gloom and doom in the future, according to poster information.
Dr. Eisen will explain his opinion that the forecasts of Jewish decline are wrong, and how religious institutions of all sorts can thrive in coming decades.
Dr. Serge Frolov, professor of Religious Studies and the Nate and Ann Levine Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies at SMU, said Dr. Eisen will be speaking on a topic of great national and international interest.
As many as 200 people might possibly attend, he said.
“He (Dr. Eisen) is a big name in the study halls of modern America,” he said. “He has name recognition. … So I think we will have a good turnout here.”
The presentation begins at 7:30 p.m. April 5 at McCord Auditorium, 3225 University Blvd.
This is located on the third floor of Dallas Hall, the domed building at the north end of the SMU campus.
Surface parking will be free after 7 p.m.
Anyone requiring information about the presentation is asked to call 214-768-4478.

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