On My Mind: Arnie Eisen

Archive for June, 2011

Continuing the Conversation: Learning

/ 26 Sivan 5771

Chancellor Arnold Eisen

The sting of Jordan’s post is keenly felt by me and most Jewish educators I know. He reminds me that I am speaking to a relatively small number of Jews. The great majority are untouched by Torah, unable to appreciate Jewish learning, uninterested in challenging themselves to move closer—and couldn’t care less about this community or its conversation. They can’t be persuaded by pieces they don’t read.
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Joining the Conversation of Torah

/ 19 Sivan, 5771

Chancellor Arnold Eisen

The basic requirements of Conservative Jewish learning—regardless of venue, level, or age-group—follow directly from the Movement’s distinctive vision, outlined in the previous postings:

Conservative Judaism speaks forcefully, honestly, and authentically to contemporary dilemmas, in the conviction that the Torah, properly interpreted for changed conditions, offers the wisdom needed to guide us through present-day complexities.

Our Movement maintains that the diversity of voices sounding forth from the sacred texts of our tradition, and the variety of ways Jews in the past have applied the Torah’s teachings to new circumstances, are essential to the Jewish future.

Conservative Judaism believes that proper interpretation and practice of the Torah emerges from the rich encounter between learned and observant Jewish communities and the larger societies and cultures in which Jews participate.
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Learning Theory

/ 12 Sivan, 5771

Chancellor Arnold Eisen

The questions facing every Jew and every generation of Jews are these: What role will we play in fulfilling the age-old covenant linking Jews to one another, to God, and to the world? What word will we say in the conversation begun at Sinai? What chapter will we write in the story that goes back to Abraham and Sarah?

One cannot answer these questions responsibly without serious Jewish learning. Our knowledge of how Jews have lived and taught Torah until now must be broad and deep enough to be adequate to the challenge of teaching and living Torah now and in the future. That challenge includes the momentous questions posed by every serious human being: How shall I use my time on earth well? How can I be a good person? How can I make sure I leave the world better than I found it? How should I think about and serve God? Jewish human beings want answers to these questions as well as the others I have named. We need the answers. That is what drives Jewish learning.
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Continuing the Conversation

/5 Sivan, 5771

Chancellor Arnold Eisen

I’m gratified and energized by the responses—long and short, favorable and critical—to my posts thus far. Conservative Judaism needs this kind of debate and discussion. JTS will continue to facilitate it by means of this blog and in other forums, live and virtual.
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