On My Mind: Arnie Eisen

Archive for September, 2011

Looking Back, Looking Forward: For My Students

/ 23 Elul 5771

Chancellor Arnold Eisen

It’s been nearly 60 years since Marshall Sklare referred to Conservative Judaism in his pioneering sociological study—Conservative Judaism: An American Religious Movement—as “Orthodoxy in transition,” and almost 40 since Sklare’s afterword to the book’s second edition expressed surprise that the Conservative Movement had not only held its own in the meantime but become, by far, the most successful American Jewish denomination. I cannot make that claim today. Just as social and cultural forces assisted the rise of Conservative Judaism over many decades in the 20th century, such forces (and others, too) now help to weaken affiliation with Conservative (and other) synagogues, schools, and organizations. What I can say, however—and want to stress as we conclude this particular series of blog conversations and look forward to the future—is that Conservative Judaism now, as much as ever, has the message and the means to make a major impact on the ways Jewish tradition is taught, practiced, and revitalized in North America and beyond.
Read the rest of this entry »

The Value of Denominations in Judaism

/ 15 Elul 5771

Chancellor Arnold Eisen

Almost every time I speak at a synagogue or other venue about Conservative Judaism, someone asks why we need multiple Jewish denominations. We Jews are so few, the argument goes; resources are scarce. Why should our community weaken itself further by dividing into competing religious movements? Shouldn’t we, at long last, try to unite? Why can’t we just be—Jews?
Read the rest of this entry »