On My Mind: Arnie Eisen

Response to “The Value of Denominations in Judaism” From Adam Roffman

I applaud the chancellor for his very brave statement that he is a Conservative Jew because he “believe[s] strongly that our kind of Judaism more than any other gets the Torah right.” At the same time, I believe he hints at another important principle: Jews should choose their denominational affiliation based on what they actually believe to be the truth about the nature of Jewish religious practice, the authority of Jewish texts, and the type of worship they find most effective and authentic. It follows, then, that if Jews are beginning to question the existence of denominations, it is because the lines have become too blurry, except for those in the clergy. Perhaps those of us in positions of religious leadership are being less clear about what we stand for (which, I believe, is why this blog plays such a vital role). It’s time to end the perception that denominations do, in fact, represent some kind of competition. If we are truly confident in what we believe, and at the same time really value collaboration between and validation of our fellow movements of “the vital center,” we must not fear that this kind of clarity may send Jews on a search for where on the Jewish spectrum they really belong. Instead, we can, finally, rejoice along with them when they find their place.