Dr. Eugene B. Borowitz, the dean of American Jewish philosophers, received the Maurice N. Eisendrath Bearer of Light Award for Service to Reform Judaism, the Reform Jewish Movement's highest honor, on November 17th during the Union for Reform Judaism's Biennial Convention in Houston.
The Eisendrath Award is named for the former executive director and president of the Union, who served the organization from 1943 until his death in 1973. Past recipients of the Eisendrath Award include philanthropists Mark and Peachy Levy and celebrated composer Ben Steinberg.
Dr. Borowitz, Distinguished University Professor at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), has taught at the New York campus of HUC-JIR since 1962. He is a prolific author, having written or co-written seventeen books and numerous articles for a broad range of readers. His works include Renewing the Covenant: A Theology for the Postmodern Jew, the first systematic Jewish theology since Abraham Heschel's seminal publications of the 1950's; The Masks Jews Wear, which won the 1974 National Jewish Book Award in the field of Jewish thought; and the featured, comprehensive article on Judaism in the 16-volume Encyclopedia of Religion.
"Simply stated, Rabbi Borowitz has profoundly affected the way generations of Reform rabbis who have been privileged to be his students think about Jewish theology as they grapple with some of the most compelling questions people of faith must address," said Rabbi Lennard R. Thal, Senior Vice President of the Union for Reform Judaism. "More than that, from my perspective as a former student of his, I can confidently assert that, as a pedagogue, Rabbi Borowitz is in a class by himself."
Borowitz is widely known in the Jewish community as the former editor of Sh'ma: A Journal of Jewish Responsibility, a magazine of Jewish social concern he founded in 1970 and edited for 23 years.
The only Jew to serve as President of the American Theological Society, Borowitz also inaugurated the List Professorship of Jewish Studies at Harvard University Divinity School. He is Vice-President of the Jewish Publication Society, and has served as visiting professor of religion at colleges and universities including Columbia, Princeton, SUNY Stony Brook, Temple University, and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.
In 1996, the National Foundation for Jewish Culture honored Borowitz with its medal for Jewish Cultural Achievement in the realm of scholarship, the first time it had been awarded for work in the field of Jewish thought.
The conventions of the Union for Reform Judaism convention and the Women of Reform Judaism, held concurrently November 16-20 in Houston, drew more than 4,000 attendees from Reform congregations, who took part in worship opportunities, workshops, and lectures that will help them shape the future of the Reform Movement.
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