Modern Jewish Theology Scholars to Honor Dr. Eugene B. Borowitz on 85th Birthday - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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Modern Jewish Theology Scholars to Honor Dr. Eugene B. Borowitz on 85th Birthday

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Goldner - Panken Symposium to feature Rabbi David Ellenson
and international panel, including Dr. Borowitz, Rabbi Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi, Simon Cooper, and Rabbi Jonathan Crane


Dr. Eugene B. Borowitz, the internationally recognized father of Modern Jewish theology, will be honored on the occasion of his 85th birthday with a symposium exploring the impact of his religious thought on American Jewry.  The Goldner-Panken Symposium will take place on February 17, 2009 at 10:45 a.m at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, One West 4th Street, New York.

Dr. Borowitz wrote a groundbreaking article for Commentary in 1962 that challenged the contemporary Jewish community, then characterized by a belief in universalism and an overarching commitment to prophetic Judaism’s teachings of social justice, for their agnosticism and need for theology. According to Dr. Borowitz, the transformation of the Jewish community to embrace spirituality and place God in our lives has reached a climax today. As the father of modern Jewish theology over two generations ago, he views this symposium metaphorically as a meeting with his grandchildren.

The symposium format will be inspired by the Talmudic relationship described in Baba Metzia 84a, in which Rabbi Yochanan’s beloved study partner, Resh Lakish, with whom he sparred in perpetual disagreement, died.  The Rabbis, discerning Rabbi Yochanan’s depression, sent their keenest colleague to study with him, but he always found sources that agreed with Yochanan’s opinions.  Angered by his compliance, Rabbi Yochanan said, “I know I am right.  When Resh Lakish was alive, he raised 24 objections questions and I gave him 24 answers, which led to a fuller comprehension of the law.”  In the spirit of increasing Torah in this symposium, Rabbi David Ellenson will introduce several guest scholars who will address an aspect of Dr. Borowitz’s thought and ask a question of their teacher and mentor. 

Rabbi Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi, faculty member and Director of the Center for Leadership Education of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and adjunct faculty member at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem, will explore Dr. Borowitz’s thinking and its development. 

Simon Cooper, Teaching Fellow at the London School of Jewish Studies and editorial assistant at the Journal of Jewish Studies, whose doctoral dissertation at King's College, London focuses on contemporary covenantal theology, will contrast the use of the concept of covenant by Dr. Borowitz and Dr. David Hartman. 

Rabbi Jonathan Crane, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Toronto and the Rabbinic Advisor to Reform Students on Campus for the Hillel of Greater Toronto, will discuss Dr. Borowitz among other Jewish writers on ethics. 

Dr. Borowitz will respond to each of their questions, followed by discussion with the audience.

Admission is free; Photo I.D. and reservations are required. RSVP to or 212-824-2262 by February 12.

Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates leaders to serve North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, museums, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding.