Arnold M. Eisen, Ph.D., Receives Honorary Doctorate from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Pictured, left to right: Rabbi Michael Marmur, Ph.D., Vice President for Academic Affairs, HUC-JIR; Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D., President, HUC-JIR; Arnold M. Eisen, Ph.D., Chancellor, The Jewish Theological Seminary; Irwin Engelman, Chairman, Board of Governors, HUC-JIR; Rabbi Shirley Idelson, Dean, HUC-JIR/New York

Rabbi David Ellenson, President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), awarded Arnold M. Eisen, Ph.D., Chancellor, The Jewish Theological Seminary, with the Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, on Thursday, May 2, 2013 at HUC-JIR’s Graduation Ceremonies at Congregation Emanu-El in the City of New York. Chancellor Eisen also served as the Graduation Speaker. Read Chancellor Eisen's address.

Rabbi Ellenson stated, “Arnold Eisen holds a unique place among scholars for his scholarship and expertise in the history of Jewish thought.  His vision and administrative gifts have shaped a new paradigm for JTS's impact on the Conservative Movement through the development of innovative programs in synagogue arts and practices, adult education, Jewish thought, and inter-religious dialogue."

Arnold M. Eisen, one of the world's foremost experts on American Judaism, is the seventh chancellor of The Jewish Theological Seminary. Since his appointment in 2007, he has increased JTS's impact on the communities it serves by transforming the education of religious leadership for Conservative Judaism; articulating a new vision for JTS; guiding the formulation of a strategic plan to implement that vision; and developing innovative programs in synagogue arts and practices, adult education, pastoral care, Jewish thought, interreligious dialogue, and the arts. Chancellor Eisen has become a leading voice for Judaism and the "vital religious center" of North America.

By 2011, the chancellor's Mitzvah Initiative, which has already resulted in an enhanced commitment to individual and collective observance and a new appreciation for Conservative Judaism, will involve some 75 congregations in a process of reflection upon "commandment, commandedness, and the Commander." Additional initiatives spearheaded by Chancellor Eisen to meet the evolving needs of North American Jewry include new curricula for, and synergy among, all of JTS's five schools; the Institute for Jewish Learning at JTS and its flagship program Context—developed to strengthen Jewish lives and communities via the integration of rigorous academic scholarship and teaching with outreach initiatives; the Center for Pastoral Education at JTS—established to teach students, rabbis, and ordained clergy of all faiths the art of pastoral care; and the Tikvah Institute for Jewish Thought—a forum created to explore Jewish philosophy as it relates to some of the deepest concerns of human experience.

Before coming to JTS, Chancellor Eisen served in the Department of Religious Studies at Stanford University, the Department of Jewish Philosophy at Tel Aviv University, and the Department of Religion at Columbia University. The chancellor earned a PhD in the History of Jewish Thought from Hebrew University, a BPhil in the Sociology of Religion at Oxford University, and a BA in Religious Thought from the University of Pennsylvania. An award-winning writer and advocate for the Jewish community, the chancellor's publications include (from the University of Chicago Press) Rethinking Modern Judaism: Ritual, Commandment, Community and (from Indiana University Press) Galut: Modern Jewish Reflection on Homelessness and Homecoming; The Jew Within: Self, Family and Community in America (with Steven M. Cohen); The Chosen People in America: A Study in Jewish Religious Ideology; andTaking Hold of Torah: Jewish Commitment and Community in America, a personal essay.

Chancellor Eisen sits on the board of directors of the Tanenbaum Center, the Covenant Foundation, and the Taube Foundation, and chairs the steering committee of the Academic Consortium. He is a lifelong member of the Conservative Movement, and married to Dr. Adriane Leveen, a scholar of Hebrew Bible. The couple has two children, Shulie and Nathaniel.

Click here to view the National Graduation and Ordination press release.


Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is the nation's first institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to 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 American Jewish Archives, 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. www.huc.edu