Ismar Schorsch, chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary, to deliver Bennett lecture at Fairfield University
Ismar Schorsch, a noted Jewish scholar and chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary, will deliver the Carl and Dorothy Bennett Lecture in Judaic Studies on Tuesday, Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m., at Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts.
Dr. Schorsch's talk, entitled "The Future of American Judaism," will explore whether an open society is good for traditional religion.
"At the beginning of the 20th century, the pundits certainly thought not and predicted its imminent demise," he said. "Yet its resurgence in the final quarter of the century has confounded their judgment. In a society with few boundaries, traditional religion may be the most attractive alternative."
Dr. Schorsch is the sixth chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) and its Rabbi Herman Abramovitz Professor of Jewish History. Founded in 1886, JTS is a Jewish university that serves as the spiritual and academic center of Conservative Judaism in the United States. The seminary includes undergraduate, graduate and professional programs, rabbinical training, five research institutes and several other facilities.
As the leader of JTS for the past 14 years, Dr. Schorsch has worked to convey his vision of Conservative Judaism as the most authentic contemporary expression of rabbinic Judaism. Under his leadership, the seminary has reached beyond its Manhattan campus, introducing religious alternatives and new leadership in Israel through its Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. The seminary also trains students at its Project Judaica in Moscow and hosts Schechter schools and Ramah camps across North America in an effort to raise a generation of literate and observant young Jews.
Dr. Schorsch, author of the highly-acclaimed 1995 monograph, "Sacred Cluster: The Core Values of Conservative Judaism," believes the survival of the Jewish people depends on education. To that end, the seminary created the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education in 1996. In addition, Dr. Schorsch was a guiding force behind the Solomon Schechter High School of New York, sparking national interest in Conservative day high schools.
Dr. Schorsch's interest in Israel is evident in his many public statements and writings supporting expanded rights and a strengthened religious identity for Conservative Jews in Israel. His longtime support of the peace process led President Clinton to invite him to join the official presidential delegation witnessing the peace treaty signing between Jordan and Israel in October 1994.
In 2000, Tufts University awarded Dr. Schorsch an honorary degree. The Russian State University in 1998 awarded him an honorary degree in recognition of the extraordinary success of Project Judaica, the first time in that country's history that such an honor was given to a Jewish scholar.
During his tenure as chancellor, Dr. Schorsch has become a recognized spokesman on a range of critical issues, from the environment to separation of church and state to welfare reform. Working closely with former Vice President Al Gore, he helped create the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, a coalition of religious and scientific leaders that strives to use moral influence to effect change.
Dr. Schorsch was ordained by JTS in 1962 and holds master's degrees from JTS and Columbia University. He holds a Ph.D. in Jewish history from Columbia.
The Bennett lecture series was created through a grant from the Carl and Dorothy Bennett Foundation and aims to improve relations between Catholics and Jews and improve understanding of a common heritage. In 1993, the Greenwich, Conn. couple and their children created the Carl and Dorothy Bennett Chair in Judaic Studies, held by Dr. Ellen M. Umansky, which is the cornerstone of the Carl and Dorothy Bennett Center for Judaic Studies at Fairfield University.
Dr. Schorsch's lecture is free and open to the public, but tickets are required. For tickets, call the Quick Center box office at (203) 254-4010 or toll free at 1-877-ARTS-396. Media inquiries should be made to Dana Ambrosini, Fairfield University's assistant director of media relations, at (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726.
Posted on September 15, 2002
Vol. 35, No. 57