JBuzz News February 27, 2012: State of American Jewish belief symposium March 4 Hosted by the Center for Jewish Studies of the University of Chicago & Spertus Institute

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JEWISH ACADEMIC & UNIVERSITY NEWS

State of American Jewish belief

Source: JUF News, 2-27-12

The Center for Jewish Studies of the University of Chicago (in cooperation with Spertus Institute) will hold a one-day symposium on the topic “The State of American Jewish Belief Revisited: At the Edge of a Crisis or at a New Threshhold?” on Sunday, March 4 at Spertus Institute, 610 S. Michigan Ave.

Speakers will include:

Rachel Adler, Professor of Modern Jewish Thought and Judaism and Gender, Hebrew Union College-Los Angeles

Saul Berman, Professor, Yeshiva University; Founder, Edah

Arnold Eisen, Chancellor and Professor of Jewish Thought, Jewish Theological Seminary of America; Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies, Stanford University

David Ellenson, President and Grancell Professor of Jewish Religious Thought, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Arthur Green, Rector of the Rabbinical School and Irving Brudnick Professor of Philosophy and Religion, Hebrew College, Boston; Professor Emeritus, Brandeis University; and formerly Dean and President, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (1984-1993)

Riv-Ellen Prell, Professor of American Studies, University of Minnesota

Recent studies have pointed to declining synagogue membership and denominational identification as signs of a crisis in contemporary American Judaism, a situation usually interpreted as sociological in nature. This symposium will focus on the theological dimensions of the perceived crisis. Six leading thinkers from all streams of American Judaism will come together to share their unique vantage points on the question, put it somewhat provocatively:

Is American Judaism theologically bankrupt?  The symposium will address both the possible causes of this perceived crisis and constructive proposals to counter it. What possibilities exist in, and are specific to, the American Jewish experience that may enable us to re-think Jewish theology?  How can American Judaism best understand, employ, and capitalize on resources within traditional Jewish theological thought in order to address challenges specific to the American Jewish experience at this time?

This conference is the second in a series that the University of Chicago Center for Jewish Studies is holding as part of its mission to engage the Chicago community – and the wider American Jewish community – in intellectually challenging discussions addressing questions of urgent importance to American Judaism and the Jewish people. The first in the series, held in March 2011, addressed themes in the thought of Eliezer Berkovits, an Orthodox Jewish Theologian.

The program will conclude with a reception and is open to the community at no charge. To register, e-mail uofcconference@spertus.edu. or call (312) 322-1773.

Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies is a partner in serving our community, supported by the JUF/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.

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