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Both/And: 250 Years of Conservative Judaism in 80 Minutes, with Chancellor Arnold M. Eisen.In an adaptation of his semester-long class for JTS students, Chancellor Arnie Eisen teaches us how Conservative Judaism became what it is today.

Popular episodes

Introducing The Evolution of Torah: a history of rabbinic literature

Nov 27 • 13:59
Episode 1: Who Were the Rabbis?

What led to the emergence of the group of scholars and teachers we call the Rabbis? What motivated them and what did they value? The Rabbis looked to their forebear, Hillel, as an exemplar of religious leadership, and in this episode, we’ll look at three stories they told about Hillel to see what we can learn about the Rabbis’ self-conception...

Introducing What Now? A JTS Podcast

Jun 2 • 29:07
In this opening episode of JTS’s new podcast, What Now?, host Sara Beth Berman tells her story and speaks with Professor Alan Mittleman. Dr. Mittleman shares his own experiences with loss, framing tragedies as taking place in a world that is nevertheless good and that gives us reason for hope. We also learn why giving Professor Mittleman advice is never a good idea.


8: Looking to the future

Oct 26 • 12:18
Neil Gillman, professor of philosophy at JTS, made it his mission to encourage generations of JTS students, as well as countless members of the Jewish public, to develop their own theologies, rather than relying exclusively on the giants of the past such as those who have been discussed in this podcast. Chancellor Eisen lays out his own approach, grounded in the ongoing co...

7: Hearing women’s voices and moving “from path to pathlessness”

Oct 19 • 11:39
Jewish feminism has been a major influence on Conservative Judaism since the 1970s. Judith Hauptman, professor emerita at JTS, has brought her deep knowledge of rabbinic literature to developing new positions on women’s halakhic obligations. Mara Benjamin is soon to publish a book that uses her own experience of motherhood as a lens on Jewish ethics. A further example of i...

6: Finding God through the “leap of action”

Oct 12 • 11:28
Both Mordecai Kaplan, the rationalist, and Abraham Joshua Heschel, the mystic, believed that Judaism compels us to make the world a better place. Kaplan was committed to the ethical practice adopted by the Jewish People throughout our history, while Heschel’s social activism was motivated by a prophetic imperative: transforming God’s will into action. Louis Finkelstein, th...

5: American Judaism in the mid-20th Century

Oct 5 • 10:34
In identifying the aspects of Judaism that he considered compelling for modern American Jews, Mordecai Kaplan focused on the human part of Judaism: community and folkways, rather than commandments and spirituality. In contrast, JTS professor Abraham Joshua Heschel sought to reawaken American Jewry to the power of mystery and the imperative to respond to God’s presence in t...

4: A Judaism OF the people

Sep 28 • 11:12
If Judaism can change, what must remain constant? Solomon Schechter, who became the President of JTS, identified the core elements of Judaism that unite all Jews who are part of the tradition, across ideologies and across time. Mordecai Kaplan, a professor of Midrash at JTS, took these elements and interpreted them as constituting a civilization that, he proposed, could be...

3: A Judaism BY the people

Sep 21 • 11:30
Once Zacharias Frankel and other historically-minded scholars had affirmed that Judaism has always been changing, a question presented itself: How does Judaism change? Frankel and Solomon Schechter, then a lecturer at Cambridge University, both saw the authority for change as rooted in the Jewish People—but which of the people?

Further reading:
Zachariah Frankel in Mendes-Fl...

2: History and halakhah

Sep 13 • 10:59
Moses Mendelssohn had already acknowledged that Jews in the modern era can make choices about how to practice and believe in Judaism, or whether to keep it at all. A range of choices then emerged in response to this new freedom, including ultra-Orthodoxy, the neo-Orthodoxy of Samson Raphael Hirsch, Reform Judaism, and the emergence of Conservative Judaism with Zacharias Fr...

1: Encountering Enlightenment

Aug 30 • 11:17
Our story begins with the pre-history of modern Jewish philosophy and the radical writings of Benedict Spinoza, who considered the Enlightenment’s challenges to Judaism, and found Judaism wanting. We then meet Moses Mendelssohn, the first traditional Jew to engage with the Enlightenment and mount a sophisticated defense of Judaism.

Further reading:
Moses Mendelssohn, Jerusal...

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