Monday, May 28, 2007

Danny Nevins, Heksher Tzedek & Indiana Jew

There's a nice article in the Detroit News about my rabbi, Danny Nevins. He will become the next dean of the Rabbinical School at the Jewish Theological Seminary this summer.

The sidebar of the article links to his personal website, the teshuvah (responsum) he co-authored on Homosexuality in Judaism, and even a Detroit News audio file of him being interviewed by the Detroit News reporter.

Of course, the author had to provide the requisite pessimism about Conservative Judaism: "Nevins comes to the position at a time when the population of Jews is declining in Metro Detroit and across the country. It also is a time when Conservative Judaism has lost some of its appeal as a logical alternative to the more liberal Reform Judaism and the strict interpretations of Orthodox Judaism."

Rabbi Nevins countered this sentiment with an optimistic view of the Seminary's objectives for the future. He said, "Every challenge is an opportunity, [and] I think at the Jewish Theological Seminary we are viewing this as an opportunity to re-examine our message, our structure and also the quality of what we are producing." This positive outlook is exactly what the new chancellor, Arnie Eisen, has been preaching since accepting the chancellorship.

Perhaps the recent New York Times article about the Conservative Movement's new Heksher Tzedek was the best news coverage Conservative Judaism has received in years. Kudos to Rabbi Morris Allen for working on making this new
certification for food produced in a socially just way a reality.

I wouldn't call it negative publicity, but I did find it funny that the History Channel's Josh Bernstein ("Indiana Jew") explained that he didn't go to JTS for rabbinical school because he was turned off by the fluorescent lights. In an article by Suzanne Kurtz on the Hillel website, the star of the hit show "Digging for the Truth" and the author of a book by the same name, describes studying Jewish texts at Pardes in Jerusalem for twelve hours a day.

"So satisfying was the [Pardes] experience, when his year of study was up, Bernstein paid a visit to the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York to see if rabbinical school might be his next move.

'But the fluorescent lights ruined it for me,' he explains. 'I told the rabbis at Pardes I'm going to get my wisdom in the desert.' Their reply: 'It was good enough for the Patriarchs.' "

1 comment:

Piotr Picz said...

my first thought is whether this new hekscher will actually be counterproductive to jews observing kashrut. yes i agree it is important if not essential to ensure social justice but currently less and less jews are keeping kosher as demanded by traditional halacha. is this a new way out from something that is already not being kept by the majority?