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Eisen inaugurated at JTS

The new chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America said his mission is to focus on mitzvah, mission and Muslims.

At his official inauguration Wednesday at the Conservative movement’s flagship seminary, Arnold Eisen laid out an ambitious program for the coming year that included a review of the seminary curriculum for rabbinical and cantorial students, expanded dialogue with Christians and Muslims, and a sharpening of the movement’s message, beginning with a focus on the concept of mitzvah.

Eisen, the institution’s seventh chancellor, said he wants to provide “clear formulations, well-articulated and cogently argued, of my understanding of this movement. I want to share my understanding, in all humility and with full respect for other voices in our community, that this is the way on which God and Torah want us to walk.”

He rejected talk of the Conservative movement’s supposed “malaise,” a term used by his predecessor, Rabbi Ismar Schorsch, in his final commencement address last year.

“Malaise is in the eye or head of the beholder,” Eisen said, as Schorsch, seated behind him on the dais, looked on. “It is certainly not in mine.”

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