Arnold M. Eisen, Ph.D. (born 1951) is Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary. Prior to this appointment, he served as the Koshland Professor of Jewish Culture and Religion and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Stanford University. Prior to joining the Stanford faculty in 1986, he taught at Tel Aviv University and Columbia University.[1]

Jewish Theological Seminary

In 2006, Eisen was appointed as the seventh Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary, replacing Rabbi Dr. Ismar Schorsch. Eisen is the second non-rabbi, after Cyrus Adler, to hold this post. He is also the first person with a social science background to serve as Chancellor; previous chancellors had backgrounds in Jewish history or Talmud. He took office as Chancellor-elect on July 1, 2007, the day after Schorsch stepped down, and assumed the position full time on July 1, 2008.

Scholarship and training

Eisen is a Jewish Studies scholar in the sociology of religion and Modern Jewish Thought. He received his doctorate in the History of Jewish Thought from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and has also earned a B.A. in Religious Thought from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.Phil. in the Sociology of Religion at Oxford University. He was a student of Professor Samuel Tobias Lachs.[2] He previously served as Senior Lecturer at the Tel Aviv University and Assistant Professor at Columbia University.

Religious change

He believes that American Jews feel connected to Jewish ritual but maintain autonomy to decide what to practice and thus many do not attend synagogue on a regular basis.

Eisen is a recognized expert in religious change and the modern transformation of Jewish religious belief and practice. He is also one of the world's foremost experts in the sociology of American Judaism. For the past twenty years, he has worked closely with synagogue and federation leadership around the country to analyze and address the issues of Jewish identity, the revitalization of Jewish tradition, and the redefinition of the American Jewish community.


Eisen is married to Dr. Adriane Leveen, a professor of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) at the Reform Judaism movement's Hebrew Union College, and has two children, Shulie, a recent graduate of Brandeis University, and Nathaniel, a student at Stanford.


His recent publications include a personal essay, Taking Hold of Torah: Jewish Commitment and Community in America (1997), which addresses the renewal of Jewish community and commitment in America through a series of five essays built around the Five Books of Moses; a historical work about the origins of contemporary dilemmas concerning these issues, entitled Rethinking Modern Judaism: Ritual, Commandment, Community (1998); and The Jew Within: Self, Family and Community in America (2000), co-authored with sociologist Steven M. Cohen (2000), which examines the meanings of Judaism and Jewish belonging to contemporary American Jews.

  • Galut: Modern Jewish Reflection on Homelessness and Homecoming, Indiana University Press (Bloomington), 1986
  • Rethinking Modern Judaism: Ritual, Commandment, Community, University of Chicago Press (Chicago), 1998. (Koret Jewish Book Award, 1999)
  • The Jew Within: Self, Family, and Community in America[1]
  • The Chosen People in America: A Study in Jewish Religious Ideology, Indiana University Press (Bloomington), 1983.
  • (Author of commentary) Michael Strassfield, The Jewish Holidays: A Guide and Commentary, Harper & Row (New York City), 1985.
  • Taking Hold of Torah: Jewish Commitment and Community in America, Indiana University Press (Bloomington), 1997.
  • (With Steven M. Cohen) The Jew Within: Self, Family, and Community in America, Indiana University Press, 2000[3]




  1. 1.0 1.1 "Arnold M. Eisen." Marquis Who's Who TM. Marquis Who's Who, 2008. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2008. Fee. Retrieved 7 December 2008. Document Number: K2020026923
  2. Tigay, Jeffrey H.. "Samuel Tobias Lachs". University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved 2008-12-07.  Obituary.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2008. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2008. Fee. Retrieved 2008-12-07. Entry updated: 12/12/2006. Document Number: H1000135943

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