Professor Ismar Schorsch (Current President since 2008)
Professor Ismar Schorsch is the former chancellor of The Jewish Theological Seminary, the Rabbi Herman Abramovitz Professor of Jewish History, and leader of the Conservative movement.
At the meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Memorial Foundation in Jerusalem on July 1, 2008, Professor Ismar Schorsch, former chancellor of The Jewish Theological Seminary, the Rabbi Herman Abramovitz Professor of Jewish History, and leader of the Conservative movement, was elected president of the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture. Since retiring as chancellor in 2006, Professor Schorsch has returned to his first love: the life of the mind and serious scholarship. Professor Schorsch has been involved as a reader, member of the Foundation's Board of Trustees and officer for more than three decades.
Throughout his twenty years as chancellor, Professor Schorsch worked to inform and elevate the religious lives of Jews far beyond the Manhattan campus of JTS. He pioneered in the training of a new Jewish intelligentsia for Russian Jewry through Project Judaica, a Jewish studies program in Moscow sponsored by JTS; providing Jewish knowledge and experience to adults through a panoply of innovative programs; and creating a responsible Jewish voice on public issues, from religious pluralism in Israel to bioethics.
Professor Schorsch, a top scholar in the field of modern Jewish history, has addressed the important issue of modern Jewish scholarship as a central factor in the reconstruction of Jewish identity and self-presentation. In the spring of 2000, Professor Schorsch received an honorary degree from Tufts University. In 1998, the Russian State University awarded him an honorary degree in recognition of the extraordinary success of Project Judaica the first time in that country's history that such an honor was given to a Jewish scholar. Professor Schorsch's book, From Text to Context: The Turn to History in Modern Judaism, published by University Press of New England, was translated into Hebrew and published in Israel in 1999. Four years later, the National Foundation for Jewish Culture honored him with a Jewish Cultural Achievement Award in Historical Studies.
His most recent book is Canon Without Closure (March 2007, Aviv Press), a wide-ranging collection of Torah commentaries written during his tenure as chancellor. In 2004, he published a two-volume collection of the articles and essays he wrote while chancellor titled Polarities in Balance, and in 1995, The Sacred Cluster: The Core Values of Conservative Judaism.
Professor Schorsch is recognized as one of the foremost spokesmen on a wide range of critical issues. He brought a unique Jewish dimension to such national issues as the environment, separation of church and state, health care and welfare reform.
Professor Schorsch was ordained by JTS in 1962, holds a master's degrees from JTS and Columbia University, and was awarded a Ph.D. in Jewish History from Columbia in 1969. He and his wife Sally have three children and eleven grandchildren.