Rabbi Neil Gillman, Professor Emeritus at The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, has burnished his reputation as one of the pre-eminent contemporary Jewish theologians with the publication of his latest book, Doing Jewish Theology: God, Torah & Israel in Modern Judaism, winner of the 2009 National Jewish Book Award. Aside from his Canadian roots that are discussed as background, Professor Gillman, one of my own teachers, tells his story of how he came to explore the topics he courageously discusses. Often, he is iconoclastic; challenging some of the very way that people approach thorny issues. Thus, for example, he evades the question of whether or not the Conservative movement is halakhic by stating that he does not know what halakhic means in this context. And on the veracity of the Torah, his position is that it is myth, which makes it theologically important but historically questionable. He applauds the inclusion of the Priestly Blessings in synagogue ritual while excluding women from performing it, but argues for egalitarianism. He insists that there is a God (though entirely un-provable) but cannot accept that the actual words in the Torah are Divine. This is a book that will antagonize some and frustrate others but it demands that every reader be prepared to re-think his or her religious opinions.
Rabbi Wayne Allen
After being graduated from New York University with a B.A. in philosophy and Phi Beta Kappa, Rabbi Allen attended the Jewish Theological Seminary of America where he earned a Masters degree in Rabbinics and went on to receive rabbinic ordination. He has served as a congregational rabbi for almost 34 years, taking on postings in New York City, Los Angeles, and Toronto.