Hebrew College Rector Rabbi Art Green, founder of the Rabbinical School at Hebrew College, has been awarded his first National Jewish Book Award for “Judaism for the World: Reflections on God, Life, and Love” (Yale University Press) in the category of “Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice in Memory of Myra H. Kraft.”
“For close to 60 years, Art has been writing to the Jewish community covering everything from scholarship that transformed a field of knowledge to theology that transformed lives and to gateway books that allow every seeker in,” said Rabbi Ebn Leader, a Hebrew College faculty member and student of Rabbi Green. “It is wonderful that his most recent book, in which he shares the personal fruits of a lifetime of seeking and study, is receiving the public recognition that will allow his voice to reach even more people. As the prize recognizes, these essays are indeed the work of a master of contemporary Jewish life and practice, from whom we can all learn and with whom we can all grow.”
Rabbi Green is an expert on Hasidism, the 18th-century spiritual revival movement of Jews in Eastern Europe, and a leading figure within neo-Hasidism, the attempt to apply Hasidic teachings to life in the contemporary world. Several decades ago, Rabbi Green says, he shifted from writing solely academic books on the history of Jewish thought to writing more personal theological books of his own spiritual journey. “Radical Judaism,” published by Yale in 2010, was the first major work. Green said this book is an update to “Radical Judaism.”
Rather than a revised edition, however, this book is a series of essays that shares his ongoing thinking about what it means to be a spiritual seeker—one that he hopes will be helpful to other seekers. In this work, Green offers essays grouped together around particular themes—prayer, the Jewish calendar and reflections on contemporary Judaism and his own life.
“I’ve been writing a series of books that lay out my own theology, very personal books that lay out my own spiritual life,” he said. “But my thinking keeps changing. This is an explanation of who I am religiously. It’s a next step in my ongoing thinking.”
Dr. Stu Halpern, senior advisor to the provost of Yeshiva University writes on the Jewish Book Council website that Green’s book is “the testament of a unique, and uniquely impactful, educator.”
As leader of the Havurat Shalom movement of the late ’60s into the ’70s, an editor of a new two-volume history of Hasidism, “A New Hasidism: Roots” and “A New Hasidism: Branches,” and the author of a new translation of the Hasidic classic “The Light of the Eyes,” as well as many other popular and academic works, Rabbi Green is offering a Hebrew College Me’ah Select community education online course this semester to help seekers around the world connect with the deep spiritual wisdom of Hasidism.
Green, who is now working on a commentary on the prayer book, says he sees this National Jewish Book Award as a reference to his five-decade career of spiritual and theological writing.
“As one long trained to believe that we ‘serve not in order to receive a prize,’ I am quite dumbfounded on actually receiving one,” Rabbi Green said. “But if it will encourage people to read, I’m quite happy.”
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