Page 148 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 40

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
Council of America in 1948 -1949 . He was founder and chairman
of the Board of Editors of
Judaism
from 1950 -1959 , and has been
serving as editor since 1969. He is currently president of the J WB
Jewish Book Council; fellow of the American Academy of Jewish
Research; honorary commissioner for life of the National Hillel
Commission of B ’nai B ’rith; member of the National Council of
the Boy Scouts of America; member of the Board of John
LaFarga Institute on Interracial Justice; honorary trustee of the
Council for Religion and International Affairs; member of the
Board of the Institute of Church and State of Villanova Univer­
sity; and member of various organizations and societies in the
fields of scholarship, religion and public affairs.
Last but not least, Dr. and Mrs. Gordis are known as enthusias­
tic devotees of the arts, especially the Jewish arts. They regularly
attend concerts, opera and theater.
Over the years Gordis has earned an enviable reputation as a
nationally known lecturer. He is a leading spokesman of Conser­
vative Judaism, whose lectures have been presented from count­
less platforms throughout the land — synagogues, public forums
sponsored by community cen te rs , university campuses ,
Chautauqua Institutes and many others. Thousands of listeners
came to learn what one of the oldest religions on the face of the
earth — Judaism — had to say to them personally about God, the
existence of evil, the meaning of their lives, the disarray in con­
temporary society, etc. Gordis has a policy to invite questions
from the floor, following a lecture. This often calls forth serious
discussions. A summary of insights from such discussions is of­
fered in the next section dealing with Gordis’ thought. Com­
prehensive expositions on the same themes are available in many
of the philosophic works listed in the concluding section.
CONTRIBUTIONS TO THOUGHT
Gordis’ philosophy of life and ethics, and his views concerning
the nature of Judaism — especially the unique role of Conserva­
tive Judaism — are shaped by biblical and rabbinic traditions. To
begin with, he posits that all phenomena of existence are frag­
mentary components of the one universe created by God. All
legitimate ends in the sphere of human life are compatible with
one another. In the drama of history, man, the only creature
endowed with self-awareness and the capacity to reflect upon the