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Eugene Borowitz

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Name  Eugene Borowitz

Role  Author
Eugene Borowitz huceduimagespressroomborrowitz2gif

Education  Columbia University, Ohio State University
Awards  National Jewish Book Award for Modern Jewish Thought & Experience
Books  Renewing the Covenant, The Jewish moral virtues, Choices in modern Jewish th, Explaining Reform Judaism, Liberal Judaism

The Tonight Show ft. EUGENE BOROWITZ by Mike NOUR

Eugene B. Borowitz (February 20, 1924 – January 22, 2016) was an American leader and philosopher in Reform Judaism, known largely for his work on Jewish theology and Jewish ethics. He also edited a Jewish journal, Sh'ma, and taught at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.


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He was awarded the Maurice N. Eisendrath Bearer of Light Award by the Union for Reform Judaism (2005), selected as a Scholar of Distinction for a retrospective on his work by the Jewish Publication Society (2002) and given the Jewish Cultural Achievement medal for scholarship by the National Foundation for Jewish Culture. He received the National Jewish Book Award (1974) for The Mask Jews Wear. Jewish Spiritual Journeys: Essays in Honor of Eugene B. Borowitz on his 70th Birthday was published in his honor in 1997.

As is apparent from a bibliography of his works, Borowitz was a prolific author.

During the Korean War, he served as a chaplain for the U.S. Navy. Borowitz held degrees from Ohio State University, Columbia University and HUC-JIR.

Early life

Borowitz grew up in Columbus, Ohio, and attended Ohio State University. After graduation, he went to Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, where he was ordained as a Rabbi in 1948 and received his D.H.L. in 1950.


Borowitz became the founding rabbi of the Community Synagogue in Port Washington, New York, while at the same time pursuing a PhD. in religion from the joint program sponsored by Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary. In 1957, he was appointed as director of the Religious Education Department of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. Because of this, he switched to Columbia's doctoral program in education and received the Ed.D. in 1958. From 1962 until his death, he was a faculty member at the New York campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, where he became the Sigmund L. Falk Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Education and Jewish Religious Thought. He was elected as the first Jewish president of the American Theological Society in 1981 and served until 1982 He celebrated his hundredth semester with the college in 2012.

Borowitz is best known for his development of "covenant theology," a term he first introduced in a 1961 article in Commentary. His work concerned itself with the dilemma of the postmodern Jew: committed to individual autonomy, but nevertheless involved with God, Torah and Israel. His interest in redefining covenant led him to significant work in normative ethics, some of which was collected in his book Exploring Jewish Ethics (264), and his teaching on the subject led to the volume, Reform Jewish Ethics and the Halakhah (298). Borowitz's work in covenant theology found its mature expression in his 1991 book, Renewing the Covenant (273).

One of Borowitz's most significant accomplishments was his founding of Sh'ma, a Journal of Jewish Responsibility in 1970. He was its publisher and editor for twenty-three years, and he served as Senior Editor from 1993 to 1997. Sh'ma provided a forum where voices from all segments of the Jewish community could be heard on a wide range of controversial topics. Borowitz wrote numerous short book reviews for Sh'ma.

Personal life

Borowitz died January 22, 2016 at the age of 91 at his home in Stamford, Connecticut.

Selected publications and edited works

  • Eugene B. Borowitz: Rethinking God and Ethics, Eds. Hava Tirosh-Samuelson and Aaron w. Hughes, Boston, MA: BRILL, 2014.
  • Renewing the Covenant, translation by Menashe Arbel and Ilon Shamir, Eds. Ilon Shamir and Yehoyadah Amir, Tel Aviv: HaKibbutz HaMeuchad, 2014.
  • A Touch of the Sacred: A Theologian's Informal Guide to Jewish Belief (with Frances W. Schwartz), Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2007.
  • A Life in Covenant: the Complete Works of Eugene B. Borowitz, 1944-2007, by Amy W. Helfman, updated by Sarah Wolf, 2007.
  • The Talmud's Theological Language-Game, a Philosophical Discourse Analysis. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2006.
  • Studies in the Meaning of Judaism. Philadelphia: the Jewish Publication Society. 2002.
  • Reviewing the Covenant: Eugene B. Borowitz and the Postmodern Renewal of Jewish Theology, Peter Ochs with Eugene B. Borowitz. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2000.
  • Judaism After Modernity, Papers from a Decade of Fruition. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1999.
  • The Jewish Moral Virtues (with Frances W. Schwartz). Philadelphia: the Jewish Publication Society, 1999.
  • Choices in Modern Jewish Thought (2nd ed.). W. Orange, NJ: Behrman House, 1995.
  • Renewing the Covenant. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1991.
  • Exploring Jewish Ethics Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1990.
  • Explaining Reform Judaism (With Naomi Patz) New York: Behrman House, 1985. Liberal Judaism New York: Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1984.
  • Selected works

    Bibliography, 1944-1999, additional works.

  • Contemporary Christologies: A Jewish Response. US: Paulist Press International, 1980.
  • Exploring Jewish Ethics: Papers on Covenant Responsibility. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1990.
  • Liberal Judaism. New York: Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1984.
  • Reform Jewish Ethics and the Halakhah: An Experiment in Decision Making (Editor). Behrman House Publishing, 1995.
  • Renewing the Covenant: A Theology for the Postmodern Jew. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1991.
  • The Talmud's Theological Language-Game, a Philosophical Discourse Analysis. Albany: State University of New York, 2006.
  • Religion Lectures Given at the Chautauqua Institution

  • The Jewish Moral Virtues Today: Daily lectures given at the Chautauqua Institution by Rabbi Eugene B Borowitz in the summer of 2000. Topics Include:
  • Wisdom
  • Trustworthiness
  • Wealth
  • Repentance
  • Loving God
  • National Affairs: Ethics and Public Life: Daily lectures given at the Chautauqua Institution by Rabbi Eugene B Borowitz and Fr. Stanley Harakas in the summer of 1993.
  • The Moods of the Psalms: Daily lectures given at the Chautauqua Institution by Rabbi Eugene B Borowitz in the summer of 1990. Topics Include:
  • Awe
  • Understanding
  • Ambivalence
  • Anguish
  • Confidence
  • The Temple Sinai Ark Tapestry: A Masterwork of American Jewish Folk Art

    A book describing the creation of the The Temple Sinai Ark Tapestry can be read here


    Eugene Borowitz Wikipedia