Green, Arthur

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GREEN, ARTHUR (1941– ), U.S. scholar, theologian, and rabbi. Born in Paterson, n.j., Green grew up in Newark. Raised in a non-observant Jewish home, he was educated as a child in public schools, a Conservative Hebrew school, and Camp Ramah.

After completing a B.A. at Brandeis University in 1961, Green trained for the rabbinate at the Jewish Theological Seminary (jts) in New York. There, he was a close student of Abraham Joshua Heschel. Upon ordination from jts in 1967 Green began doctoral studies at Brandeis under the direction of Alexander Altmann. The following year he co-founded Havurat Shalom in Somerville, Mass., a new informal religious community that wove together the insights of Jewish mysticism, Neo-Ḥasidism, and American counterculture. Havurat Shalom helped birth the national Ḥavurah and Jewish Renewal movements.

Green established himself as an academic with the publication of Tormented Master: A Life of Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav (1979). Widely read by scholars and general readers in the United States and Israel, it appeared in Hebrew translation in 1980. Green's other academic contributions include several essays and monographs on ḥasidic leadership and the history of kabbalistic symbolism, including Keter: The Crown of God in Early Jewish Mysticism (1997). Green has also translated several classical ḥasidic texts, including The Language of Truth: The Torah Commentary of the Sefat Emet (1998).

Green left Havurat Shalom in 1973 to join the department of religion at the University of Pennsylvania, where he remained for a decade. In 1984 he became dean and then president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (rrc) in Philadelphia. Green's move to the rrc is indicative of his dual interests in academic and rabbinic education and his desire to serve as both a scholar and a religious leader. It was while at the rrc that Green wrote his major theological work, Seek My Face, Speak My Name: A Contemporary Jewish Theology (1992), a text that draws on an array of Jewish mystical sources in the construction of a modern Jewish spiritual vision. Green helped introduce a new appreciation for Jewish spirituality at the rrc, an institution founded upon Mordecai Kaplan's rationalistic program.

In 1990 Green left the rrc because of ongoing tensions with older Kaplan loyalists who were uncomfortable with his religious views, and because of his dissatisfaction with fundraising and administrative responsibilities. The following year Green returned to his alma mater, Brandeis University, assuming the Philip W. Lown Chair in Jewish thought, a position once held by his doctoral advisor, Alexander Altmann. In 2004 Green published Eheyeh: A Kabbalah for Tomorrow, an introduction to and contemporary interpretation of Kabbalah.

In 2004 Green was named founding dean of the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College in Newton, Mass. The Hebrew College Rabbinical School is a pluralistic Jewish seminary without any denominational affiliation. Green's turn to transdenominational rabbinic education represented the fulfillment of a dream from his time in Havurat Shalom, which he originally envisioned as a seminary/community. In 2005, Green retired from Brandeis to devote himself to the development of the Rabbinical School.

[Or N. Rose (2nd ed.)]