A new book of essays from co-editors Rabbi Hayim Herring, Ph.D., and Ellie Roscher addresses investing in rabbis, trusting tradition, and embracing change.
In an age when more and more American Jews outside of Orthodoxy
feel distant from Judaism as a religion, we must ask, “How do we train our rabbis to lead us
today?” Keeping Faith in Rabbis is a book published by Avenida Books of thirty-one essays
that address that very question. The first book release launch event is December 2, 2014, at
Bet Shalom Congregation, 13613 Orchard Road, Minnetonka, Minnesota. The book is
available on Amazon.com and Avenidabooks.com.
“Courageous conversation is imperative because we need our rabbis and pastors now more
than ever,” says co-editor Ellie Roscher. “Spiritual leaders do the essential work of
translating the sacred, facilitating relationships and preserving ritual. This book, along with
Keeping the Faith in Seminary, explore the changing roles of rabbis and pastors in society and
asks how religious education needs to shift to offer form and content that pulls from
tradition while being timely.”
Hayim Herring and Ellie Roscher curate a community conversation that highlights the
voices of rabbis, academics and lay leaders that represent a diverse background of age,
gender, geography and denomination. The collective wisdom the essays create add to the
existing discussions and significant experimentation happening in Jewish religious life in
“My deep hope for Keeping Faith in Rabbis is that it will fuel continued conversations in
person and online, through workshops, presentations and inclusive tables where decisions
about rabbinical education are made,” Herring says. “For those of us who care about Jewish
communities and the potential impact that rabbis have, there is too much at stake to let the
conversations be limited and disconnected.”
Rabbi Asher Lopatin, President of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School, says, “This
is the book we’ve been waiting for… This book pulls it all together with stories, arguments,
the latest scholarship and common sense. If you are in the synagogue or rabbinic world,
you need to read this… A great visionary and reflective work that will hopefully shape our
understanding for many years to come.”
Marcella Kanfer Rolnick agrees, “Keeping Faith in Rabbis is a thought- and feeling-provoking
compendium of deeply revealing intellectual and personal sharing by a wide array of Jewish
rabbis and thinkers. There is much to be learned from reading this volume.”
We need rabbis who are trained to act strategically and secure enough in their rabbinic
selves to take the risks of wisely leading us through uncharted territory with capable
partners. In Keeping Faith in Rabbis, Herring and Roscher invite readers to join in the
conversation, in doing hard work, asking stimulating questions, talking with all stakeholders,
and moving toward creative action.
For more information go to www.ktfrabbis.avenidabooks.com
About the Editors
Hayim Herring, C.E.O. of HayimHerring.com, is an author, presenter and organizational
futurist who “prepares today’s leaders for tomorrow’s organizations.”TM Hayim and Ellie
Roscher are editors of Keeping Faith in Rabbis. Hayim is author of Tomorrow’s Synagogue
Today, Network Judaism, and about 40 scholarly and popular publications. He holds
rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary and a Doctorate in Organization
and Management from Capella University. He is a former congregational rabbi, Jewish
federation senior executive and executive director of a national foundation. He blogs
at hayimherring.com, Times of Israel and The Huffington Post about the intersection of
spirituality, community, technology and innovation. You can find him on Twitter
@hayimherring, on Facebook, or hear him trying to play trumpet when you’re in
Minneapolis (hometown) or Jerusalem, which he visits frequently.
Ellie Roscher is the editor of Keeping Faith in Rabbis, Keeping the Faith in Seminary and Keeping
the Faith in Education. She holds a Masters of Theology from Luther Seminary and teaches
religion to youth at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. Previously she taught at a
Catholic high school. Ellie loves to curate conversations and is excited to move the Keeping
Faith conversation into the realm of interfaith dialogue with this latest addition. Author of
How Coffee Saved my Life, Ellie also has a MFA in Writing from Sarah Lawrence and blogs at
KeepingFaithToday.com. Find her at ellieroscher.com and follow her @ellieroscher and on
Kassel Abelson, Sharon Anisfeld, Rachel Barenblat, Edward Bernstein, Jeffrey Brown,
Daniel Burg, Norman Cohen, Julie Danan, Morley Feinstein, Ellen Flax, Jessica Gross,
Lynne Heller, Richard Hirsh, Maury Hoberman, Robert Karasov, Richard Kelber, Harold
Kravitz, David Lerner, Ellen Lewis, Daniel Libenson, Michael Marmur, Danny Nevins,
Joseph Ozarowski, Ora Prouser, Rayzel Raphael, Debra Rappaport, Flip and Laurie Rice,
Barak Richman, Harold Schulweis, Rami Shapiro, David Teutsch, Steven Wernick
Frequently Asked Questions
For whom is this book written?
Keeping Faith in Rabbis is written for rabbis, academics and Jewish laity who are asking
questions such as, “What are the barriers inhibiting a richer, multi-vocal dialogue about the
state of rabbinical education, regardless of ideology or movement? How can rabbis embrace
the agility needed to lead in an increasingly secular and media saturated society? How can
rabbis better encourage and enhance the quality of Jewish life in America? How do we
move from conversation to experimentation so that more Jewish individuals and families
are open to the beauty of the spiritual dimensions of Jewish living?”
It is also for Christians who want to join in an interfaith dialogue. Keeping the Faith in
Seminary, a prior volume in this series, also explores questions and challenges in Protestant
theological education in light of our changing religious landscape. It may be time for Jews
and Christians to ask hard questions together and learn with each other. These two books
can be a launching pad for that powerful and productive interfaith dialogue.
Why is this book different?
This volume of essays includes rabbis in the field, lay leaders and academics to create an
unprecedented multi-vocal, inter-denominational conversation. The topic is so popular, in
fact, the conversation couldn’t be contained on the page. An online Keeping Faith in Rabbis
home exists symbiotically with the book where fruitful talking continues via blogging, social
media, video interviews and thoughtful forums and comment sections. Herring and
Roscher are also taking the conversation to the streets in live presentations around the
Why did the authors write this book?
We are living in a time of transition when Keeping Faith in Rabbis is needed. How do we train
our rabbis to lead us today? Best practices from yesterday offer little guidance for
tomorrow. What does Judaism have to say today about the creation or maintenance of
sacred boundaries in age of radical transparency via social media? Keeping Faith in Rabbis will
fuel continued conversations in person and online, through workshops, presentations and
inclusive tables where decisions about rabbinical education are made. For those of us who
care about Jewish communities and the potential impact that rabbis have, there is too much
at stake to let the conversations be limited or dwindle.
What is their goal in sharing this insight and wisdom?
Our complex times will continue to create disorder, which religious communities can help
to restructure. For that to happen, rabbis who are willing to respond with spiritual
authenticity on empirical data from reports like the Pew Study are needed. This means
rabbis thinking and working really differently than we do now. Rabbis who are trained to
act strategically and secure enough in their rabbinic selves to take the risks of wisely leading
us through uncharted territory with capable partners are needed, too.
Why does relevance matter in today’s world?
Keeping Faith in Rabbis comes at a perfect time. The soil is ripe for a fruitful conversation.
The recent Pew Study’s A Portrait of Jewish Americans confirmed an enigma about 21st
Century Jewish Americans. They are extremely proud to be Jewish, yet only about one-
quarter report that religion is very important in their lives (compared with more than half of
Americans overall). As the Pew Study also notes, while more than half of the overall
American population reports attending religious services at least once or twice a month,
only about 25% of American Jews do. How do we make sense of the reality that the people
who brought a belief system of ethical monotheism to the ancient world now perceive that
the Jewish religion lacks meaning for them in contemporary America? Keeping Faith in Rabbis
raises pivotal questions and offers exciting vision for the future of the Jewish community.