11 October 2017

Rabbi David Ellenson on the Changing Dynamics of American Jewish Life: An Invitation for Discussion Week 2

Written by Rabbi Brian Stoller

EllensonDiscussion

As a way to start the conversation in advance of my official Installation and Rabbi David Ellenson's visit, the eTidings will feature some of Rabbi Ellenson’s insights and commentaries about the changing dynamics of American Jewish life, and provide a forum for discussion.  I invite you to take a few minutes to read Rabbi Ellenson’s teachings and participate in the conversation by sharing your thoughts. 

-Rabbi Stoller

Week 2

Rabbi David Ellenson, “Interreligious Learning and the Formation of Jewish Religious Identity”

When persons will not speak with the other, a dehumanization of the other easily arises and a demonization results.  As a committed Jew, not only the past history of Jewish-Christian relations but recent events like the slaughter of Muslims engaged in prayer in Hebron in 1994 and the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 all too painfully remind me of the tragedy that can ensue when the path of dialogue is not taken. …

The enterprise of interreligious learning…contributes to the creation of an atmosphere of mutual respect between former rivals who were all too often actual foes.  Interreligious learning...permits its participants to forge a new sense of religious identity.  It allows the Jew to assert, as Eugene Borowitz did in Contemporary Christologies over a decade ago, “To be sure, I see a substantial difference between my faith and that of the [Christian] theologians I have studied here, but I cannot say that their wisdom is only ‘human wisdom.’  They know a great deal about the God of my people and their knowledge has consequences for their lives [as well as my own] in ways…which are recognizably directed to God’s service.”

Discussion Question:

In what ways have your experiences with interreligious learning and dialogue enhanced your Jewish life?

 

 

About the Author

Rabbi Brian Stoller

Rabbi Brian Stoller

Rabbi Stoller - Senior Rabbi
bstoller@templeisraelomaha.com

Rabbi Stoller grew up in Houston, TX, and attended The University of Texas where he received a Bachelor of Business Administration in Honors Business Program & Finance in 1996. After graduation, he first worked as a Political Consultant and Hill Consultants in Houston and then serviced as Press Secretary for U.S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald (IL), Washington, DC. Rabbi Stoller has stated, “Seven years in politics is enough to drive you to God. That is my short explanation for why I left my career as a U.S. Senate press secretary to become a rabbi – although, in truth, there is a lot more to the story. While politics can certainly be disillusioning, I see my journey from the Capitol to the rabbinate as a personal spiritual evolution toward a fuller, more authentic version of myself, a deeper engagement with things that really matter, and the realization of my destiny to be a teacher and spiritual guide to others.”

Rabbi Stoller was previously the associate rabbi at Congregation B’nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim (BJBE), Deerfield, IL. He served at BJBE since 2008 when he was ordained as a rabbi from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Cincinnati, OH, where he is currently also a Ph.D. Candidate in Rabbinics.

Rabbi Stoller is married to Karen Flayhart and they have two children, Lindsay (7) and Zachary (3). For enjoyment, Rabbi Stoller likes cycling and is learning to play ukulele with his daughter along with learning to read German.

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