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?