DAY 1398: Jewish Wisdom is Informative

April 28, 2016
By bethmordecai
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DAY 1398: Jewish Wisdom is Informative

Dear Hevreh,

If you think sometimes we struggle to get a minyan, you should come by the New Jersey Veterans Home. Every other Tuesday I go with Sherry Webber and other members of the community to the Veterans Home near Menlo Park Mall to talk and learn with Jewish residents. Usually about 4 or 5 come to the meetings and though we often find these meetings interesting and engaging, we often talk about the challenge of getting other Jewish people in the Home to join us for our sessions (sound familiar?).

Yet there we were, only two days ago, in a room full of thirty¬†residents and staffers exploring the wonders of the Passover Seder. By Veterans Home Chaplain Jan Koczera’s count, there were 9 Jewish people amidst the 30 present, meaning that while we more than doubled Jewish attendance for this sacred event, it was the participation of non-Jewish residents that truly made it a “full” Seder table.

Perhaps we had so many participants because we billed the event as an interfaith seder and indeed we used the opportunity to talk about the connections and differences among Judaism, Christianity, and idol worship. I think though that there was more to it than just the interfaith angle of the Seder. It’s that embedded in our traditions are informative lessons that transcend the rituals of a particular faith tradition. As one of the non-Jewish participants mentioned numerous times at the end of the seder, “it was very informative.” I have to believe that part of that “informative” experience was that he learned something that was relevant to his own life, not just what’s relevant to Jews and Judaism. And what’s promising is that he and some others are thinking about joining our sessions on Tuesdays which will help us grow our “minyan.”

So as we engage in deeper conversations about being Jewish and doing things that we understand to be “Jewish,” let us remember that the wisdom of Judaism is not just meant for us; it is meant to be shared by all.

Hag Sameah,

Rabbi Ari Saks

Category : Passover Rabbi Rabbi's Journal
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