The Conclusion of Another Hartman Summer

I can't thank my congregation enough for the blessing of sabbatical time. These past couple of years have literally been a God-send! I have spent the few weeks every year studying at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem fulfilling my two goals - studying and being in Israel.

The program itself has been amazing. We are just over 25 rabbis of all denominations who have the same goals for participating. With that in common we all also subscribe to the mission of the Hartman Institute - to promote a true sense of pluralism in the Jewish community. We all respect one another and acknowledge each other's rights as a rabbi to do the work we do. We leave stereotypes behind and instead rise to new levels of understanding and knowledge.

As the program has progressed - we are now in our third year - we have become more trusting of each other too. We feel safe enough to begin to tackle issues of denominationalism and how we can realistically work with one another. Being around the table in class in Israel is one thing - working in our communities back in North America is quite another story.

We have learned that we can count on each other for support. We have learned that there will always be people who not only have no interest in pluralism but think that pluralism is heresy. Yet we persevere in the hope that we can do our part in bettering the world and improving the Jewish community. That is what our work as rabbis is all about and we acknowledge the dictum in Pirkei Avot that there will always be work to do and we aren't free to desist from it.

Thank you Hartman friends and thank you Shaare Tefila Congregation!


  1. Great Op-ed in WJW, Jonah. Your thoughts are mine exactly. I have trouble identifying with some of the mindset of the non-pluralistic Jewish community. Even though I rarely come in contact with any of the ultra-right, I have always treated fellow Jews with respect, even though it may not be returned, as expected.


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