Rabbis Without Borders

Imagine a conference room filled with twenty-three adult students learning together.

Imagine those students listening carefully, asking thoughtful questions, and thanking others for inspiring them.

Imagine them thinking deeply, as the younger students ask, “How does what you are saying square with these other ideas?” Imagine them nodding in recognition as the older students say, “Here is how your ideas are expressed in my life experience.”

Imagine the chairs tightly packed around the table, as articulate learned teachers join the group. The teachers speak passionately, recognize every hand raised, and respond with graceful intelligence.

Imagine that all students and teachers are ordained rabbis, representing every major Jewish movement on the continent.

Imagine learning at Rabbis Without Borders.

In this safe setting, our teachers toss out deep essential questions, and our heads spin with a fragmented kaleidoscope of answers.

Rabbi Brad Hirschfield asks: How can you make people fall in love with Jewish wisdom as you fell in love — even if what they need to fall in love with is different?

Rabbi Irwin Kula asks: What is the job that needs to be done in this contemporary North American social context?

Rabbi Rebecca Sirbu asks: How do you perceive your rabbinate?

Our teachers give us raw materials for the spinning kaleidoscope of answers. They show us chambers, shapes, and mirrors.

The program goal is a chamber in which all the shifting takes place: to recognize “rabbi” means “wisdom teacher.”

The facts we study are shapes that shift and fall about the chamber: political issues in religion, statistics about religious attitudes, existential questions that drive theological positions.

The mirrors are our own commitments, attitudes, experience, rabbinic training.

Imagine twenty-three minds, creating a kaleidoscope together, and taking turns looking through it.

I can’t even imagine yet what we will see.

Image: arborsci.com

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