“You can define the rules [of your Jewish community] and then build fences….or you can build a fire and see who comes.”
Sound like a quote from someone famous? More on that later, but first, regarding the fire: it will burn on the strength of Jewish meditation, family and musical services, interfaith forums, and an invested group of people at Beth El, a Reconstructionist congregation in Bennington, Vermont. The person fanning the flames is their new leader, Rabbi Joshua Boettiger, as reported in the Bennington Banner.
Rabbi Boettiger is rabbi with unique heritage for a number of reasons (you can read about him in a previous JOI blog based on an article in the New York Times). For one, he grew up in an interfaith home. His parents decided to give him a taste of both Judaism and Christianity and let him decide which path, if either, spoke to him. While a rabbi who grew up in an interfaith household is fascinating enough, he is also the great-grandson of FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt!
Interestingly, Boettiger points not to his great-grandfather’s official position of leadership but to his great-grandmother’s commitment to social justice as something that inspires him in his work as a rabbi. And I’m sure his own experience growing up in an interfaith home will inform his work in continuing to build a warm, welcoming community.
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