Today is December 15, 2019 -
I have written a fair amount over the past few years about our interfaith work in our local community. Last night we joined the Capital Area Council of Churches in honoring our own Rabbi Shpeen, who was awarded the Rev. Carlyle Adams Ecumenical and Interfaith Award. This morning Federation hosted a breakfast for the Council and last night’s keynote speaker Judith Banki, a pioneer in the area of Jewish-Christian relations. We are so fortunate to live in a community that values these relations.
Growing up in the Capital District, I never realized that our Jewish community also enjoys rather unique intra-faith relations. Apparently, in other communities, members of the different denominational streams do not get along nearly as well as ours do. Sure, we have theological differences and our synagogues have a fair amount of friendly competition for membership, but the way we get along is really quite special. And the tone for these relations has been set by our rabbis.
This week I stopped in on a meeting of our Capital District Board of Rabbis. The group meets in the Federation office, and they invited me to talk about our February trips to Israel. When I arrived, pulpit and retired rabbis from all denominations were collegially discussing the logistics of the joint “Intro to Judaism” class. In a few weeks, on Rosh Hashanah, the group will also be conducting a joint Tashlich service at Buckingham Pond, and last night Rabbi Shpeen’s conservative and orthodox colleagues were at the program to support him.
This week alone, with hundreds of other community members with no regard for affiliation, I attended the Carrot Festival at a conservative synagogue and a program on the Entebbe raid at Shabbos House (Chabad).
Throughout our history, none of the enemies of the Jewish people ever cared about our religious affiliations. I’m grateful to live in a community where we don’t care either.