I witnessed an unusual event in early December. An Orthodox Rabbi stood in a Reform Temple and reviewed a book about the life of Rabbi Menachem Schneerson, the last Lubavitcher rebbe.
The audience included members of many synagogues in Ottawa. As the presentation ended and the questions began, one sensed that there was a serious conversation taking place that Sunday morning concerning the very nature of 21st century Judaism.
It was not a conversation between secularists and religious Jews, but between religious Jews striving to understand the religious nuances that both united them and divided them. It struck me that perhaps this type of conversation last took place in pre-war Berlin when Rabbi Schneerson, philosopher Martin Buber, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and Rabbi Joseph B. Saloveitchick had coffee between classes. Or perhaps this was the kind of conversation that took place in first century Judea between the Pharisees, Sadducees and Essences when they were not trying to invalidate each other. [Read more…]