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Lehigh students of different backgrounds explore Rome together

By Rabbi Danielle Stillman Lehigh University A rabbi, a priest and a minister walk onto an airplane. No, this is not the beginning of a bad joke, but rather the start of an interreligious dialogue trip that the Chaplain’s Office at Lehigh University recently sponsored. The Rev. Dr. Lloyd Steffen, university chaplain and professor of religion, Father Allen Hoffa, Catholic Student Center priest, and myself, a rabbi and the director of Jewish student life at Lehigh, took 24 students to Rome over spring break at the beginning of March. With support from a grant from the Russell Berrie Foundation, we spent a week together exploring the religious and interreligious history of this amazing city.

The students, from a range of religious backgrounds, got to know one another as we explored the city together. We bounced from the Great Synagogue and Jewish Ghetto, to the Vatican and a public audience with the Pope, to the Grand Mosque of Rome. We met with religious leaders and institutes from all over the city who are explicitly involved in interreligious dialogue. We ate gelato and pizza at every chance along the way, gawked at ruins of ancient Rome, and took in amazing works of art. The students and trip leaders asked constant questions of each other, observing and learning about how a Catholic mass works, what the flow of a Kabbalat Shabbat service is and how people pray at a mosque. We learned

the history of anti-Judaism in Rome, which so often blurred on the part of the church with anti-Semitism. We also learned about the Catholic church’s groundbreaking response to that age-old hatred in the form of Nostra Aetate, a Vatican II document that was published in 1965 and charged every Catholic with putting aside antiSemitism and no longer blaming Jews for the death of Christ. This document called for dialogue with Jews, and it will reach its 50th anniversary next year. The dialogue is alive and well in Rome, and it has grown beyond its original Jewish-Christian focus to encompass other religions, including Islam. Throughout it all, I was reminded for myself and for the students of the magic of an encounter with another tradition, which allows us to learn about each other and ourselves. The Jewish students were guides to their non-Jewish friends at the synagogue, the Christian students saw the roots of their liturgy in Judaism and everyone gained knowledge about what we have in common with each other and what is distinctly our own. We also saw that interreligious dialogue is serious business and hard work with real and important consequences for the peace we all seek in this world.

Please join Keneseth Israel as we celebrate

60 years of History on Chew Street Saturday May 16, 2015

Congregation Keneseth Israel

2227 West Chew Street, Allentown, Pennsylvania

6:00 pm

pre-show sumptuous food stations

For more information and to reserve your seats, please call Keneseth Israel at 610 435-9074


Bimah Broadway From

{Part 2}

8:00 PM entertainment Featuring

Cantor Jenn

and Friends singing songs by your favorite Jewish composers Followed by a Dessert Reception

Rabbi Michael Singer named Jewish associate chaplain at Moravian

By Julie Taffet JFLV Marketing Intern Rabbi Michael Singer, the Rabbi at Congregation Brith Sholom in Bethlehem, was recently appointed as the new Jewish associate chaplain for Moravian College. Rabbi Singer is a Conservative rabbi who has served the spiritual and religious needs of U.S. Marines, police

officers and firefighters. “It’s really an honor,” Singer said. “I’m there as a resource to any of the students and faculty.” Singer plans to direct and teach students on how to lead a seder, teach mini courses on ethics and Jewish texts and add his Rabbinic expertise to Moravian. “It is fun to be with the students and see how they are crafting their Jewish identity,” he said. Recently, Singer led a dinner and discussion about if it is moral and consistent with Jewish values to participate in or be spectators at sporting events that involve physical harm. “I am really grateful that he has agreed to serve in this role for us,” said Professor Jason Radine, the faculty advisor for Hillel at Moravian. “Rabbi Singer has graciously agreed to pick up the baton and continue Moravian’s relationship with Brith Sholom.” HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | APRIL 2015 23

HAKOL - April 2015  
HAKOL - April 2015  

The Jewish newspaper of the Lehigh Valley in eastern Pennsylvania