Service-learning is more than an academic exercise designed to link experience and education. It is an ethical exercise intended to build character. Service-learning assumes a sacred dimension when doing good work is also understood as doing God’s work, when the moral and the spiritual domains converge. In order to assess the impact of a service-learning project for rabbinical students now…
If the Passover Haggadah were to be distilled to a single sentence it would be “In every generation, it is an obligation for every person (notice that it does not say “Jew”) to see him or herself as though he or she made the Exodus from Egypt.” The Passover Haggadah does tell not a history lesson; it tells a memory lesson, because memory begins when history becomes personal. Passover is so core to the Jewish experience that we recall the Exodus from Egypt whenever we drink wine and recite Kiddush on any other holiday.
I invite you to listen in on my ongoing conversation with God. Perhaps you will recognize God in it. I hope you will recognize yourself in it. I invite you to be part of this journey, both in listening and in writing your own Dear God letter and submit it to our editor for publication here, where we try to model how reflection, service and a commitment to the sacred in our lives shape effective and inspiring Jewish leadership.
The myth of self-sufficiency is as common as it is misleading. We may very well live in the most highly individualistic, entrepreneurial culture in human history. We seem to worship, or come very close to worshiping, beings that were created in the image of God, but are not God. What I did not realize or fully appreciate for the first 58 years of my life that I have learned in the last 3 months is what a blessing it is to be cared for, to feel the loving embrace of family, friends, teachers, colleagues, students and other people whose paths cross our own.
The Jewish community has always been larger than the synagogue community, a fact we ignore at our own peril. Sacred service-learning is an attempt to broaden the horizons of emerging religious leaders, who increasingly will not fill existing jobs, but rather co-create them.
We intend to express religious identity outside of the sanctuary, to connect our souls and our soles, and to reclaim the proposition that a religious leader needs to be three dimensional—working on a relationship with God, with people and with self.