Thursday, April 7, 2011

Had the great opportunity this morning to be part of a panel for my friend Dave Campbell's political science class at Notre Dame. Dave, along with Bob Putnam, is author of the recent book "American Grace: How Religion Divides us and Unites Us" (about which I've written previously). For my part, I was able to speak a bit about my own background, education and experience, and address how Reform Judaism fits in the spectrum of American religious life. Several of the students had visited Temple (or one of the other local congregations represented by the panelists), so it became an even more comfortable forum for them to ask questions related to our remarks or their studies. A few students joined us guests for lunch following the class session, which capped off the experience in a very warm and inviting way.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this episode for me - also going a long way to Dave and Bob's thesis in their book - was the makeup of the presenting team. In addition to one priest from the Notre Dame community itself, the others of us have even closer connections beyond today's class. Professor Campbell is also a neighbor, whose son attends school with and is the dearest friend to my son; a third presenter, Scott Scheel, serves Edwardsburg Presbyterian Church (Edwardsburg, MI), and ALSO lives in our subdivision, and has a son who goes to school and is friends with both young Campbell and young Siroka. Our final presenter, a twenty-something from Granger Community Church (the local "mega-church"), not only grew up in our very neighborhood, his parents are still here, so he considers our locale "home". The idea that 5 professionals from such very disparate places on the religious spectrum could be so personally interconnected remains one of the most powerful, and uplifting elements of our lives today.
As a life-long Reform Jew, and a rabbi privileged to serve this unique community, I couldn't be more jazzed by this chance...

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