Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Should We Take God More Seriously?

For those of you the read or peruse Haaretz online, you might have noticed a regular paid advertisement stuck into the heart of the page taken out by the Shalom Hartman Institute. I personally never click on advertisements (but apparently people do otherwise google and facebook would not be so successful) but I clicked on it last week.

The reason I clicked was that I noticed the name and face of Tal Becker, a fellow at of the Shalom Hartman Institute, who I heard speak for the first time at a symposium just a few short weeks ago (turns out that we are neighbors as well).  He is a pretty good orator and has a good sense of the key issues facing Israel and Judaism today.  His present piece he writes about "Taking God (a little More) Seriously".

Near the end of his essay he states:

Imagine if this were the way religion and religious leaders were recognized in the public arena. Imagine if bringing God into the public square meant a supreme concern for the welfare of the collective, rather than the restricted needs of separate religious communities. 
I find this point worth highlighting because I think this is a negative byproduct of a poor educational system and reflects many of my concerns about the state of tefilla today.  Many young people look to or are influenced by popular culture for spiritual icons and/or role models.  Where are the religious leaders that can offer an engaging sense of identity for growing, modern adults?

When I attended an Idan Raichel Project a few years ago, and the audience sang along with the band to his poetic verses from Jewish liturgy, a felt a great, sad disconnect - that this music band had the ability to cause such a spiritual high and this feeling is rarely felt in a shul (perhaps only during a Friday night service).  Who are the rabbis and teachers that inspire greater faith and stretch their activities into the public arena? 

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