Friday, October 26, 2007

A hero for our time

I just want to give a "shout out" to Rabbi Paul Steinberg, a dear friend and colleague of mine who is hosting me on my trip to Dallas for the ACPE conference.

This morning, I had a chance to see Paul at work for a couple of hours as the rabbi of a Jewish day school here in Dallas. As I heard Paul say this morning to a number of parents considering sending their children to his school, day school is the leading way of assuring that children will identify as Jewish throughout their lives. There are few tasks that seem more Holy to me than the task of working to preserve the future of this Holy people Israel by encouraging children to become Jewish in a way that lives not just in their minds, or even their hearts, but deep down in their bones.

Listening to Paul talking to these parents this morning, I was deeply moved by his passion for this task and for his work. He expressed a vision of a Judaism that is about educating the whole person in such a way that they not only have their intellect stimulated but that they build the strength, courage and fortitude to withstand even the greatest challenges of life.

Paul's efforts to build Jewish continuity go far beyond just his work in the school. Paul is also the author of a new series of books on the Jewish Holidays. With these books, Paul has created something that is both highly accessible and that has great depth. It's something that will both encourage people to take up Jewish practices for the first time (or reengage them after many years of absence), and will be a force in their lives to keep observing as the years go by and they grow and change spiritually.

May it be the will of the Blessed Holy One that Paul will find the strength and resources to continue his great Holy work and that he will touch -- and help grow -- many a Jewish soul.

Shabbat Shalom.

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