A small but intense audience braved sleet and snow to attend Haver’s panel Tuesday night entitled “A Jew is a Jew is a Jew? Israel, Diversity, and the Jewish Future: A Dialogue with Boulder Rabbis and Rabbi Dalia Tibon Lagziell” at Congregation Har HaShem. As sometimes happens with a panel of five rabbis, the topic shifted to focus less on Israel and more on the definitions and boundaries set or crossed within the Jewish world and by and between the rabbis on the panel.
Rabbi Lagziell, who is visiting from Har HaShem’s sister congregation in Zichron Yaakov in Israel, talked a little about growing up “ultra secular” in Israel, and having to come to religious practice almost as an intellectual exercise… exploring it in college as a “safe environment, and finding out that it (religious knowledge and observance) doesn’t bite.”
The main discussion, however, seemed to be between Reform Rabbi Josh Rose of Har HaShem, and Orthodox (Alternadox) Rabbi Gavriel Goldfeder of Aish Kodesh, as they agreed to disagree on the definitions and boundaries that have come to mark one denomination or community of Jews from another.
Rabbi Jamie Korngold, the Adventure Rabbi, spoke of growing up as an American, with America’s emphasis on the individual over community. This experience created tension for her between “what’s good for an individual, and what’s good for the Jewish community,” such as recognizing the children of a Jewish father as Jewish, or performing a mixed marriage, both of which she does.
Roger Vossler, a long-time member of Har HaShem, summed it up for many when he commented that having been converted in the Har HaShem community, he knows his conversion isn’t halachic enough to be recognized in Israel, and that while he doesn’t agree with much of the Jewish Defense League’s rhetoric, the one thing he wishes would be adopted is their theme that “a Jew is anyone willing to stand up publicly and say, ‘I am a Jew.””