Rabbinic Panel at Har Hashem

l-r: Rabbi Marc Soloway, Rabbi Ori Har DiGennaro (not on the panel) Rabbi Dalia Tibon Lagziell, Rabbi Josh Rose, Rabbi Gavriel Goldfeder, Rabbi Jamie Korngold

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.””


About David Fellows

I've been writing things since grammar school, and served as a writer, photographer and/or an editor on my junior high and high school newspapers; the Daily Trojan at USC (where I earned my journalism degree); the student newspaper at the Anderson School at UCLA (where I earned my MBA); and written and edited countless business documents and presentations in the ensuing twenty years. I've been involved Jewishly since my bris and in Boulder since 1995. I'm married to my Executive Director Cheryl, and we have two children, Lauren and Ethan.

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  1. You caught the substance of the evening. Obviously this can be a contentious subject, and might have become more so had these wonderful Rabbis not been such good friends and so respectful of their positions. It is certainly a subject that cannot provide clear messages in one hour. Nevertheless, it is a subject over which Jews world over ponder, about which they are very sensitive, and depending on personal experiences, can lead to exclusivity and alienation.

    Obviously, we ourselves are the only ones that examine this subject through magnifiers dissecting the philosophical and fundamental elements of who is a Jew….the rest of the world, as exemplified during countless anti Jewish encounters including WWII persecutions, as well as more neutral references, are not so particular about the Hallahicly interpreted rites of passage. during those encounters, we are all "bundled", specifics be damned.

  2. R.Gavriel Goldfeder

    I don't think that is what Rabbi Rose and I were disagreeing about. More accurately it was about whether and how G-d and G-d's will, as expressed in the Torah, is honored as part of the conversation among standard liberal meta-values of liberalism, egalitarianism, self-determinism, and cooperation. And we did not agree to disagree–it is clear to me that Rabbi Rose is wrong.