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Pacific Area Reform Rabbi’s Conference

01/05/2011 11:38:55 AM

Jan5

Rabbi George Gittleman

I am writing to you from PARR, the annual Pacific Area Reform Rabbis conference in Palm Springs. PARR represents a large region from Texas to New Zealand; there are 200+ rabbis in attendance this year.

I’m here for 3 reasons: To get the word out about our search for a Rabbi-Educator; to study with the conference scholar, Rabbi Michael Marmur; and to learn with/share best practices with my colleagues. And, since I’ve been in the region for almost 15 years, it’s nice simply to see and catch up with people.

Rabbi Marmur’s presentations are about creating a new theology for our time. Interesting to me is the fact that he, like most everyone else I’ve heard/spoken with, is openly acknowledging and speaking about the wide-spread and profound alienation many Jews feel from their Tradition. He is attempting to develop a theological paradigm that will speak to people who are not motivated, inspired or committed to the traditional Jewish focus on Community (an obligation to) and Mitzvah (the sense of both commandment and obligation). He, like most everyone else, has more of a sense of the problem than the solution, though he is offering some interesting food for thought, which is too complicated/involved to blog about and which I am sure to share with you when I return.

Rabbi Michael Comins is also here, among a number of other scholars, and I sat- in on his presentation about his new book, Making Prayer Real. The book is written for the Jewish, religious seeker, who has not been able to connect to Jewish worship, yet yearns for a deep and sustainable Jewish prayer practice. I bought a copy and have invited him to come and speak/teach at Shomrei Torah. He’s been with us before and was very well-received (I am also on his advisory counsel for his other work – Torah Trek).

In addition I attended sessions about the “American Jewish English Dialect” (I bet you didn’t know one existed!), “Clothing and Gender in Jewish Tradition”, as well as an hour meeting with the Israeli Council General from Los Angeles, Yaakov Dayan.

Along with all the learning, we also have services in the morning and the evening. In fact, last night the whole evening program was centered around worship with a focus on innovation. There was a panel discussion amongst the various service leaders (the cantors conference was also in town and joined us for this program), and then three different services were offered. I chose to pray in the “Visual Liturgy Service”. There were no siddurim (prayer books) rather
everything was projected onto the wall. In addition to the words, images were also used to reflect the various themes of the service. Visual liturgies are one wave of the future worth exploring…

I am enjoying being enriched by my time at PARR but when it comes to Jewish life, time away from Shomrei Torah always fills me with gratitude for what we have built and continue to offer together. I can’t wait to be back in time for Shabbat!

Blessings…

RG

Thu, April 2 2020 8 Nisan 5780