Don’t Leave Anyone Behind

by Rabbi Lilly Kaufman

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When Moses asked Pharaoh to allow the Israelites to offer the Pesach sacrifice in the desert, Pharaoh wanted to know who was going along. Moses made a simple statement, which became a great principle: b’n’areinu uv’z’keineinu neyleych (with our youth and with our elders we will go). Moses expressed a crucial idea, born in a moment of tense negotiation: we Jews stick together, and we don’t leave anyone behind. Moses stood up
for inclusion of all of Klal Yisrael when it wasn’t easy. How blessed are we that we are relatively secure, and we are the profound beneficiaries of a multiplicity of Jewish resources, most especially our extraordinary seminaries.

I thought I knew our seminaries pretty well, especially the Jewish Theological Seminary, where I spent so many years as a student. But so much has changed, and despite trying economic times, the changes have been for the better. For example, the new Juilliard workshop and concert series at the H.L.Miller Cantorial School reflects some very creative curricular enrichment.

In this twice-yearly program, musicians from Juilliard engage in master class workshops with JTS cantorial students, and then perform in a public concert. The students from both schools share musical ideas, their creative processes and musical cultures. In one recent workshop, they compared improvisatory jazz moves with the improvisatory stylings of cantors. A thrilling project.

At the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies there is also great innovation to report. Most especially, Rabbis Bradley Shavit Artson and Cheryl Peretz are leading the way in establishing the Zacharias Frankel College, a new rabbinical school in Potsdam, Germany. What an amazing achievement, a progressive rabbinical seminary springing up in a suburb of Berlin, just 70 years after the liberation of Auschwitz! And the German government
pays the bills, as part of the European system of state-funded religion.

I am also excited to travel the country as well. In May, Women’s League President-elect Carol Simon and I will visit the Ziegler campus as part of our visit to Women’s League’s Pacific Southwest Region. And by the time you read this, I will have attended events in BQLI, Seaboard, Intracontinental, and MetroNorth Regions. I would love to come to your region, and the sooner I receive a request for next year, the better!