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February 26, 2009 - Image 43

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2009-02-26

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Human Bonds

Scholar sees relationships as propulsion for Jewish life.

Robert Sklar



he theology of relationships
commanded the spotlight at this
year's Rabbi B. Benedict and
Ada S. Glazer Institute on Judaism held at
Temple Beth El in Bloomfield Township.
"The Theology of Relationships is sim-
ply based on the belief that the most pow-
erful and important aspect of what we are
about in life and within congregations are
the relationships with other people that we
create and hold on to:' said Rabbi Richard
Address, scholar-in-residence a the 67th
annual Glazer Institute for Catholic,
Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, Muslim and
Jewish clergy on Feb. 13.
"Indeed," Address said, "it is these rela-
tionships that give texture, meaning and
substance to our life. More powerful than

any program are the human connections
that bind us together to form a communi-
ty. It is the strength of these relationships
that propel us to maintain membership
in a synagogue, and it is the lack
of meaningful relationships that
allow us to leave."
The Institute, attended by more
than 300 area clergy members,
originated in 1942 when Rabbi
Glazer invited several ministers
to Beth El, then in Detroit, to hear
a lecture on Judaism and share
mutual concerns. In 1952, follow-
ing Dr. Glazer's death, the Institute
was renamed in his memory. In 1999, fol-
lowing the death of his widow, it again was
Rabbi Address is director of the Union
for Reform Judaism's Department of
Jewish Family Concerns. The depart-

ment works with Reform congregations
to create caring communities founded
on the theology of sacred relationships.
Areas of concern include contemporary
Jewish family, the aging baby
boomers, intergenerational care
giving, self-destructive behaviors,
inclusiveness and openness for
people with special needs, and
the impact of emerging medical
technology on choices confront-
ing Reform Jews.
The Theology of Relationships
Address is based on interpretations of a
series of Torah texts.
"The interpretation of these texts begins
with the fundamental relationship that we
have with God and speaks to the idea of our
inherent worth, the tensions between seek-
ing connection and feeling alone, and the
need to translate these ideas into the world

through mitzvot!'
Address went on to discuss the "idea of
our own confrontation with our own mor-
tality and the permission that the texts
give us to challenge, and challenge our
own relationships with self and God!'
Choices dictate the nature of our lives,
he concluded. "We can make sacred choic-
es that affirm life and how we deal with
the randomness of life's choices!'
Rabbi Daniel Syme of Temple Beth El
was ordained with Rabbi Address in 1972
at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati.
Syme called Address' perspective "brilliant
in its application to people's lives, their
aspirations, their dreams!'
"He didn't just speak to the mind," Syme
said. "He spoke to the human heart with a
sense of humor that was captivating and
an enthusiasm for his subject that was
contagious!' ❑

Peace In The Bible

Scholar parses meanings between biblical and current uses.

Debra B. Darvick
Special to the Jewish News


hat is the Bible's concept
of peace? Is it merely the
absence of war? Or does the
biblical understanding of peace encom-
pass wider perspectives and concepts?
Baruch J. Schwartz, who teaches at
Hebrew University in Jerusalem and
is currently a visiting professor at Yale
University, will speak about "Peace in
Israel and Among the Nations: The
Biblical Vision" at 7:30 p.m. March 1 at
the Jewish Community Center in West
Bloomfield. The Frankel Jewish Academy
(FJA), housed in the JCC, is sponsoring
the lecture.
Schwartz aims to challenge listeners

Couples Club Kickoff
Temple Israel has organized a "New"
Couples Club, an affiliate group filled with
social and cultural activities for couples
in their 30s, 40s and 50s.
Its opening event at the West
Bloomfield temple will be a 1980s-
themed party — complete with drinks,
dessert and dancing — at 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 28. The cost is $36 per cou-
ple or free for those who pay an annual
membership of $54.

to consider the idea of peace beyond its
over time. "Etymology is controversial
literal understanding in English — a
and not always helpful," he said. "It can
freedom from disturbance.
sometimes be misleading!'
"We translate [the Hebrew word
Schwartz's connection to FJA
`shalom] into its specific English word
reaches back to the formative
— 'peace' and thus restrict it
years of the school's Jewish
to its most narrow meaning,"
Studies Department. Rabbi
he said. "In the biblical context,
Eric Grossman, then Bible
we're not talking about 'peace'
Department head and now head
but about `shalom.' Shalom' is
of school, was committed to the
a broader, richer and juicier
idea of having a strong focus
word. The term 'shalom, in the
on language and grammar in
context of biblical Hebrew [is
Jewish studies. "Paying attention
quite different] "from the unidi- Baruch J.
to the intricacies of the Hebrew
mensional way we use the word Schwar tz
language in ancient texts (spe-
cifically the Bible) is the key to a
He starts with actual words in the text deeper philosophical understanding of
rather than inferring meaning from a
issues both ancient and contemporary,"
word's historical development and usage says Grossman, who met Schwartz while

The club and event are open to non-
members of the temple. To RSVP, contact
Shelley Meltzer at {248) 910-3950 or
shelleymeltzer@gmail.com .

Comcast Aids Kids
The Comcast Foundation will provide an
$8,000 grant to the Jewish Federation of
Metropolitan Detroit to support the Kids
All Together a program that integrates
children with disabilities into existing
educational, recreational and cultural

The children attend the Sarah and
Irving Pitt Child Development Center at
the Jewish Community Center in West

Underage Purim Drinking
As part of the Orthodox Union's "Safe
Schools, Safe Shuls, Safe Homes" initia-
tive, Executive Vice President Rabbi Tzvi
Hersh Weinreb has issued a call for par-
ents to alert their children to the dangers

a rabbinic student in Efrat, Israel. "This
is why the Academy places such a focus
on language and grammar?'
The lecture is co-sponsored by the
Jewish Forum and the Cohn-Haddow
Center for Judaic Studies at Wayne State
University in Detroit.
Schwartz's talk is part of a two-lecture
series. The second will be an address by
Isaiah M. Gafni of Hebrew University on
Sunday, March 22. The lectures are free
to FJA's current, alumni and prospective
families and $10 for the general public.
A reception follows each lecture. Please
register by e-mailing or calling Robin
James: rjames@frankelja.org or (248)
592-5263 ext. 231. ❑

Debra Darvick is on the FJA staff.

of drinking on Purim.
"The fundamental rationale of our
opposition to alcohol consumption by
teenagers on Purim is the fact that drink-
ing often leads, especially among young-
sters, to serious medical consequences:'
he said. "These considerations of health
and pikuach nefesh (the saving of lives)
easily transcend whatever mitzvah might
be involved in drinking on Purim."

February 26 • 2009


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