Sunday, September 25, 2016

“Don’t Know Much About History”

from the pages of Kadima, the newsletter of Congregation Adas Emuno:

From the desk of …                    
 Rabbi Barry Schwartz


Those are the opening words, of course, of the classic Sam Cooke song “Wonderful World”.

Cooke was writing a love song, and it’s a great one at that. In a love song, history is not so important. In a love song, one can crow about not knowing much else. Ignorance of the past is almost a badge of honor.

But in real life, history matters. Ignorance is not bliss. As George Santayana said famously, “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.”

The Torah is preoccupied with remembering history. Judaism certainly subscribes to the notion that to know where you are going you need to know where you have been. And not only are we commanded to know our history, but we are likewise directed to teach it to our children.

This year we will be devoting our Shabbat morning Torah study to history. Not ancient history, but the modern Jewish experience that has shaped who we are. Our year­long subject is entitled The History of Reform Judaism. We’ll begin with an introduction that looks at the profound impact of Spinoza,
Baruch Spinoza
Mendelssohn, and the French Revolution
Moses Mendelssohn
on the Jewish community. From there we will look at the fascinating rise of Reform Judaism in 19th century Germany. The second half of the year will chart the growth of Reform Judaism here in the United States.

What do we believe, and why? What events have shaped our community? What does it really mean to say we are American Reform Jews? I invite you to learn with me and with your fellow congregants and wrestle with these questions each Shabbat morning (10:00­-11:30 AM) beginning on Sept.10.

A number of special sessions (including a four session history of the Holocaust by a guest scholar) will take place, so a full schedule will be posted on our website.

Don’t know much about history? Here’s your chance to do something about it!

With warm wishes for a wonderful and knowledgeable New Year,

    Rabbi Barry Schwartz


No comments:

Post a Comment