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Erev Shabbat Message from Rabbi Feldman

Dear Friends,
 
After three amazing weeks in Israel, I am glad to be back in Princeton and back at The Jewish Center. I appreciate all of your greetings and good wishes both on my return and in honor of our family celebrating Ilan's Bar Mitzvah in Jerusalem. 
 
We look forward to celebrating with the congregation as Ilan chants the Haftorah on the first day of Shavuot - Wednesday, May 31st and I look forward to sharing more thoughts and comments about my trip with the congregation tomorrow morning during our Shabbat service.  I have many stories to share from the trip including one that I want to share here.
 
In my years in Princeton, I have become very involved in the interfaith work that we do in this community. My Christian and Muslim friends have become my teachers and colleagues and these are important relationships in my life. Due to their influence, I see the world a bit differently now and my eyes have been opened to multi-faith experiences including how much our religious views are similar. To spend time in Jerusalem, a city that is sacred to all three monotheistic religions was a special treat for me as I continue to study the sacred texts of other religions and allow their traditions to influence me.  I had one specific multi-faith moment in Israel on a beautiful Sunday morning.
 
It was Sunday, April 16th- a day that was a significant holiday for both Jews and Christians (Passover and Easter). That morning, I organized a little outing for my family. We began our morning by going to the Kotel - the Western Wall where people were gathering for the Sunday morning worship on this intermediary day of Pesach. We joined with a traditional Minyan at the Kotel and did our best to keep up with all that was going on. As I prayed that morning, I felt a bond with everyone around me. We were all Jews that came together, from various places and backgrounds, who wanted to pray together at this sacred site on this sacred day.
 
After about an hour, I took everyone on a short walk, through the Arab market, into the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem, to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. As we arrived, they were about to begin Easter Mass. At first, I was surprised that the church was not as crowded as I expected, but the further we walked into the church, and we passed the holy sites where Jesus spent his last hours before his death, the crowds increased. We saw many different forms of worship and we heard many different languages. It was clear that people came together from all over the world to be in this site on this day and I felt honored to be there to witness it all. As we stood near the front of the church, watching the participants prepare for the mass, we met a Christian Priest from Tiberias in Northern Israel. He told us about the years he has spent in the Holy Land, the Church that he serves and the important interfaith work he does in Israel. He explained to us many of the proceedings and the deeper meanings of Easter. He said that Easter is about love and about respect and about accepting the true essence of everyone.
 
That Sunday was a special day.  To experience the contrast of going from a worship service in an environment where I was comfortable and understood what was happening , to a totally new worship service in a strange place where I felt like an outsider, was quite powerful. I know that I appreciated each religious experience even more, because I understood how closely tied they were to each other. It was something that can only take place in that great city of Jerusalem.
 
Shabbat Shalom
 
Rabbi Adam Feldman
Posted: 4/28/2017 10:02:13 AM by | with 0 comments

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