One of the things I am most excited about this year is my ninth grade Hebrew High School class. Our group is focusing on learning other religious traditions through a Jewish lens and we have already encountered some great people. In addition to meeting members of our local clergy who share their own religious beliefs and experiences, we are visiting all of the major local houses of worship. Two weeks ago, we visited the Princeton United Methodist Church and next week we are going to Nassau Presbyterian Church in Palmer Square.
This past Sunday, since there was no Religious School I had a bit of time on my hands so I decided to go to the Methodist Church for their worship service and I had a very positive experience. I was welcomed by many people who sat near me that morning, including many who did not know I was the local Rabbi. I witnessed the children of the Church School receive their first Bible and the ceremony to mark that moment for the students and the parents. I followed the service in the various books that they use and the special printed program for that week. I was very inspired to witness the things that happen in that church and to think about some of the same things we do here at TJC.
Later in the day, I was invited to speak at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation on Cherry Hill Road. They wanted me to share a bit about our traditions and customs and to discuss our religious diversity. They would like to learn how to be more diverse in their congregation so they are looking to learn from other congregations including ours. The gathering was immediately after their worship service and it was a productive and informative conversation for both me and the group.
I am proud of the multi-faith work that I do here in Princeton and I am inspired when other members of TJC join me in these activities. We have a few things planned in the coming weeks and I hope that you will possibly join me for some of them.
- On Thanksgiving morning, I will participate in the Multi-Faith Service in the University Chapel at Princeton University at 11 AM. A number of people from TJC help to organize the service and participate every year.
- On Shabbat morning, December 7th, members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation will join us for our Shabbat morning service here at TJC.
- On Wednesday evening, December 11th, the Ninth Grade SULAM class will visit the Islamic Society of Central New Jersey on Route One in Monmouth Junction to learn more about Islam. Everyone is invited to join us there at 6:30 PM to get a tour of the Mosque, meet with Imam Chebli and stay for their worship service that begins at 8 PM.
As we move into the holiday season and think about our religious neighbors also observing holidays - some the same as ours and some that are very different - I want us to be proud of the role we play in the greater community. I want us to be comfortable expressing our Jewish pride as we learn from other traditions with respect. And I want us to feel free to share with others more explanations of our traditions and rituals. This all helps makes our community that much stronger.
Rabbi Adam Feldman