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Hope in a Hopeless God
Rabbi David Hartman, who died last year, came from an Orthodox Jewish religion. His beliefs ran deep with tradition. He also was a Philosopher and teacher of the religion. Yet he felt at a young age that the laws of Judaism didn’t line up with God’s love for all humanity.
Rabbi Hartman moved to Israel in 1967 from Montreal Canada. One of his many concerns that bothered him about his religion was exclusion of women from participating in religion activities. He wondered why women could flourish in some industries, yet powerless in all religious aspects. Women were considered less than man. What kind of religion allows this to happen, he thought? Tova, his daughter, grew up and became an Orthodox feminist for the revolution. Her influence along with the writings of William James and Peter Berger among others changed Rabbi’s attitude. He always had a passion for the human condition even though he was taught to be true to Orthodox Jewish laws which only concerns among them. Rabbi was proud to be a Jew; and yet ashamed of the limited thinking and beliefs of his people. They failed to see the world through compassion just as God see us all. Your conscious should make you want to show the love of God in you. Rabbi responded in the discussion, “God wanted me to be moral”. He struggled trying to make a connection with all faiths and beliefs, not just his Jewish faith. He called it “the reshaping of God”. Rabbi Hartman continues to follow God’s instructions to open the minds of the Orthodox Jewish faith to the world.
He challenged the values of Judaism. He started the Shalom Institute which was considered a safe haven for all religions. Rabbi spoke of breaking the cycle and sharing in dialogue with people of all faiths and religions to bring about change and peace. Within the walls of the institute, no chain of command existed. The Shalom Institute provided training for girls and women into traditions of Jewish religion. Classes were held for Jews and Rabbis of different Jewish traditions. Included were spiritual teachings with military officers that opened a dialogue for change. His dream was for Israel to meet people with dignity. He was known as public Philosopher for the Jewish people.
I enjoyed listening to Rabbi Hartman and Ms. Krista Tippett. Here was a man with a vision to open his people up to the love of God instead of the laws of old. “Joyful are those who seek God; not those whose found God”. His love for God and strong conviction shined through denial of change with his own faith. “Judaism has the capacity to make the transition as a tradition”. Rabbi Hartman said “philosophy opens up windows of possibilities, it doesn’t give you truths”. He brought to the table dialogue of ethical and spiritual issues of the Orthodox tradition and suggestions for change. Even though history is important in knowing the laws of religion, the present in which God’s love, shows through all. The Rabbi brought down barriers with some Palestinians in order to study and understand their religion and way of life in which the people are seeking. He hoped for peace in the Middle East. He truly was a man of God that believed through faith and conversation was the key for growth and change. My eyes opened up to the belief that we as people are comfortable in our beliefs and traditions, but be open to change. Rabbi Hartman displayed with a humble heart by not letting go of our unwillingness to open ourselves up to change; we will never grow together as God’s children.