December 5, 2022 | 12 Kislev 5783
Light in the Darkness: A Christian Perspective
By Rev. Tom Reid, Associate Director of the Miller Center
It is hard to believe it is already December and that we are only weeks away from the end of 2022. Soon, we will see a growing flurry of end-of-year donation requests, retrospective lists (highs and lows), and predictions and resolutions for the new year.
While Christmas and Hanukkah do not occupy the same position of importance in the Christian and Jewish liturgical calendars respectively, and our understandings of the symbolism of light differ, they both point to a common ancient human desire to bring more light and warmth into our hearts, homes, and communities during the darkest and coldest time of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.
Appreciating the Other: A Taste of BILI Online
By Joshua Polanski and Rafi Ellenson
Faces tell stories and are a source of meaningful connections between people. The old film-school cliché “The close-up is the most dangerous weapon in cinema” still rings true. When a face is seen so intimately up close on the big screen, the face can feel real. The final shot (below) of mainland Chinese director Jia Zhangke’s A Touch of Sin is not, technically speaking, a close-up, it nonetheless demonstrates the power behind the cliché. Even removed from its original cinematic context, this image, a collection of faces, tells a story.
Sit with and reflect on the image, the final shot of A Touch of Sin for a few minutes. What stories do you see? What faces stand out to you? What kind of movie do you imagine A Touch of Sin is? Did the frame maintain your attention longer than a typical image with one or two faces would?
Emmanuel Levinas, a Lithuanian-French Jewish philosopher, a man who experienced the horrors of Nazism, spoke powerfully about the ethical responsibility of looking at another human face: “The first word of the face is ‘Thou shalt not kill.’”
Faces matter in the American judicial system too. Consider how race, signaled through skin color, impacts sentencing. We are all influenced by implicit racial biases, judges are no exception to this all too human phenomenon which, as a Cornell Law study found, significantly impacts the sentences handed down...
Beacons of Hope: Our Interreligious S/Heroes
By Rev. Tom Reid, Associate Director of the Miller Center
Each month, we will honor an individual (or group) who inspires the bridge-building efforts of the Miller Center. Each honoree embodies the values of inclusivity, justice, and compassion in different and unique ways.
The work of the Miller Center is rooted in relationships. This applies to all our initiatives—with teens, young adults, seminarians, and professionals. Our “Beacon of Hope” for December is a person who embodies this ethos and who has become a valued colleague and friend.
Harmeet Kaur Kamboj (they/them) entered the Miller Center orbit through their work as a program manager at Interfaith America—our partner on the expanded BILI fellowship. Harmeet has been a wonderful addition to the BILI leadership team, and I am excited to work with them on this unfolding national venture.
Harmeet is a fierce advocate for inclusion—for Sikhs and Sikh traditions, as well as for trans and non-binary lives—and they inspire us with their commitment, their wisdom, their creativity, and their collaborative spirit. Plus, they are a lot of fun to work with!
In addition to their program-related work, Harmeet is also a performing artist, public scholar, and zine-maker. Harmeet is both a dancer and instructor specializing in South Asian dance. They have written for the Religion News Service, Sojourners, and Interfaith America Magazine, and recently published their first piece of original reporting in the October issue of The Revealer, housed at New York University’s Center for Media & Religion. The article is entitled, “Virtual Communities are Critical Lifelines for Transgender Sikhs.”
Thank you, Harmeet, for all that you are and all that you do! We are delighted to celebrate you and the work that you do with the Miller Center, Interfaith America, and beyond.
Recent Events and Publications
Rabbi Rose on Anti-Semitism and the Celebration of Jewish Life
Philadelphia Artwork Brings Catholic Church’s Synod to Life
Writing for the Religion News Service, Kyle Desrosiers, the Miller Center administrative assistant and Master of Divinity student at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, reported on the digital artwork produced at the Synodality in Catholic Higher Education in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The Synod conducted 48 listening sessions last spring and summer at 14 colleges and other Catholic campus organizations in the Philadelphia area. Visual notetaking played a key role at the Synod, according to Desrosiers.
“[The] artwork represents many of the students’ dreams, sorrows, worries and hopes for the church: women’s ordination; the inclusion of LGBTQ people in community; the engagement of religious and ideological diversity; the pursuit of racial justice; and a robust response to the global ecological crisis.” Read more on RNS.
About the Betty Ann Greenbaum Miller Center of Hebrew College
The Miller Center was established in 2016 in honor of Betty Ann Greenbaum Miller (of blessed memory), MAJS’05. Our mission is to provide current and future religious and ethical leaders with the knowledge and skills to serve in a religiously diverse society.
Please consider supporting this important work with a financial gift. Thank you!
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