March 6, 2023 | 13 Adar 5783
Beacons of Hope: Our Interreligious S/Heroes
By David Mahfouda, Shanah Aleph Hebrew College Rabbinical Student and Miller Center Intern
Every month, we honor an individual (or group) who inspires the bridge-building efforts of the Miller Center. Each honoree uniquely embodies the values of inclusivity, justice, and compassion. Tara Brach, the American psychologist and popular author, is our Beacon of Hope for the month of March.
Tara Brach is an American psychologist, author, and founder of the Insight Meditation community in Washington DC. Tara is my interreligious hero—not on account of any specific work she has done to build bridges between faith communities—though her work regularly unites people across faith—but because of her promotion of the values that animate our religious commitments: justice, peace, compassion, and understanding—irrespective of creed. She’s made and continues to make practical, loving, and deep spirituality accessible to millions. Perhaps it would be more apt to say simply: Tara is my hero. Of the many ways I’ve been influenced by Tara, I'll share two:
I went through a painful breakup in 2020. One of the medicines I self-prescribed was a daily walk through Prospect Park in Brooklyn, listening to Tara’s podcast. I’d walk, listen, and weep. I think I found these sessions with Tara’s teaching so healing because of Tara’s gentle insistence on accepting our own emotional realities, regardless of what they may be. She helped me relate to myself with kindness and honesty.
Tara’s talks were also a significant part of what made me want to pursue rabbinic ordination. After spending time with her teachings, I’d consistently recognize a shift in “frame”—I began seeing the world differently. For lack of a better term, I would describe it as a spiritual shift. I found that I was experiencing more beauty and depth, which helped me move through the world with greater peace and grace. I said to myself, "I want to stay here, in this place of fearless acceptance"—or maybe I should simply say “this place of acceptance." Tara would likely encourage us to welcome our fear as well.
Psalm 22, Queen Esther and Us
By Rabbi Or Rose, Director of the Miller Center
Psalm 22 is one of the most well-known biblical texts among contemporary Christians, but many Jews today barely recognize it. The reason for this difference is largely because, according to the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, it contains the words Jesus cried out while being crucified: Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? This Aramaic statement is a direct translation of Psalm 22:2 (originally written in Hebrew): “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
The crucifixion narratives have played an essential role in the lives of countless Christians for millennia. No part of this psalm has served nearly the same function in the Jewish religious imagination. But these words—and the psalm as a whole—have been valuable to many Jews over the generations, especially those experiencing hardship. Not only does the psalm give readers permission to express their own pain and disappointment with God, but it moves from an opening cry of abandonment to praise for God’s deliverance. The psalmist thus offers the seeker hope in the possibility of salvation.
By Rev. Tom Reid, Associate Director of the Miller Center
The first week of February I traveled to Nicaragua with a small delegation from Boston’s Church of the Covenant (COTC), and represented my own congregation, Newton Presbyterian Church. For 27 years COTC has maintained a sibling church relationship with a base community church in the village of Dulce Nombre de Jesus. Delegations have gone from north to south and south to north over the years. The last delegation from Boston to Nicaragua took place in 2019.
On this trip, the five of us from COCT were welcomed into the homes of local host families. We ate together, worshipped together, and I, a Presbyterian pastor who is married to a man, had the blessing of celebrating Communion/Eucharist with a community of faithful Catholics who do not regularly have access to a priest and rarely if ever get to participate in this central practice in the Christian faith. This boundary-pushing pastoral opportunity was a rare and special experience for me.
Preparing Our Hearts for Passover & Easter — Annual Program
Friday, March 24, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. @ Temple Beth Zion, Brookline
Join fellow students and colleagues from Hebrew College, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, Boston University School of Theology, Harvard Divinity School, and the Boston Theological Interreligious Consortium for Preparing our Hearts for Passover & Easter program. Explore the ways in which Jewish and Christian clergy, religious leaders, and fellow students, prepare personally and professionally for these holy times. For more information, please contact the Miller Center.
Hebrew College Co-Hosts Annual Conference of the International Council of Christian and Jews (ICCJ) in the Boston Area, June 2023.
The Miller Center is honored to join with the ICCJ and our partners at The Center for Christian-Jewish Learning of Boston College to plan and host the 2023 conference, June 18-June 21. The theme for this year’s conference “Negotiating Multiple Identities: Implications for Interreligious Relations” will use the lens of intersectionality to examine the rise in global antisemitism, racism, and discrimination based on gender identity and their connections to one another.
To learn more about the conference theme, schedule, speakers/teachers/facilitators, and registration materials, click here.
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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