November 7, 2022 | 13 Heshvan 5783
Beacons of Hope: Our Interreligious S/Heroes
By Rabbi Or Rose, 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.
“I see each individual life represented by a single thread...
The varieties of threads create a beautiful pattern that flow through the fabric
as if on the breath of life itself.”
—Betty Ann Greenbaum Miller, Tapestry
I first met Betty Ann (of blessed memory) a few months after my arrival at Hebrew College as a young faculty person in the fall of 2002. She and a small group of pioneering students from Hebrew College and Andover Newton Theological School (our immediate neighbor for many years) helped inspire me and others to work with students, faculty, and staff to make interreligious education a distinct feature of the two schools.
Her work in philanthropy and volunteerism began many years before her arrival at Hebrew College. As an undergraduate student at Stanford University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in human biology in 1983, she helped found the quarterly magazine Surviving. This was among the first publications to address the physical and emotional issues faced by cancer survivors such as Betty Ann.
After raising two sons, Adam and Matthew, her focus turned once again to communal affairs and compassionate care. She served as a founding member of the of the advisory council for Jewish Family & Children’s Service’s Jewish Healing Connections and as a parent liaison and board member at The Rashi School. Betty Ann also pursued advanced Jewish learning at Hebrew College, first by completing the Me’ah adult education program, and then a master’s degree in Jewish Studies. She also began training in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) but was unable to finish her chaplaincy training due to mounting health issues.
As a founding member of Journeys on the Hill—a joint initiative of Hebrew College and Andover Newton Theological Seminary students—Betty Ann helped bring together her peers for interreligious dialogue and to develop the interpersonal skills necessary for true bridge building experiences. She led with quiet confidence, encouraging others to bring their unique gifts to this nascent venture. She was a deeply kind and caring person, who was committed to creating inclusive and equitable communities. While Betty Ann may not have been able complete her CPE training, she served as a spiritual guide to many people.
Journeys on the Hill was a forerunner to CIRCLE—the Center for Inter-religious and Communal Leadership Education—and to the Betty Ann Greenbaum Miller Center for Interreligious Learning & Leadership of Hebrew College, established in her memory in the spring of 2016 by her beloved husband of nearly 36 years, Dan Miller.
I miss Betty Ann very much and feel honored to work in a center that carries her name and builds on her pioneering interreligious efforts. Daily, we strive to manifest the values she embodied so gracefully as a leader of Journeys on the Hill and in many other settings.
May Betty Ann’s memory continue to be a source of inspiration and blessing to all who knew her and to those who learn about her life and legacy.
Sukkot & Diwali: Welcoming Celestial & Human Guests
By Rabbi Or Rose, Director of the Miller Center
This year, my family and I had the honor of hosting 15 high school fellows from the Miller Center’s Dignity Project into our sukkah. On a beautiful Sunday fall afternoon, we gathered to share a meal and explore the theme of hospitality, which is integral to this harvest holiday.
In advance of the event, I asked the students to bring something to adorn (even temporarily) the sukkah space that would also help us learn more about them. The fellows responded in thoughtful and imaginative ways, focusing on different aspects of their identities.
One poignant example was the gift Tanvi, a 16-year-old Hindu student from the North Shore of Greater Boston, presented to us. She kindly offered my family a set of brightly colored ceramic bells fashioned by one of her family members for the upcoming Hindu festival of Diwali. Tanvi explained that like Sukkot, this ancient celebration focuses on hospitality, and that the bells are commonly hung on doors as a sign of welcome to celestial and human guests. She added that among the related customs is for Hindus to leave their front doors open (even just a crack in colder climates) to welcome guests throughout Diwali as a concrete sign of hospitality.
This exchange with Tanvi led us into a related conversation about the mystical Sukkot ritual of Ushpizin (Aramaic for “Guests”), of welcoming sublime spirits from the Jewish past into our harvest huts, and by extension into a discussion about whom the youth would want present in the sukkah that day. Who, I asked the youth, would they like to invite to this fall meal, during which we give thanks for the bounty of the earth while also acknowledging the fragility of life (as represented by the temporary and flimsy sukkah structure)? The range of responses was as diverse as the fellowship group itself, including such historical figures as Jesus and Sojourner Truth, as well as contemporary musicians, activists, and family members.
I want to thank the Dignity Project fellows and staff for visiting our sukkah and helping us fulfill the mitzvah (sacred obligation) of hospitality. Doing so with such a thoughtful and kind group truly made this a “joyous season” (as Sukkot is described in Jewish tradition)!
Dignity Project “Open Mic Night”:
Sikh Sacred Worship Offering
By Shelton Oakley Hersey, Dignity Project Program Director
During our opening retreat in late August, the new Dignity Project fellows stepped out of their “comfort zones” at the annual “Open Mic Night” to share their talents and passions with the burgeoning community. Through their offerings of music, storytelling, poetry, dance, etc., the youth witnessed different facets of one another while experiencing firsthand the layers of diversity each person carries within themselves and across the group.
Attached is a brief video of two Sikh youth—Riya Patel and Danveer Nijjar—playing (the dilruba and the tabla) and singing (in Urdu) Sikh worship music at our annual “Open Mic” event. Due to the sacred nature of their worship music, they requested no applause or cheering at the end of their musical offering; the appreciation the group held quietly for this soulful sharing was palpable.
Recent Events and Publications
Rabbi Or Rose, “Seeking Refuge in a World of Uncertainty: Psalm 27 and the Jewish Fall Holiday Cycle,” October 29, 2022
In this 90-minute program, hosted by Temple Beth Zion of Brookline, Rabbi Rose led an exploration of Psalm 27—including music and visual art—the traditional psalm recited one month prior to Rosh Hashanah until the end of Sukkot.
Rev. Tom Reid, “Memory Problems,” Hebrew College, 70 Faces of Torah, October 2, 2022
"And as a Presbyterian pastor, taking on Ha’azinu affords me the opportunity to do a mitzvah of sorts, by giving my rabbinical friends and colleagues some breathing room, as they prepare their Yom Kippur services and sermons, while still recovering from the many hours of tefillah (prayer) leadership over Rosh Hashanah!" Read Rev. Reid's full reflection here.
Rabbi Rose, “Sand Talk & the Abrahamic Traditions,” Nasr Book Prize Symposium of the Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion, University of Notre Dame, November 2, 2022
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!
Manage your preferences | Opt Out using TrueRemove™
Got this as a forward? Sign up to receive our future emails.
View this email online.
Hebrew College 160 Herrick Road | Newton Centre, MA 02459 US
This email was sent to .
To continue receiving our emails, add us to your address book.