Monday, February 14, 2011
The Rabbi of India
What a treat we had Sunday. The room was full of educators and a few guests, because once word got around about the teacher, Rabbi Hyim Shafner, and his topic "How The Jews of India Changed My Perspective" everyone wanted to be there.
No one was disappointed, either. There were slides and personal stories from Rabbi Hyim's time in India. He explained how the Torah and Talmud stories came more alive for him, meeting these people, who have a strong Oral Tradition - and very little Textual Teaching.
Meeting these people, the first thought was "they do not 'look Jewish" - until he rapidly understood, HIS appearance was the different one.
He shared with us a few things distinctive to the people in India, and kept a promise he made to them by inviting us all to come see the place Elijah's Chariot took off to heaven.
My favorite part was how he shared the different understanding between East and West - here, in the "Western World" we often separate from "faith" - using "scientific exceptions" in our thinking (these are totally my words here . . ) - There, in India it is taken for granted that everything (spiritual and physical) is ONE.
I enjoyed the rabbi's openness, and, especially his personal stories. I wonder if i would be welcome in his shul for more learning. Either way, I shall certainly look for more opportunities to hear from this wonderful man.
Rabbi Hyim Shafner is the senior rabbi of Bais Abraham in University City. I have found that congregation to be warm and welcoming, and have no doubt, on special occasions, all of us would be invited to participate.