President Joel: All Jews Own a Sacred Story

President Richard Joel on the Need for All Jews, Despite Their Disagreements, to Live as “A People with a Purpose”

Jews may love to tell each other the hoary joke about how three Jews, stranded on an island, will build four synagogues — one for each individual to pray in, and one for all three to boycott.

But for Richard Joel, president of Yeshiva University, the Jewish communal trait satirized in this joke “is a problem,” not a delight.

Joel came to Milwaukee last month ostensibly to be featured speaker at the installation on May 2 of one of his school’s graduates as rabbi of Anshe Sfard Kehillat Torah.

But this leader of the flagship institution of American Modern Orthodox Judaism sought to do more than wish Rabbi Wes Kalmar and his wife Jessica good luck and blessings in taking the synagogue’s reins from now emeritus spiritual leader Rabbi Nachman Levine and his wife Leah.

Joel also apparently wanted to communicate some messages and visions about Jewish life in general and the need for all Jews, despite disagreements with other Jews, to live as “a people with a purpose.”

“Our sacred story has to be owned by everybody,” Joel said to a group of about 25 local Jewish leaders — rabbis, plus agency executives and volunteers — in a meeting at ASKT prior to the installation ceremony. “In the long term,” Jewish life cannot endure “if it is not informed by some type of sanctity,” he said. Read full article in The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle…

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