Common Ground and Challenges

There must be a joke that begins with, “Rabbinic leaders from 36 countries, accompanied by Cardinals, Bishops and Priests from as many locations, walk into a bar…” I haven’t heard the joke yet, but if anyone has, please share it with me.

Attending this conference with Cardinals, Bishops and Rabbis, representing Beth Zion Congregation and all of Canada, has been an amazing experience. I had the opportunity to sit with the Chief Rabbi of India and hear about the challenges he faces. I also spent time talking with the Bishop of Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia who does most of his work in secret. Last night I ate dinner with the delegation from Pakistan and davened this morning with the Chief Rabbi of Peru. This is truly an international event.

Among the many speakers that have spoken was Rebbetzen Blu Greenberg (scholar, author and wife of the well known rabbinic leader, Rabbi Yitz Greenberg). She was asked to speak on the topic, “How to share our values with our children.” Something that leaders of all faiths struggle with.  Another session discussed dwindling attendance at religious institutions and how to address our modern – open society. These are issues that we can all find common ground discussing.

Of course there are difficult issues that have been raised by leaders of both faiths. Can we get past thousands of years of Christian persecution towards the Jewish community? How can we work together collaboratively with trust and not project on the other an alternative agenda. These are not simple questions – our national historical relationship with the church has been written with much spilled blood. I will not return with answers to all of these questions, however I look forward to exploring these questions at a later date in Montreal at Beth Zion.

I want to close by sharing a short list of many of countries who have sent either their chief rabbi or senior rabbinic leaders: Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, Peru, Uruguay, India, Brazil, Chile, Austria, France, England, United States, Canada, Holland, Poland, Italy, Ukraine, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Israel, Kenya, South Africa, Luxemburg, Australia, Cameroon, Japan and several other locations. I didn’t even know that there were Jewish Communities in many of these locations. Looking forward to updating everyone tomorrow.

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Rabbi P.







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