Deadline Now: Toledo's Jewish Community
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Deadline Now: Toledo's Jewish Community

Friday, October 28, 2011

Host Jack Lessenberry welcomes leaders of Toledo's Jewish community to the show: Rabbi Moshe Saks of Congregation B'nai Israel, the center for Conservative Judaism in the greater Toledo area for 144 years, Rabbi Ed Garsek of the Orthodox Etz Chayim congregation, as well as Rabbi Samuel R. Weinstein of Temple Congregation Shomer Emunim, the center for Reform Judaism in the Toledo area.

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Here are Jack Lessenberry's final thoughts for this edition of Deadline Now:

There’s been a small but dynamic Jewish community in Toledo as long as there has been a Toledo, and it is difficult to imagine what the city would have been like without their contributions, from the civic leaders they’ve provided to the institutions they’ve supported.

Yet though we talk all the time about “Judeo-Christian traditions,” those of us who are not Jewish seldom really know what is meant by that. Most non-Jews of my acquaintance are largely unfamiliar with the concept of “Tikkun olam,” which is at the center of Judaism, and which roughly translated means “repairing the world.”

In other words, that we have a moral and social responsibility to leave this a better world than we found it. That’s a concept that few of us can have any quarrel with -- and which is why the American Jewish community has such a distinguished record of philanthropy.

That concept originated more than two thousand years ago, as did another famous incident. According to one of Judaism’s most beloved stories, a gentile once approached Hillel, a distinguished rabbinic scholar, and asked him sarcastically if he could teach him the whole Torah while standing on one foot.

Previously, the non-believer had asked another rabbinic sage the same question, and the irritated scholar whacked him with a rod, which is what I would have been tempted to do.

Rabbi Hillel, however, told him this: "That which is hateful to you, do not do unto another. That is the whole Torah. The rest is commentary -- now go and study." Christians ought to recognize that as the origin of what they call the Golden Rule.

Seems to me that it would make a lot of sense, whatever our religion, or even if we don’t have any religion, to stop doing that which is hateful to others. Not to mention trying to understand people different from ourselves.  Well, that’s enough commentary.

And as I often tell my students, now go and study.