One of the world?s most prominent rabbis, Rabbi David Rosen, visited Seattle this past month--stopping by Seattle University?s School of Theology and Ministry to meet with a small group of faculty, students, and staff, as well as a few local rabbis and members of the American Jewish Committee. Rosen had visited the school six years ago as well, seeing value in connecting with faculty and community members that the school gathers together.
Rosen?s passionate interfaith engagement as an orthodox rabbi is not only unusual in the Jewish community but also rare in other, more traditional religious communities. Often we find that only progressive and liberal members of traditions do much of the interfaith work in the United States and abroad. However, Rabbi Rosen?with his orthodox rootedness and theological commitments?has challenged religious and political leaders throughout the world to embrace the religious pluralism that is now a global reality. Rosen says that, as people of historical faith traditions, we are all required to figure out how to be a faithful member of our tradition while providing our communities with accurate knowledge, encounter opportunities, and dialogue in the place of ignorance or suspicion of other traditions.
Seattle University?s School of Theology and Ministry is committed to pioneering a deeper, more nuanced approach to interreligious work?bringing together orthodox, conservative and progressive members of each tradition to the table. Joining the conversation with Rabbi Rosen and our faculty, staff and students were reform, conservative and reconstructionist rabbis as a part of the conversation.
Rabbi Rosen shared some of his thoughts on the current state of interreligious relations in our world today. One of the key points Rosen made was the critical need for people of faith to remain open to the changing world and the dynamics of power and opportunity that are shifting on a global scale?requiring the role of religion to shift and adapt. Rabbi Rosen is wholeheartedly engaged not only in global movements for justice, advocacy and mediation work across religious divides, but has his finger on the pulse of regional and local concerns?including the work here in Seattle. He talked with local rabbis about those programs and the social and economic needs here in Seattle.
Rabbi Anson Laytner commented about the time with Rabbi Rosen:
?Rabbi Rosen has much to say (and very eloquently too, I might add) about Catholic-Jewish relations, Pope Francis (whom he has met), Muslim-Jewish relations, the roles (both constructive and destructive) religion plays in the Middle East and more. It was very valuable for the school?s faculty to hear from such a renowned expert and Jewish leader. Both for faculty as well as for the rabbis in attendance, it was an opportunity to look at interreligious relations from a more global and non-Christian perspective.?
Current Divinity student Corey Passons said that listening to Rosen was like ?drinking from a fire hose,? as the rabbi?s responses to themes and questions presented by the group were incredibly nuanced?revealing great knowledge and experiences in a variety of contexts. Corey commented:
?As a student of theology, it was a rare privilege to hear directly from an orthodox rabbi who is so deeply committed to interreligious dialogue. Rabbi Rosen explored numerous current global trends in interfaith dynamic and encouraged the ongoing interfaith aspirations of us here at the school.?
Conservative Rabbi Jill Borodin of Congregation Beth Shalom shared about her experience in the conversation:
?I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from and dialogue with Rabbi Rosen ? this sort of opportunity is key for the development of individual community and religious leaders and learning together is critical for creating greater understanding and deepening intercommunity relationships. ?I look forward to more of these opportunities and opportunities of greater length to continue to deepen this important work of dialogue and collaboration.?
Learn more about the school?s partners, here, and Interreligious Dialogue, here.
More About Rabbi Rosen
Rabbi David Rosen, former Chief Rabbi of Ireland, is the International Director of Interreligious Affairs of the American Jewish Committee and is based in Jerusalem, Israel. He is a past chairman of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations.
Rabbi Rosen also serves as the Advisor on Interreligious Affairs to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel; is a member of the Chief Rabbinate's delegation for Interreligious Dialogue; and serves on the Council of the Religious Institutions of the Holy Land. Rabbi Rosen was recently appointed as the only Jewish member of the Board of Directors of the King Abdullah International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, established by the King of Saudi Arabia together with the governments of Austria and Spain.
He is an International President of the World Conference of Religion for Peace (WCRP), the all-encompassing world inter-faith body; Honorary President of the International Council of Christians and Jews (ICCJ); a member of the Executive of the World Council of Religious Leaders; of the Elijah Interfaith Institute?s Board of World Religious Leaders; and a trustee of the Coexist Foundation. He has served as a member of the Executive Committee of the World Congress of Imams and Rabbis and as a member of the Executive Committee of the World Economic Forum's Council for promoting relations and cooperation between the Muslim and Western worlds.
He was a member of the Bilateral Commission of the State of Israel and the Holy See that negotiated the Fundamental Agreement between the two, leading to the establishment of full bilateral relations in 1994.
Read a recent Huffington Post feature with Rabbi Rosen, here.?
Photo Credit: www.ajcatlanta.org