The guests today, Edmond Weiss, a retired communications professor, and Carl Viniar, a mediator and former attorney, are both undertaking alternative studies that lead to rabbinic ordination. Viniar is studying to become a rabbinic pastor, and Weiss is studying in an online rabbinic seminary.
In the second half of the show, Rabbi Address speaks with Udi Bar-David, a member of the Philadelphia Orchestra who has started ArtTolerance, a new initiative for dialogue to break down cultural barriers, and Rabbi Leigh Lerner, who has just authored a novel, The Mossad Messiah.
About the Guests
Edmond Weiss, Ph.D., a retired professor of communications, currently studies at the Rabbinical Seminary International, which offers an individualized program for the training of the Modern Rabbi. The student cultivates practical skills and knowledge that can enable him or her to serve as a congregational and pastoral rabbi, teacher, counselor, worship facilitator, spiritual healer, and teacher of faith. The program includes instruction in the practical aspects of rabbinical service as well as extensive education in the Bible, Jewish History, Philosophy, theology and varieties of Jewish Spiritual experience. Students work privately with experienced Rabbis and tutors providing as many opportunities as possible to practice their skills in actual situations.
Carl B. Viniar has for more than 20 years been one of one of the most active divorce mediators in South Jersey. Now he has embarked on a new journey, studying to be a Rabbinic Pastor through the Ordination Program of Aleph, the Alliance for Jewish Renewal. Jewish Renewal is a transdenominational movement which combines the values of egalitarianism, the joy of Hasidism, the spirit of the havurah movement and the wisdom of tradition. When he read on the Aleph website that there was a Rabbinic Pastor path to Ordination, that was for “prospective clergy drawn to spiritual service primarily through pastoral care, ritual craft and holy accompaniment through life changes….for those who have a sincere willingness to serve the Jewish people in spiritual leadership, yet their life circumstances will not allow for the caliber of text competence and depth of traditional learning to be called rabbis,” he knew he found a new home. With synchronous online classes, and several residential retreat weeks during the year, he has been immersed in subjects like Biblical Hebrew, The Book of Job, and Foundations of Jewish Practice, and Sage-ing for Clergy, and he is looking forward to starting his clinical pastoral education. He considered the Rabbinate after college, almost 45 years ago, but got distracted with career and family. Viniar says “the road to get here has been a winding one, but at this stage of my life, these studies, and the idea of serving my community in this way, gives me a joyful purpose, and an exciting future.”
Udi Bar-David, an American Israeli cellist, is widely considered one of the most versatile cellists in the world today. Equally at home as a classical cellist and an innovative improviser of music of all genres, he has enjoyed performing on international stages with both classical and ethnic musicians from all over the world. Winner of the 1976 International Villa Lobos Competition in Brazil and the 1984 WFLN Young Instrumentalist Competition, Bar-David has appeared as a soloist with the Philly Pops under Peter Nero, and appeared on the TODAY show and radio broadcasts with the Network for New Music. Bar-David performed with leading orchestras in Israel and recorded at the Jerusalem Music Center, founded by Pablo Casals. He served as principal cello in the International Youth Orchestra, the National Orchestra of New York, American Ballet Theatre, Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia and in 1987 joined The Philadelphia Orchestra, of which he served on the board of directors and as the artistic coordinator for the Hear O Israel concert at the Core States Center. He was the founder, president, and artistic director of Intercultural Journeys, a nonprofit organization based in Philadelphia that is committed to the pursue of coexistence and peace through the arts. Spreading the messages of hope, understanding and coexistence, Bar-David continues to work tirelessly to perform and create opportunities for open dialogues, bringing people together from different cultural backgrounds at universities, public venues and peace-loving communities. His unique genre of cross-cultural music has been heard all over the world. He recently founded Artolerance, an important new effort to expand the crucial role music and the arts play in fostering understanding and tolerance between communities in conflict.
Rabbi Leigh Lerner is rabbi emeritus of Temple Emanu-El Beth Sholom in Westmount, Quebec. He received his A.B. from Duke University and was ordained at Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, Ohio. His articles have appeared in secular and Jewish periodicals. He has continually advocated and worked for social justice in Israel.
About the book: Israel’s spy masters awaken their prime minister to a human rights nightmare: rapid population growth will give the ultra-Orthodox control of Israel’s parliament in a generation. Mossad and Shin Bet covertly recruit the secret secular scion of a powerful and “childless” Hasidic rabbi’s illicit affair. The spy agencies reveal hidden family history and offer a startling proposition: a daring gamble and a risky gambit to change that future. The novel’s plot-driven story concludes with a stunning surprise. This well-documented tale of predictive fiction sounds the alarm on Israeli domestic issues stemming from an imperious religious orthodoxy that rides roughshod over human rights while advantaging itself in ways that threaten the economy, security, and nature of the Jewish State.
Throughout the novel, Leigh Lerner makes effective use of Jewish tradition, giving opportunity to enter the mindsets and practices that motivate Israel’s diverse society. Yet, at the same time, there is full enjoyment of a fast-paced tale of drama and social significance. The Mossad Messiah challenges the soul and the ethic of Israel and of Jewish people everywhere.