Hannah Elkin, a fourth-year Rabbinic and Education student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles, is attempting to help Jewish teens find meaning in Jewish theology, rituals, values and stories as a means to finding meaning in Jewish relationships. To that end, she is focusing on Jewish education as the keystone that will support the architecture of Jewish meaning and belonging.
She recently published an article on the eJewishPhilanthropy site entitled; The Purpose of Jewish Education is to Log In to the Jewish hNetwork.
Her message is an important one for its eloquence, substance and unique perspective. “As a Jewish millennial, I too am searching for deep and authentic spiritual fulfillment,” Elkin writes. “While I certainly find it at times through Buddhist teachings or nature panoramas, my spiritual home is Judaism. I find the greatest joy in the Jewish practices and wisdom that I have found along the way and then incorporated into my life through my own exploration and agency.”
Her words will resonate with many of her contemporaries.
But her “elders” should also take her words to heart. For in addition to addressing her peers, she is also addressing her parents and grandparents.
“The challenge of Jewish leaders today is to help Jewish learners find the Judaism that is personally meaningful to them, creates opportunities to develop as an individual, and connects them with a community of other engaged and caring Jews.”
In one particular line of argument, she deftly illustrates the indispensability of education as the deep connective tissue to our Judaism.
“What is hateful to you, do not do to another … the rest is commentary.” One of the most commonly quoted sources in Judaism, this verse from Bavli Shabbat 31a describes the piece of wisdom that Hillel supposedly gave to a potential convert to Judaism who requested that Hillel teach him all of the Torah “standing on one foot.” However this pithy expression often leaves out the conclusion of the full saying: “What is hateful to you, do not do to another … the rest is commentary, now go and learn.” The full line clarifies the deeper role of education and learning in Judaism: one might take a piece of wisdom, but do not forget to keep searching for the whole.”
Elkin’s full article can be found here.
Shabbat Shalom. GAJE