'SHABBAT LUNCHEON ADDRESS
Rabbi Robert Samuels
Thank you, Mark (Shapiro).
Our Parasha contains a blessing bestowed by Jacob on Ephraim and Menasheh. I greet you with a paraphrase of it as a NAORRR blessing for all of us:
May the God who has led our forefathers and foremothers always go before us;
May the One who has shepherded us from our birth to this day;
And may the Angels who have averted evil from our path;
Bless us, our families and our People;
And continue to call us Israel, as we increase our mission in this world. (adapted from Gen 48:15-16
Annette and I are delighted to be with you today.
I want to thank Don (Berlin) for inviting me to share with you a few of the thoughts, experiences, and events of a half-century of a Reform Rabbi in Israel.
And thanks to Frank and Beth (Waldorf) and their committee for the grant from the Walloch Fund to make it possible to be here.
I want to welcome our guest, Debbe D'Ull, who has joined us from San Francesco, and who gave such love and comfort to my brother, Tom, alav hashalom.
And Annette and I are saddened by the recent death of my classmate and partner, Joe Goldman. Joe and I founded and ran a day camp while students in Cincinnati. Together with Annette and several of you colleagues, we brought the joy of being Jewish to hundreds of Cincinnati's children. My condolences to Sally and their children. We will miss him.
In 1955 Eli Pilchik gave the Isaac Mayer Wise Lecture in Cincinnati. He spoke to us students in the bumming room. With a dramatic hand gesture, he said, "Boys, it's dark out there. Get yourself a friend in the rabbinate". Well, I did - Chuck and Terry (Kroloff) have been our lifelong friends in and out of the rabbinate. Our lives have been so blessed by that deep friendship. Eli was right.
In 1920 Robert Frost wrote "The Road Not Taken". When I was a senior at Brandeis in 1954, Frost came to speak. He told us that when he penned that he had taken "the road less traveled by" it was only a description of that wintry day in New England. We argued with him that it makes a profound difference if one takes the road less traveled by. Well, it certainly has for Annette and me.
For I, like you, was trained to lead an ever more expanding, wealthy and influential Jewish world in America - and most of you did. I would have, and by all rights should have. I was born 7th generation American and 6th generation Texan. One of my ancestors was the first Jewish resident of Houston in 1839 and one of the founders of Temple Beth Israel in 1854.
But the founding of Israel when I was 15; my pioneering spirit and desire to make a difference for the Jewish People after the Holocaust drew me to the old-new Homeland. And Annette's Zionism, imbibed as a child from her father, Rabbi Nathan Colish, profoundly influenced us to live in Israel for 1 1/2 years on leave from my HUC rabbinic studies.
We lived and breathed Israel in the mid '50's. My Hebrew and my Jewishness came alive as I carried Nechama Leibowitz everywhere she taught in Jerusalem on my Lambretta motorscutter , soaking up her wisdom of the commentaries to our Torah; reached down deep into Israel's soil with Yigal Yadin; thrilled to the proud bass voice of Zeev Vilnai, the great guide, who took us all over Israel in dust filled trucks; explored our mystic traditions with Gershom Sholom; learned the fundaments of Jewish education from Ernst Simon. Annette and I shared a simple and beautiful life in Jerusalem then; and we were hooked.
We returned to Cincinnati; studied seriously with Sheldon Blank, Jacob Marcus and Ellis Rivkin; took a 2 year assistantship at North Shore Congregation Israel in Glencoe, Illinois - and dreamed and planned to return to Israel. I didn't know if it would work, but was determined to see if I could contribute to the twin foundations of Israel - to be a modern Jewish society and a democratic State. I knew that my background, training and world view had prepared me for this service to our broken, but proud, people.
So, through the dedication of Sam Cook to the Baeck School (you all remember our NFTY mantras - Bricks for Baeck; From Gehenom to Gan Eden; the Cronbach Chapel),
I got Hugo Gryn, the then director of the World Union in New York, Maurice Eisendrath and Jay Kaufman, to send me to Haifa to work with Dr Elk and to explore how Israelis would accept Reform Judaism. They offered me $5,000. So, in August of 1962 I went to rent an apartment and free our belongings from the Haifa port; one month later, Annette arrived with our three kids (the oldest was 3). She descended from the plane with a son on each arm and our 3 month old daughter on her back. We had $400 a month for our family - and Annette never, not once, complained. I was able to apply myself to my dreams for Israel without concern for our finances, and that is one of the reasons that our Aliyah worked. You want to know what true Zionism is? It's the Annettes who love our Land, our People and our Language, integrate and dedicate themselves and their children to them.
And another reason was that tiny and poor Haifa School. Leo Baeck was a 4 year high school in a dilapidated apartment house on Haifa's Hadar. The facilities were poor; 8 different sized classrooms, a tiny teachers room; no panes on the windows, no heating in the winter or AC in the summer; no facilities for sport; the aroma of cooking from the apartments above us; inadequate bathrooms. But no one complained. The standard of learning was high. Dr Elk had gathered an old-world Germanic faculty of PhDs -Geveret Dr Zavadi, Math; Geveret Dr Zilverstein, English; Geveret Dr Yaakobi, Biology; Rav Dr Elk, Judaics; Rav Dr Daniel, Humanities; Rav Dr Rafael, Talmud. The atmosphere was social and friendly, and the "times" were different. Most students lived in small apartments; material objects were simple, and people's expectations were for content and character rather than material objects and wealth. Leo Baeck's simple building fit right in with the spirit of the day.
You colleagues will find fascinating the 3 rabbis at Leo Baeck in the early years, Dr Meir Elk, Dr Pedatzur Daniel and Dr Avigdor Porat - all graduates of the Breslau Seminary, but very different in their Jewish veltanshang. Rabbi Daniel was orthodox; Rabbi Elk conservative and Rabbi Porat liberal. For instance, Rabbi Daniel would not attend our Shabbat services at the School as he would not ride; Rabbi Elk would take a taxi from his home, but would exit the cab 2 blocks from the school and walk the rest of the way. When Rabbi Porat attended, no one asked or cared how he got there.
Rabbi Daniel considered Reform Judaism to be a caricature of religion. He was tolerant of my presence, but not of my religious liberalism. Rabbi Elk was more traditional than me, but accepting of change and respectful. Rabbi Porat was like me, often seeking me out for a discussion of the Parasha or a suggestion of how to teach issues of the spirit in a developing secular Israeli society. I was free to teach Tanach, Rabbinics, Jewish Thought with the most modern theological and pedagogic conceptions.
Dr Elk created a Jewish atmosphere in the School. The morning began with the recitation of a Psalm; male students took a kepa out of their back pack while studying Jewish texts; students could major in Bible; Rabbinics and/or Jewish Thought; all Jewish holidays were taught and appropriate ceremonies prepared.
Arriving in Haifa on a hot summer day, Dr Elk greeted me and over a cup of tea, I asked him: "Dr Elk, I know what you want from me as a teacher, but tell me what you expect of me as a rabbi". He responded, "Two things: help our students and their families to love Judaism' and get me some Sephardic and Druze students". I immediately knew that I was in the right place.
Regarding the first: One month later, on Erev Rosh Hashana we had our first youth services for over 100 students in a rented Bnei Brith hall, and over the years we inaugurated both the chu'gay HaNoar, the Youth Movement of the IMPJ and the first Progressive troop of the Tzofim, the Israeli Scouts. Our graduates were also the main group in the first garinim to Yahel and Lotan. 10 graduates of Leo Baeck have become rabbis in Israel.
As to the second request of Dr Elk: I immediately went to the ma'a'ba'ra in Haifa's suburb, Kiryat Haim, where I met many families, among them, the Faragi family of 8 children living in a 2 room tin shack. They had come from the Atlas Mountains of Morocco 3 years before. Mrs Faragi told me that Haim, their oldest son, was smart. I told them on the spot that he would start the 10th grade at Leo Baeck the next semester; that he would have a tutor and no cost to the family for all his expenses. Haim graduated with honors and went on to earn 2 academic degrees. 5 more of the Faragi kids graduated from Leo Baeck, though by the time the fourth attended, the family name had been changed to Pereg. Atzmon Pereg, the youngest, played soccer with our son, Ami, and became a regular visitor in our home.
Colleagues, the Faragi- Pereg family is a microcosm of what could have been for all of the children of the million North African and Middle Eastern Jews who came to Israel in the early years of the State. A scientific-humanistic education, coupled with love and respect for their Jewish and Sephardic culture, could have been the base for these proud but poor Jewish communities to understand the values of social democracy and ethical Judaism.
When we built our large campus in the late '60's, we placed it in an area of Haifa that included a large community of North African Jews, and I spent 25 years developing programs to integrate and uplift those Sephardic kids to equality with their Ashkenazic peers and to leadership positions throughout Israel's developing social fabric.
And we sought out Druze students. High on Mt Carmel are Ussifiah and Dalia with some 20,000 arabic-speaking but non-muslim citizens of Israel. I went in search for Druze students. One of Ussifiah's leaders, Zaki Zahir, had a son in the 8th grade. He honored me in his bench-lined living room, and while served by his wife and beautiful young daughter, he told me how important it was for Yoel, his son, to get a good education. I promised to get Yoel a Hebrew tutor, and asked Mr Zahir if he would consider also sending his daughter. He thought for a few seconds, and replied "Not yet". Once when Yoel was a senior, Ezra Spicehandler, who was HUC's Jerusalem Dean, visited Leo Baeck and sat with me in the back of a Talmud class. When the bell rang, Ezra pointed toward the back of one of the students and said to me " That boy could become a Talmudist." It was Yoel Zahir!! Today there are some 90 students throughout the 6-year Leo Baeck High School, and 1/2 of them are females.
At the beginning, I needed to meet with the legendary mayor of Haifa, Abba Khushi. The city was known as "Red Haifa", a main stronghold of Labor. It was important, therefore, to introduce myself and to determine the Mayor's knowledge and opinion of Reform Judaism. As I was ushered into his office during that first semester of 1962, he rose to greet me: "Samuels, I want to know all about you." I gave him a little of my background, he interrupted to ask "I was taught that the Reform Movement was anti-Zionist, so what are you doing teaching in a Haifa school?" I explained that some of the greatest Zionist leaders had been Reform Rabbis - Judah Magnes, Abba Hillel Silver, Stephen Wise, Arthur Lelyveld, Saadia Gelb - and that Reform was changing its ideology as a result of the Holocaust and the birth of Israel, that my purpose was to contribute to "social justice" in Haifa. The Mayor smiled and asked me how I planned to do that. I responded "Teach humanism, pluralism and democracy; bring American Jewish teenagers to live and study at Leo Baeck, educate the children of the shee'ku'nim and teenage new immigrants who haven't yet learned Hebrew, encourage teenagers to volunteer wherever help is needed; and give non-orthodox families an opportunity to study and to practice Judaism in a modern, non-coercive mode". Abba Khushi, the Socialist, jumped out of his chair, strode to the other side of the room, pointed out of the window toward Haifa Port, and said "You see that port down there? That is where our new Israelis arrive. When they come off those immigrant ships, we don't look at the shape of their nose, and we won't look at the shape of their conscience either. Fulfill those tasks, and I will help you." And so he did.
And my teaching worked! I had prepared to become the homeroom teacher for a 9th Grade class. We studied together, I teaching them Tanach and their teaching me literary Hebrew! We traveled the country together, with our Bibles as our guide books; I brought them music based on Biblical personalities, places and events. We debated big Israeli issues in homeroom; we volunteered on kibbutzim for a week each at Sukkot, Chanuka and Pesach. It was a cha'gi'gah!
And I taught Tush'ba (Torah She'b'al' Peh) in the 10th grade; choosing ethical dilemmas in Midrashim. We analyzed the question in a midrash; the answer to the question and the universal lesson for our own lives. I learned a great deal about how the Sabra thinks; about their values and their passions. And I loved them.
Annette and I invited 16 students, 2 from each class, to our Mt Carmel apartment on Friday afternoons; we played crochet on the lawn; had Kabbalat Shabbat at the head of the wadi, watching the sun set over the Mediterranean as we sang the Shema; sat on the floor of my study to discuss the meaning of Shabbat for secular Israeli youth and then into our living room where Annette had prepared a Shabbat meal with all the blessings, chicken soup, and zemirot.
I started the EIE program while still in Chicago. Marc Rosenstein was a gifted 14 year old; I taught him weekly and sent him to Haifa - he was the first EIEer; today Rabbi Dr Marc is the highly respected founder of Makom B'Galil at Shorashim and the director of the Israeli Rabbinic Program at HUC Jerusalem. When I arrived in Haifa, we began to send a few of our best kids to NFTY. The first 3 Israelis to be ordained in Jerusalem - Motti Rottem, Zeev Harari and Gil Nativ were my students who were inspired by NFTY and an American Reform Jewish family and congregation.
(How many of you hosted my EIE students over the years?)
And it continues today; the newest addition to our team of 4 rabbis at Leo Baeck is Rabba Naama Dafne, my student (and perhaps yours) 20 years ago.
But, colleagues, I was trained to be a congregational rabbi - and I love it. So, here is that story:
I started Bat Mitzvah in Israel. Our 12 year old girls at that time didn't even have a party to mark their transition into early adolescence. So, we initiated an Erev Shabbat service on Shabbat Mevoracheen for all 6th grade girls whose birthday fell in that Hebrew month. They all read from Torah, led the service, and at the reception gave a short speech based on their reading. It was moving and memorable and revolutionary for Israel in the early 1960's. Those 6th grade young female adolescents and their families loved the experience, but were unaware that they were breaking new ground in the empowerment of Jewish women in Israel. Today at the Bat Mitzvah of a young girl, a grandmother will approach me to remind me that she was one of the first, way back then!
A larger story is the 4 congregations that I founded, Maram and the first conference of the Movement.
One week after I arrived in Haifa, I was contacted by Shlomo Maagani, an immigrant from Hungary who had been the organist in the large Neolog (European Reform) Synagogue in Budapest. Maagani had fled during the failed Hungarian uprising against the Soviet Union in 1956. In the 6 years intervening he had become totally blind; had just received a job as the telephone operator for the Elite Chocolate Factory in Natzrat Elite, a new immigrant development town above Arab Nazareth. Maagani's dream was to once again play the organ in a liberal synagogue in his new town. I went to meet him; was impressed with his knowledge of the liturgy and his passion for prayer. Together, we formed what was to become the 2nd Reform congregation in Israel, after Har El in Jerusalem which had been founded in 1958. We named it Kehillat Herzl. The mayor gave us the use of a basement apt; I found a manual organ for Maagani; our first service was Shacharit Rosh Hashana, 1962. I brought food from Haifa for a Seudat Chag. The service was attended by 30 new immigrants from Transylvania, Hungary-Rumania. These people could barely speak Hebrew, but they knew the prayers and sang joyously to Maagani's much-too-loud playing of Lewindofski and Sultzer's nusach. The congregation which formed with them and with the Bnei Yisrael liberal Jews from Bombay gave these new immigrants spiritual satisfaction and was a refuge from the strong winds of hardship on that bare mountain in the Galil.
During that 1st year Kehillat Herzl became the focus for my religious work. I went there every Shabbat morning and took with me food for the Seudat Shabbat. NFTS bought Maagani an electric organ and Braille texts for the liturgy ; I sent 2 kids from there on EIE. It was a holy task to bring together these refugees from Eastern Europe and from the Indian subcontinent, these people of difference, in a Judaism based on equality of ethnicity and pluralism.
But Nazrat Elite was to become the first of many missed opportunities for developing Reform Judaism in Israel. We got NFTY to send a Mitzvah Corps there. Together with local teenagers, we built a public park that summer. The mayor was delighted and asked me to come to live there - to become the head of the education system. I couldn't; but I tried, I pleaded, with the WUPJ, UAHC, HUC, CCAR to send a young rabbi - no one was ready to take up the challenge. It was a window of opportunity which would close, as Israel's political system produced more and more religious coercion and orthodox opposition to Reform. Today Nazrat Elite is an urban city with 35,000 Jews and 8,000 Arabs. But it now has a right-wing mayor who is vocally against Arabs living there. It is sobering to think what the city would have become if the roots of liberalism and social justice had been laid back then 50 years ago. This was the first of many missed opportunities of the World and American Reform Movements to become big-time players in the socialization of Israel.
The following year, 1963 I founded Emet V'Anava, the Progressive congregation in Nahariya. It consisted mostly of Yekes, German speaking Jews, many of whom had been members of Reform congregations in Germany in the '30's. That 1st year, I alternated Shabbatot between Nazareth and Nahariah. A portrait of 2 early Reform congregations:
1)The service in Upper Nazareth began when people arrived, in Nahariya exactly on the appointed minute;
2)worship in Natzrat was loud, boisterous and often cacophonous; in Nahariya controlled and orderly;
3)the sermon in Kehillat Herzl was warm and emotional; in Emet V'anava intellectual and test-based;
4)the Oneg in Nazareth was joyful and much appreciated - in Nahariya controlled and formal
A portrait of nascent Israeli Reform, showing the cultures of different communities in the warp and woof of an integrating Israel, only 15 years old.
The following year, 1964, I founded Or Hadash in Haifa and led the congregation for 6 years, until Leo Baeck moved into our new campus. Or Hadash is a story in itself, a tale too large to tell here. It quickly became a powerful congregation in Haifa of several hundred member families, with over 1,000 worshippers on the Ya'mim Nora'im. Rabbis Gunther Plaut, Roland Gittlesohn and David Polish came to give lecture series; Motti Rotem became the long term rabbi of Or Hadash and launched the building of a beautiful sanctuary and center high on the Carmel.
And the 4th congregation I founded is at the Leo Baeck Center itself. Ohel Avraham is - yes, the Cronbach Chapel, Sam Cook's dream for Leo Baeck. Through the years, we have had 8 outstanding rabbis leading that congregation; Leo Baeck graduates, a Brit and 2 Americans. Jeff Klepper was our cantor for a year; Debbie Friedman joined us for months; Benjie Schiller and Les Bronstein sang for us on the High Holydays.
My Aliyah was in 1962; my classmate, Mel Zager, came the following year, changed his name to Moshe Zemer, and settled in northern Tel Aviv. We invited Jack Cohen, the Reconstructionist rabbi of the Hebrew University Hillel, to join us in Moshe's home - and there we founded our rabbinic organization. We searched for an appropriate name. Jack suggested Irgun HaRabbanim l'ma'an kee'dum Ha'Ya'ha'dut (The Rabbinic Organization for the Reconstruction (sic!) of Judaism). Moshe suggested the simpler Moetzet Rabbanim Mitkadmim - Maram, and so it became. We were 3 members then; today we are over 100!
By 1965 there were 6 congregations in Israel - the flagship Har El in Jerusalem; 2 in the Tel Aviv area; and my 3 in the north. It was time to establish an Israeli Reform Movement. I called for a conference in February of that year, to be held in Kfar Galim, a youth village near Haifa. Dr Elk was our conference speaker; he urged us to found a network of Progressive schools throughout Israel. The IMPJ, the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, was off and running. We have just celebrated our Yovel with a huge conference in Sh'fah'eem.
The future of the Baeck school was in jeopardy in '65. When Israel changed its educational system from 8 year free, compulsory, elementary and 4 year tuition based secondary schools - to 6 year elementary and 6 year high schools, it became clear that all the tiny 4 year private schools would not survive. Leo Baeck had to have a Junior High which would feed into a 3 year Senior High. We had to build and develop a new campus. There was only one possibility: The Government planned to partner with the UJA and the Jewish Agency to build 64 6 year high schools, in order to give Sephardic kids the opportunity for a secondary education. Yisrael Ha'sh'nee'ah, "the second Israel" (as the less educated Sephardic population was called) was becoming social dynamite. Leo Baeck had to get into that program. I met with Zalman Aranne, the then Education Minister, and he turned us down. So, I had to go where our potential power was - Reform Rabbi Herb Friedman, the charismatic Director General of the UJA. I couldn't get an appointment with him; so I entrapped him as he arrived at the Israel airport, standing in the doorway as he descended from his private plane with his retinue following behind. As he approached the door, I said, "Rabbi Friedman, I am a Reform Rabbi in Haifa. I need 5 minutes with you". He responded, "I don't have time. Make an appointment." "I tried and couldn't", I responded, "Give me 2 minutes, or you'll have to knock me down to get through this door.
He saw that I was serious; thought for a second; liked the chutzpah; and walked with me to the side. "I teach at the Leo Baeck School. It is the only beachhead we have for a Reform Movement in Israel. Aranne will not put us in the Israel Education Fund. Tell him that you will raise the money for the 64 high schools if he will put Leo Baeck on the list. It is our one shot" He immediately understood, agreed - and all the rest is history. It was one of those moments which change events and lives.
Herb wanted the UAHC to take a lead in bringing wealthy Reform Jews to contribute the minimum of $100,000 to the special UJA campaign. Eisendrath would not agree for the UAHC to participate, so Freedman thought that he could get to that wealth through me. He asked me to raise the necessary $1,100,000 for Leo Baeck, and so I did. It is a marvelous story of 6 American Reform families, about which you can read in the book I am finishing soon. But one story, just to give you an insight.
Caroline was 85 in 1966 when I mined her name from lists of wealthy Reform Jews. A spinster who lived in Manhattan, Caroline had inherited from her Macon, Georgia parents enough money to live on for all of her life. She was known to the UJA professionals, though she was not a regular contributor to their campaigns. I called her and made an appointment to meet her in the offices of NFTY. She had told me in our telephone conversation that with no children of her own, she was interested in investing in the future of Israel's children. I had told her that the minimum gift to the IEF was $100,000. Appropriately, I had sitting around the table with me, Rabbi Sam Cook, Shimon Chasdi, the American Director of EIE with Leo Baeck, and Ira Levine, the representative of the UJA's Israel Education Fund. Caroline was a classy woman who listened intently to our presentation. I gave her a few vignettes of Leo Baeck's students from the 4 corners of the earth; Sam told her of his thrill to be a partner with Dr Elk who was pioneering progressive education in Israel; Shimon spoke of a new Zionism where American and Israeli Jewish youth were to repair a broken world together; Ira cared for Caroline's comfort. She asked a few questions about what we planned to build. I pulled out my own sketches of an educational center in which teenagers would learn and the community would be enriched. When she told us that this was to be the gift of her lifetime, I asked if she would like to memorialize her parents by naming the school building. She began to cry - and when she did, so did we. This became a defining moment in her long life. She asked the cost of that building. Without a professional estimate in hand, I figured to ask her for 1/3 the project's total cost; so, I responded with "$350,000, Caroline." That was a sizable sum in 1966. She cried once again, said that she could do that and that she would. We thanked her and Ira, who had been giving her tender loving care, leaned close to her, thanked her in the name of the Jewish People and promised to arrange all the details.
This highly emotional and substantial gift set us on a successful path. Sam felt that for the first time he could rest assured that Dr Elk's and his dream would survive; Herb Friedman was very pleased as it was at the time the largest donation to the IEF; Maurice Eisendrath was amazed (and a bit jealous); The World Union, my employer, couldn't have cared less, except for its volunteer legal counsel, Judge Emil Baar, who faithfully represented Leo Baeck in the contract with Caroline and the IEF, and he did it with all his heart.
In fact, Caroline wanted us to have all of her estate. After pledging the $350,000, she had some $250,000 left, and the interest on that was sufficient for her needs. She promised to leave the residue of her estate for an endowment for student scholarships.
We invited Caroline to attend the groundbreaking ceremony in June, 1968. It was her first and only visit to Israel. Rabbis Friedman and Eisendrath embraced Caroline at this historic event, and Caroline said it was the highlight of her life. All of us fell in love with this cultured and sensitive woman. For several years following, I invited her to lunch each time I came for fundraising in New York in order to give her nachat from the beauty of life at Leo Baeck and the progress of construction. She always met me at her favorite deli on the corner of 6th Avenue and 57th Street. One year I called her, but she said that she could not meet me as she was ill. "Caroline", I said, "I can't be in New York and not see you. I will come up to your apartment." She argued with me, but I insisted. It was to be a fortuitous decision, as upon entering her apartment hotel, the Great Northern on 57th, I found a criminally neglected abode with many questionable characters loitering in the lobby. Caroline Greenfield, the largest benefactor to the building of Reform Judaism's Israeli flagship, was living in a dump. I pleaded with her to come to live with us in the Brei Brith Parents' Home in Haifa where she would have hundreds of loving children and an appreciative community. "No, all of my money will go for our children in Israel", she insisted.
I asked Judge Baar to help once again. We met with Caroline's nephew, Rabbi Abram Vossen Goodman, and the 3 of us formed a conservatorship, as agents for Caroline who was now 90. We invested her money by entering her into a beautiful parents home on Long Island where she lived comfortably until her death at the age of 104!. In 1984 Leo Baeck received the residue of Caroline's estate - $250,000!
The Julia and David Vossen Greenfield School Building in Haifa is her Georgia parents' lasting legacy, and the many teenagers who have received Caroline Greenfield scholarships are her immortality. It is one of the inspirational spiritual tales of 20th Century Jewish life.
OUR NEW CAMPUS PUTS US ON THE MAP
In the summer of 1970, as vice principal and the successful entrepreneur of the new Leo Baeck Campus on Haifa's French Carmel, it was a great satisfaction to welcome to Haifa the delegates of the first Israel Convention of the CCAR. We gathered in the internal courtyard of the new stepped pyramid building, the roof of which was still not completed. Roland Gittelsohn, the then CCAR president, a strong Zionist and long time supporter of both Leo Baeck and Or Hadash, said the following: "We American Reform rabbis have watched with great pride the pioneering work of Rabbis Elk and Samuels. I personally have lectured in the school and in the congregation. We are sending our best young people on the Exchange Program and welcoming Baeck's students in our communities. Under great pressure from Israel's political and religious leadership, but with unswerving dedication to their principles, these Reform rabbis are blazing a trail toward a Movement based on our highest spiritual conceptions. We salute you and will continue to support you."
After working with Dr Elk for 12 years, in the Spring of 1974 I received my appointment as Headmaster and General Manager of the newly named Leo Baeck Educational Center from the Education Ministry, the Haifa Municipality and the 2 powerful teachers' unions. At a combined meeting of the Board of Directors and the staff, I said: " On September 1st we will inaugurate the 36th year of our precious institution. We have been led through the years by Dr Elk, Dr Daniel, Elisheva Egozi and by many learned men and women of the spirit. We who are to lead, to teach and to educate the next generation stand ready for these tasks because of all that the generation before us has done. Dor-dor-v'dorshav. The mantle of opportunity and responsibility is now being passed to us. I hereby declare that we will continue to develop the School, and we will inaugurate a Community Center based on those values which have characterized Leo Baeck through the years, a humanistic Judaism based on social justice and equality for all. We will prepare our students, intellectually, socially and morally for a life of value in Israel. We will teach our traditions in a spirit of the search for truth; we will gladly receive all immigrant teens who come to us and give them their first spiritual home in Israel; we will teach the language and culture of the Arabic-speaking People among whom we live and help build an Israel society based on pluralism and egalitarianism; we will open our doors to young Jews from the Diaspora and send our students to their communities; and all of this in the spirit of Rabbi Dr Leo Baeck."
A NEW VISION AND GOALS
I had studied educational philosophy, curriculum planning and educational models at Haifa University. But there was no course there in how to integrate the principles of democracy with the traditions of Judaism, nor was there an educational institution based on that wedding. Dr Elk had begun. It was now our task to develop the educational curriculum and atmosphere to internalize in our staff, students and community this vision for Israel.
These are the goals and tasks that we set before us in 1974 as we began a new period in the history of the Leo Baeck Educational Center:
To strive for excellence of the mind, body and moral compass in all aspects of our Center's life;
To maintain the highest standards of employment and build a culture of sharing of tasks;
To have absolute equality between males and females in student recruitment, in hiring, salaries, benefits and professional advancement;
To encourage our staff and students to continue their general and professional education with lifelong learning;
To prepare all students to read critically and write intelligently as tools for a satisfying and enriched life;
To educate students to research and to analyze with the goal of opening new vistas in their discipline;
To see each student as unique and to guide their development toward a healthy and positive attitude toward life;
To bind the generations together in a learning and sharing community of joy, hope and optimism;
To teach the philosophy, traditions and world view of all streams of 20th Century Judaism with an emphasis on Liberal, Progressive and Reform Jewish principles;
To interpret Judaism in the light of humanistic, democratic and universalistic principles;
To develop Israeli Jewish traditions based on historic Judaism and on the modes and mores of modern Israeli life;
To teach Bible, Rabbinics and Jewish Thought through the ages with the goal of helping each teacher and student to build their own Jewish identity;
To teach the value of equality of all Israeli citizens and residents in spite of differences, including our Arabic-speaking neighbors and all Jewish ethnic groups;
To challenge teachers and students to constantly increase their knowledge of the exact and social sciences, the humanities and the arts;
To strive for love of Israel, including a critical evaluation of its social, political, cultural and economic progress;
To build a synagogue in the Center which will help to develop a life of the spirit and based on voluntary membership and participation with no religious coercion;
To accept with love all new immigrants who come to live and study with us and to make their first home in Israel welcoming and productive;
To teach Arabic language and culture and strive for acceptance of Arabs and especially those living in our community;
To welcome people of other lands and cultures to our Center, especially Progressive Jewish Youth, and to offer them educational programs;
To send our students and staff on programs of exchange in order to expose them to other peoples, their cultures and ways of life;
To encourage students, teachers and parents to take an active role in determining the rules of behavior in the Center in order to develop a multi-generational covenant of felicitous human relationships with a culture of Tikkun, repair, rather than punishment for non-acceptance;
To build a community of all residents in the vicinity of our Center, linking people of difference together, young and old, men and women, wealthy and poor, Ashkenazi and Sephardi, Jews and non-Jews, children of all levels of intelligence and spirituality;
To strive for social justice within the community and to create the conditions for it in the neighborhoods around the Center;
To challenge all in the Leo Baeck family to volunteer their talents, interests and material means for the constant betterment of the community and its residents;
To develop in the Center a financial and management culture which is open, transparent and honest in order to encourage trust among all segments of the public;
To work closely with the Board of Directors on pedogogic, administrative and economic issues in order to insure that the Center will always maintain the highest academic and community standards, and to establish partnerships of local and national government, corporations, foundations and individuals to sponsor and to support the programs and people of the Center.
So, colleagues this is what I have been doing for the last 52 years. Come visit.
Imagine what Israel would be like today if we had been able to fulfill Dr Elk's charge to that first Movement Conference 50 years ago by having 20 Leo Baeck Education Centers throughout the country. But Eem Nir'tzeh Ein Zo Agadah, if the leaders of our Movement have the will, it still need not be a fantasy.