The DCA’s Jerusalem Think Tank, a forum of Jewish thinkers, educators and leaders, explores a wide range of Jewish topics. Think Tank Fellows present issues from their own lives – matters they struggle with every day – with the hope that exploring uncharted realms of Judaism in these challenging sessions will further invigorate authentic religious living.
Keep Your Thinking Cap On!
Under the guidance of Rabbi Cardozo, the DCA’s Jerusalem Think Tank (TT), a forum of Jewish thinkers, educators and leaders, continues to explore every possible Jewish topic under the sun. Think Tank Fellows present issues from their own lives – matters they struggle with every day – with the hope that exploring uncharted realms of Judaism in these challenging sessions will further invigorate authentic religious living.
“For me, the Think Tank is a source of joy, revelation and comfort,” commented Yael Valier, a Think Tank Fellow. “I’ve discovered that traditional Judaism is broader than it is as presented in other forums, and that it is robust enough to tolerate – and even be enriched by – many different points of view about God, Halacha and other religious philosophies.”
This year’s Think Tank began with a (brain) storm as the Fellows, which include five newcomers, engaged in discussion about what they believed to be the critical religious issues confronting them and today’s religious community. Here is a sampling of issues suggested: the role of leisure culture in Judaism; balancing career, study and family in the Jewish tradition; Is autonomy a value within Judaism?; The Chosen People- a veneer for racism? Chauvinist nationalism?
The second TT session was a real treat; Rabbi Cardozo’s first presentation to the Fellows this year. His topic, the Future of Halacha, was sure to stir up much discussion. “The beauty of Halacha is that it makes a problem out of every solution; it complicates life for the sake of being constantly aware of the presence of God,” noted Rabbi Cardozo. ”Only when a matter becomes an “issue” do we take notice and give it its deserved attention. Even the most trivial deed or thought is highly significant in the divine realm.”
Rabbi Cardozo’s comments on the question of when to be lenient or strict also caused fierce debate. “On one hand the desire to be lenient to make Judaism more appealing, and on the other hand the hyper-codification of Halacha, both misrepresent Halacha’s role. In both approaches God is either left out of the picture, or forgotten amid the overabundant details. The future of Halacha will depend on rectifying this problem. God must be at the center of its concern.”
Rabbi Cardozo’s presentations are a fundamental component to the DCA Think Tank, the Halacha Lab, whereby new methods of engagement with Halacha will be tested under the critical eye of the Think Tank Fellows before exposure to a broader audience. Throughout the year others will be invited to respond to Rabbi Cardozo’s philosophy and present their own subjects of interest.