On April 28, we will gather in the Lainof Auditorium to host the Northern Virginia Jewish Theological Seminary dinner. It is the first major community event to be held in our new building, and its cause is most appropriate. You don't need to be told about the impact JTS has had on our congregation and its leadership. From formal rabbinic training to the annual rabbi camp, I continue to benefit from the Seminary's well of knowledge and guidance. From training in milah (circumcision) to kashrut, our lay people benefit from the Seminary's programs. And the publications, public advocacy and scholars which travel from 3080 Broadway enrich our lives and raise the banner of Conservative Judaism high and visibly.
Among the four honorees at this year's dinner is our own Larry Shuman, a long-time supporter of JTS and a graduate of the Brit Kodesh program. Not only has he learned new skills at the Seminary, he has enhanced his own living of Jewish life. No one better exemplifies what JTS can do to and through an individual.
Please plan to attend the dinner.
But, truth be told, the JTS dinner is not the first community gathering in the Lainof Auditorium. Last month, 40 students and members of their families from the Virginia Theological Seminary attended a demonstration seder I conducted. Most of them are students in the course in Judaism which I teach at VTS, the Episcopal seminary from which Seminary Road takes its name.
The interest in Judaism among the students is exceptional. To a person, they see the import of understanding Judaism not only as a reflection of Christian origins but as a living faith. My course, an elective, is one of the most heavily enrolled classes at the Seminary. My students are enthralled with observances from Shabbat to tallit to seder to the study of Talmud, and have discussed with me ways of incorporating those observances into their lives. (And that's a whole 'nother story!)
The commitment of VTS to prepare their students for the depth and breadth of their ministry is exceptional. In turn, the impact their piety and devotion have on their instructor can be felt by me internally and by you as it integrates into my spiritual life. (Hey, don't worry -- it's kosher.)
Perhaps some day I will be able to bring together students from JTS and students from VTS. In the meantime, even without direct contact, I can attest to the fact that with consonance of purpose, these two seminaries are producing leaders who will see us through the best of times and the worst of times.