Early this fall, Ann and I delivered Max to his college campus and visited the Hillel facility there. They put on a warm welcome for students and parents alike, sharing with us a project originated by the Fiedler Hillel at Northwestern University and promoted the Hillel Schusterman International Center, the Samuel Bronfman Foundation and the Jewish Outreach Institute. (Hey – credit where credit is due, you know?)
The project is called “askbigquestions.com” and you can visit the web site that is now home to this widespread initiative. It gives students on university campuses, regardless of their religious identities or lack thereof, to engage some of the essential questions of life. College campuses are great places to challenge presumptions and to examine directions, but the students (and faculties) who populate those campuses are not the only ones who struggle with the Big Questions of life.
The High Holy Days are just barely behind us, but I have an assignment foryou for the High Holy Days yet to come. Each month I will publish in this column a “big question” that is being discussed on college campuses. I invite you to write an answer. At the end of this column, you will find this month’s question, the restrictions on length of response (very strict!) and the email address to which you may send your response. (You may also mail it to me at the office.) I will select responses for publication in our reflection book next Tishrei. Though your response must be signed (no anonymous responses will be accepted), your name will not appear in the reflection book unless you specifically request it, and I will hold your identity in confidence.
(I will happily discuss with you privately the reason for all these rules and regs!)
Part of the skills we rabbis develop is the ability to link any two topics homiletically. But it is a no-brainer to connect the initiation of this opportunity with the recent holiday of Thanksgiving. Like the High Holy Days, Thanksgiving is a time for taking stock of our lives. While Yom Kippur asks us to look at our deficits and resolve to do better, Thanksgiving asks us to look at\ our blessings and resolve to do more with them. This exchange of ideas and convictions among the members of our community will, I hope, provoke the kinds of conversations that are important all year long among family members and peers. When the High Holy Days come along next year, the experience for each of you will be deepened.
Many thanks to all of the idea-makers and grant-makers for this project. I wish you good thinking!
THIS MONTH’S BIG QUESTION
for the 5770/2009 High Holy Day Reflection Booklet
Please send your answers to this address:
Answers should be 250 words or less. Please sign your name – it will
not be published unless you request otherwise. Along with your name,
indicate the number of the question you are answering.
#1 What’s the best advice you have ever received?