Two Modern Orthodox Moments in Houston – Rabbi Barry Gelman

November 18, 2012

Recently I was involved in two great Modern Orthodox events.

Two weeks ago the American Jewish Committee honored the four senior Rabbi Emeritus of the Houston Jewish community, Rabbi Joseph Radinsky (Orthodox ), Rabbi Roy Walter (Reform), Rabbi Jack Segal (Conservative) and Rabbi  Samuel Karff (Reform).

I had the privilege to pay tribute to Rabbi Radinsky as the current Rabbi of each synagogue was asked to speak in honor of their emeritus.

These four Rabbis were honored by the Houston Jewish community for their decades of service.

People often talk about how well the synagogues of the various denomination work with each other and how all of the denominational rabbis respect each other and work well together in Houston. It is true and the reason is it is true is because the four honorees worked very hard on it. They all respected each other and valued what each was doing for the sake of the Jewish community.

I have been to many community dinners, but this one was the most meaningful of them all. The large turnout, the outpouring of love and the deep respect expressed at the dinner was overwhelming.

I consider it a great Modern Orthodox moment as, for me, it served as a vindication of the policy of Modern Orthodox rabbis to work with Rabbis of all denominations and to recognize that non-orthodox institutions are our partners is building and strengthening Jewish life.

The other great Modern Orthodox moment was the show I just returned from. Tonight the Houston Jewish  community was treated to Musicals  and The Bible. Rav Gal Ben Meir, a very talented musician and singer who is doing shlichut in our community as a teacher, is also a lover of Broadway musicals.

Over the last year, Rav Gal, as he is known, has been producing  the show that teacher Jewish themes using some of the best known songs from popular Broadway shows.

Tonights show reviewed 11 key moments in Jewish history through the lens of songs form The Lion King, Wicked, Billy Elliot, Phantom of The Opera, Les Miserables, Oliver and others.

The show was a dream come true for Rav Gal. The narration, done by Rav Gal as well, made it clear that for years Rav Gal suppressed his desire to perform these types of songs, being told that show business, with it’s focus on fame and fortune was diametrically opposed to the inner and contemplative life of a pious Jew.

Tonight, Rav Gal proved that aspects of popular culture could be used to teach important Jewish ideas and bring people a greater appreciation of their faith. It also proved to Rav Gal that he could achieve his dream and reminded al of those present that we should reach for the stars and not let anyone crush our dreams.

Kol Hakavod Rav Gal and thank you!