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Thursday, July 31, 2014

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Rabbis to pay tribute to David Hartman

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Rabbi David Hartman

Eight Toronto rabbis will offer a taste of what they learned from Rabbi David Hartman at a March 11 event at Beth Tzedec Congregation to commemorate Rabbi Hartman’s shloshim.

The founder of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, Rabbi Hartman died Feb. 10 after a long illness. He was 81.

A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Rabbi Hartman led Montreal’s Congregation Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem from 1960 until he made aliyah in 1971. In addition to his work at the institute, which he named in memory of his father, Rabbi Hartman was a professor of Jewish thought at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for more than 20 years.

In a sermon following Rabbi Hartman’s death, Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl, organizer of the evening and Beth Tzedec’s senior rabbi, spoke of Rabbi Hartman’s “personal passion and intellectual vigour.”

He also said that, in recent years, Rabbi Hartman – who was ordained at Yeshiva University, which is modern Orthodox – became “more pointed in his criticism of the exclusionary Orthodox and an articulate advocate for moderate religious innovation, particularly in relationship to women in Judaism… In seminars and lectures one could feel David’s pain that his ideas had not gained a sufficient foothold in Orthodoxy.” 

Rabbi Hartman was involved in “serious and sustained dialogue” with Diaspora Jewish leaders, Israeli politicians and army commanders seeking ethical guidance, as well as high school students, Rabbi Frydman-Kohl added in his sermon.

Rabbi Hartman’s former students who are taking part in the event at Beth Tzedec include rabbis Frydman-Kohl, Martin Berman, Edward Elkin, Elyse Goldstein, Howard Morrison, John Moscowitz, Yossi Sapirman, and Shalom Schachter.

Rabbi Frydman-Kohl told The CJN that all the presenters either studied at the Hartman Institute or had a longstanding relationship with Rabbi Hartman. Their presentations will be limited to between 4 and 5 minutes each.

The event, which starts at 8 p.m., is called Rabbi David Hartman: Torah in Tribute and Memory.  Topics include “Can Halachah be immoral?” (Rabbi Berman), “Pushing the Halachic envelope for women” (Rabbi Goldstein), and “Klal Yisrael: Religious pluralism and conversion” (Rabbi Morrison).

Rabbi Frydman-Kohl said the evening will reflect “the many different facets” of Rabbi Hartman’s thoughts, and offer insight into a scholar who “had such an influence on Jewish life in the Diaspora and Israel.”

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