Former pulpit rabbi will speak about Italian Jewry, ultra-Orthodox in Israel this weekend
Rabbi Leigh Lerner, who was Mount Zion’s senior rabbi from 1971-1989, will return to St. Paul and speak at two events, Nov. 17 and 19.
On Friday, Nov. 17, following Shabbat Services (approximately 8:30 p.m.), Rabbi Lerner will speak about “The Jews of Italy: A Guided Tour.”
More than two millennia old with its own unique Jewish rite and unusual, elegant synagogues, the Italian Jewish community numbers a mere 30,000 souls, yet took an active role in the unification of the country and has contributed two prime ministers.
Today Italy counts four and a half Reform congregations. Rabbi Lerner is planning his sixth winter in Italy, contributing his help as a visiting rabbi to Reform congregations in Florence, Rome and Milan. He travels extensively, meeting Italian Jews and hearing their remarkable stories, even as he teaches classes and leads services in Italian. He’ll share with us his experiences and the story of Jewish Italy in a fully illustrated talk.
On Sunday, Nov. 19 at 10 a.m., Rabbi Lerner will deliver an illustrated introduction to Israeli ultra-Orthodoxy: “Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox and Us: What Today’s American Jews Need to Know.” How did the ultra-Orthodoxy arise as a power in Israel? What are its goals? Who leads its groups? Why is ultra-Orthodoxy a threat to the Israel we know and love?
In explaining ultra-Orthodoxy to the congregation, Rabbi Lerner will also share why he wrote The Mossad Messiah and briefly give us insight into his novel. Rabbi Lerner made extensive research into Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community and what their growing presence means for Israel and for all Jews. In addition, he spent his 2012 sabbatical in Jerusalem helping the Israel Religious Action Center’s program of “Freedom Rides,” to integrate Jerusalem buses, assuring women’s right to sit in the front of the bus.
Rabbi Lerner is rabbi emeritus of Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom, Montreal. He is also visiting rabbi at Shir Hadash Firenze and teacher of conversion classes at Beth Hillel Roma.
Both events will take place at Mount Zion Temple, 1300 Summit Ave., St. Paul.
— Mount Zion Temple