For over 50 years, Dr. Eugene Borowitz taught rabbinic students how to think. He was intimidating and compassionate, rigorous and a softy, a large presence and a quiet listener. But most of all, Rabbi Borowitz had the uncanny ability to translate the complex thoughts of Judaism’s philosophers and theologians into understandable English. He was our age’s consummate teacher of modern Jewish thought. I remember him asking a student’s ideas on a particular passage. The poor student began his answer: “Dr. Borowitz, I feel…” Slamming his hand onto the table, our teacher, with a frightful glare and in a stern voice intoned: “Young man, I don’t care what you feel. I care what you think!” Point memorably made.
My favorite of Eugene Borowitz’s books remains Choices in Modern Jewish Thought: A Partisan Guide. My favorite chapter beautifully captures how God lives within precious relationships in the thinking of Martin Buber. Buber, who was born in Vienna and died in Jerusalem at the age of 87 in 1965, found God in the glue that binds people in our connectedness to one another. He coined these connections I-Thou relationships.
Reading Buber for me is like reading esoteric poetry; Borowitz became my translator and helped bring this idea (along with so many others) to life within me. Not the God above and not the God within, but the God between. And that’s precisely what I sense at TRT. Over and over, in so many connections that you share with one another, the TRT family finds God in the sacred way you connect with one another.
Assuming all goes well in our current direction with Temple Shaari Emeth, Temple Rodeph Torah will bring far more than members to a new home. Temple Rodeph Torah will bring dozens and dozens of sacred relationships built and established over years and, in some cases, generations. These relationships, along with our Torah scrolls, will all find a new home.
As your rabbi, I find myself caring both how you think and how you feel. The classroom helps teachers to narrow in on a meaningful curriculum with a clear focus. As we all know, life outside the classroom enjoys variables galore. I like to think that the great privilege of studying with one of our generation’s great teachers, Eugene Borowitz, has helped us all learn how to better cherish the sacred connections we find between us.
Rabbi Marc L. Disick