Friday, 17 July 2009

The Quest for Authenticity

The Quest for Authenticity


‘I could revive the dead, but I have more difficulty reviving the living,’ said Reb Simhah Bunim


I’ve been reading The Quest for Authenticity by Michael Rosen. Rabbi Rosen, known to all as Micky was the creator of Yakar, first in London, then Jerusalem and most recently Tel Aviv. A huge personal inspiration he passed away recently, may his memory always be for a blessing.


The book tells the story of Reb Simchah Bunim and his successors, alive in the first half of the nineteenth century. Their watchword was a commitment to truth, integrity, spiritual honesty, no matter how prickly or discomforting it might be. Truth emerges in the book as a complex unsettling paradox, only a whisper away from away from heresy.


“Once Reb Bunim was crying and he said, ’Do you know why I am crying? Come and I will tell you an incident. When I was with the holy Reb Ephraim of Sedilkov he said that there is no wise man in the world except me and one other who, at just this moment has become an apostate.”


The relationship between a commitment to truth and heresy is one long-trodden at New London, indeed, that is precisely the dynamic that drove our founder rabbi and the treatment of him by the United Synagogue. But a commitment to truth cannot only be a commitment to the sorts of issues that made New London what it was, it also requires that we acknowledge the truth behind what we must become, and to do that we need to acknowledge that a Jewish future for this special community means we must commit to deepening our commitment to Jewish observance, learning and education. There is much to be done, but the first step is the choice of which path to choose to walk on. And I chose the path of questing for authenticity.


Shabbat shalom,


Rabbi Jeremy

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