Beth Israel brings Rabbi Brad Artson

By Rav Nadav Caine, Beth Israel Congregation

I couldn’t be more excited about Beth Israel’s Rosenberg Scholar in Residence Weekend this coming April 3–5. Our scholar is my mentor, Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, and promises to be a weekend of learning and stimulating discussion.

Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson

Rabbi Dr. Artson holds the Abner and Roslyn Goldstine Dean’s Chair of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies and is Vice President of American Jewish University in Los Angeles. He is a prominent figure in the world of Jewish thought, spiritual leadership, ethics and morality, special needs inclusion, LGBTQ ordination and marriage, environmental ethics, and peace with justice for Israel and the Middle East.

I first encountered Rabbi Artson when I was in my 20s and I flew to Camp Ramah in Ojai, California, for a convention of COEJL, the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life. Though the speakers were fine, the entire group came to full attention when Rabbi Artson began to speak. Everything he said combined his lived, personal experience with the urgency of the present moment and the depths of Jewish tradition. From that moment on, I had a model of what the litmus test of any rabbinic presentation should be: those three combined. To this day, I try to make sure every one of my sermons on some level applies Torah to the issues of the present moment, and my goal is that if anyone that day has wandered into a synagogue for the first time in years, they would feel they experienced something compelling.

Over a decade later, I chose the Ziegler Rabbinical School because there was no question that I wanted to learn how to be a rabbi from Rabbi Artson. The care, respect, and personal example he continually showed me during those years are debts I can never fully repay.

Rabbi Artson’s Torah extends through many dimensions of our lives. The experiences of his autistic son, Jacob, and his own as his father, figure prominently in his teachings and in the urgency of inclusion in our institutions. Like me, his years of studying theology led him to the conclusion that Process Theology stands heads above any alternative, with its compelling vision of science and religion as fully integrated, and equally urgent in our personal lives as in our ecological lives.

In its essence, the vision of our way of seeing God is much more akin to the way people talk about “their relationship with the Universe.” The way the Universe has invited life, cultivated symbiotic (“covenantal”) connections, and provided humans a way of orienting within time, history, and moments of true creation, redemption, and revelation, is a game changer for those who tend to think science confirms a simple-minded Darwinian orientation. His book God of Becoming and Relationship: The Dynamic Nature of Process Theology isa succinctand eloquent primer. His book Gift of Soul, Gift of Wisdom is my foundation when teaching Madrichim. I don’t think I’ve met a Jewish educator who doesn’t have copies of his Bedside Torah and his Everyday Torah by their desk or bedside; and his contributions to I Have Some Questions About God serve as profound voices in this book to help children and parents form their own reflections and conversations about God. It is a book that is used year after year at Hebrew Day School. I’m excited to have Rabbi Artson lead a discussion for parents during Beth Israel Religious School on the Sunday morning of his visit, to which all are invited.

More recently, his teachings have focused on his experiences fighting cancer, and on the events following October 7.

So please, mark your calendars to attend Rabbi Artson’s presentations during the weekend of April 3 through 5 at Beth Israel as our guest in the honored role of Rosenberg Scholar. The individual sessions are listed on our website at bethisrael-aa.org.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *