Posted on Dec 17, 2019
Senior Rabbi, B’nai Torah Congregation, Boca Raton, Florida
The Rabbinical School ’82
For Rabbi David Steinhardt, social justice is one of the most powerful ways to inspire the next generation. “The future of Judaism demands that we translate the tradition’s values into a calling that resonates with young people” says Steinhardt, rabbi of B’nai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton, Florida, which has over 1,400 families.
Through a program called TLC: Tzedakah, Limud, and Chesed, the synagogue sponsors charitable and social justice initiatives, which include sheltering the homeless, volunteering with refugee children, visiting Jewish homes for the aged, attending to local hunger, running literacy programs, and responding to national and international crises. The program has over 250 participants and, remarkably, 75 percent are young adults with children. Though they are not traditional synagogue-goers, this group connects to the Jewish community through activism. As an added benefit, their work has brought B’nai Torah into close collaboration with local churches and mosques, building important bridges across the faiths.
“People yearn for purpose in their lives,” says Steinhardt, and he guides them in finding that meaning in Jewish texts. “When I teach Torah, I ask my students to consider not only what it means but what it obligates us to do. We have to take Judaism beyond the walls of the synagogue because Torah must be real and must be lived. Responsibility for others is how we receive holiness.”