It takes a special person to join the clergy of any religion. It is more than leading prayers and being the layperson at various stage of life events. That person has to be able to speak of that religion and its tenets in a way that connects to everyone, regardless of any specific faiths.
I had the pleasure of seeing him speak in person a few years ago. It was nothing short of inspiring. It was just before the High Holidays. Those who have attended High Holidays services can attest that as important as those days are, they are quite frankly, difficult and not exactly fun. But they shouldn’t be fun.
Rabbi Sacks was able to explain in very simple terms the emotional and psychological importance of those days. I’ve been attending High Holiday services since I was very young. But that was the first time I was truly able to understand the meaning of the High Holidays.
He recently was a guest on the Unorthodox podcast. Though he was there to publicize his latest book, he also spoke about current events and how morality is as important as it ever was.
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks and Megan Phelps-Roper come from two different worlds. Rabbi Sacks is the former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth, a politician and a respected speaker. Megan Phelps-Roper was raised in the Westboro Baptist Church. The granddaughter of the head of the church, Megan and her sister made the decision to leave their home and their church as adults.
I watched both of their Ted Talks speeches a few minutes ago. Both were illuminating and potentially life changing.
While both Rabbi Sacks and Megan spoke of different things, the conclusion that they came to separately is that we need to not only think of others, but extend our hands in friendship to those who are different. If we stay only in our communities with people who think and believe as we do, not only will we not grow, but our world will not become to better place we say that we want it to be.
The reality is that no person is an island. There are millions of people around us and until we truly work together a human beings, the better place that we say we want to be at will only continue to be a pipe dream.