By Jarrad Saffren for Washington Jewish Week
Rabbi Nissan Antine, 44, leads Beth Sholom Congregation and Talmud Torah in Potomac. He’s an Orthodox rabbi guiding an Orthodox synagogue. But Antine still likes to quote one of his former teachers, Rabbi Avi Weiss, the founder of the Open Orthodoxy movement, which calls for more flexibility and interpretation with regard to halachah.
“I’m an Orthodox rabbi,” Antine said. “But I’m not just a rabbi for Orthodox Jews.”
How do you make the connection between your Orthodox community and Jews from less traditional backgrounds who nonetheless come to you seeking religion?
One of the beautiful qualities of Orthodox Judaism is that our communities are built on being within walking distance of a synagogue. Families with strollers and children. People know each other. They know where they live. It creates strong communal bonds, which people are seeking out.
The problems of isolation were present before COVID and were getting worse. COVID moved them along. The answer to that is community. People coming to services. People celebrating a wedding or a bar or bat mitzvah. And people who are going through difficult things. Like if someone comes on Friday night during a shivah. It’s the kind of connection that can’t happen on Zoom.
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