A note from Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, our co-President:
Having just returned from a trip to Israel and Jordan with the most recent cohort in our Stand and See Fellowship, I had planned to share stories from the amazing journey shared with seminarians and recent ordainees in the Episcopal community around southern Ohio. And then, I was blessed to receive a note from one of our Fellows — a note which says it at least as well as I ever could — which truly highlights the double value proposition of the entire initiative: building deeper and more nuanced connection to Israel, both ancient and contemporary, and nurturing better religious leadership for America, especially when it comes to dealing with tough questions and polarizing issues. Here is what he wrote:
Now that the trip is over, I wanted to send you a quick note to say just how much I appreciated your efforts to make Stand & See possible. Visiting our many locations, hearing stories from diverse voices, engaging in conversations with each other during the evenings—there was something really special about this process that made it incredibly meaningful for me.
You’ve taken on quite a challenge in your work–drawing diverse faith groups into deeper conversation about the complexity of our shared religious roots and how our traditions connect us to an equally complex modern world—but on this pilgrimage I kept glimpsing the richer world that lies on the other side of that conversation. There’s a lot of work to be done in building these relationships, but I’m deeply thankful that you’re providing opportunities where this challenging work can begin.
Out of the two weeks we spent in Israel, it’s hard for me to pick just one moment that stands out as *the* most meaningful—but if I were forced to do so, I think the visit to the Temple Mount and the chance to pray at the Western Wall would be a likely choice. I’m continuing to contemplate what you said that day—how a space can be both 100% Jewish and 100% human. I think there’s something deeply powerful and hopeful in that vision.
So thanks once again. I’m a better Christian because of your faithful Jewish practice. What a great thing to be able to say. May we all continue to grow together.