“Rabbi Genende describes himself in the book’s introduction as a representative of Modern Orthodoxy,” Mark writes. “Acknowledging that the term is imprecise, he describes modern orthodoxy as ‘a synthesis of the traditional and the contemporary’, a ‘balance between continuity and change’”.
To be Jewish, writes Rabbi Ralph, is about being different, to be a people with a purpose and to impart a message of the dignity of all human beings, the imperative of justice, the necessity of love and compassion.
While all the issues explored in the book are important, Mark says he was particularly interested to gain a deeper understanding of his perspectives on Israel and on constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians – both passionate interests for Mark.
“On constitutional recognition of our First Peoples, Rabbi Ralph writes that the Uluru Statement from the Heart speaks directly to his ‘Jewish heart’ because ‘Judaism is a religion of law, but it is also a faith of the heart. It’s a space where we, the people of a long dream, meet the people of the enduring dreamtime’.”
Mark says that although he doesn’t agree with all of the Rabbi’s views, he was touched by his reflections on a trip he had made to Jerusalem with a group of Melbourne-based Jews, Christians and Muslims.
“There were fractious and difficult moments on the trip, including a heated discussion on the increasingly popular tactic of comparing Israel’s governance over the West Bank with apartheid South Africa. But like so much in this book, the Rabbi’s essential take-out is positive: ‘We represent the possibility that the solution – or at least part of it – will be found not in politics but in religion, in the genuine seekers of faith in each of our magnificent monotheistic movements.’”
To read Mark’s book review, click here.
Living in an Upside Down World is published by Retrospect. For information on where to purchase, click here.
Pictured above: Mark Leibler with Rabbi Ralph Genende and Leah Justin.