- Thursday | September 2, 2021
- 11:30 am
Thursday, September 2 11:30 a.m./ IF NOT HIGHER, a dramatic script adapted from I.L. Peretz’s story with the same title. RABBI FRED DAVIDOW THE POWER OF STORIES TO ENGAGE OUR EMOTIONS AND TO INSPIRE OUR CONDUCT In modern parlance we can call stories “page-turners” because they catch the attention of listeners, arouse curiosity and engage the emotions of the listeners. A set of abstract ideas and a code of laws may very well express concepts and rules with which we wholly agree but we are unlikely to live by them just because they are written down. A Hasidic proverb says, “Give people a fact and you enlighten their minds; tell them a story and you touch their souls.” If any conduct of ours is inspired by something we learn in a story, then that story is true for us. In this program Rabbi Davidow will present a dramatic script adapted from the short story “If Not Higher” by Isaac Leib Peretz (1852-1915) Peretz was a compassionate man who saw great moral beauty in the lives of the poor and pious Jews of Eastern Europe. He gathered raw material for his stories by visiting the shtetlach Poland. Like every good story, “If Not Higher” has conflict, suspense and a satisfying resolution. But this is much more than a good story set at the time of the Days of Awe. It is an ageless story. It engages our hearts; it helps us to find our own way in life. If we American Jews were to set ourselves the task of compiling a selection of Jewish writings for a new anthology of Sacred Scripture, I would nominate “If Not Higher” for inclusion. That’s how much I believe in the power of this story to stir our spirits and to move us to act with chesed, lovingkindnesss. Rabbi Fred Davidow, ordained at Hebrew Union College in 1973, had an active career spanning 45 years as a congregational rabbi and chaplain in Miami, Atlanta and Philadelphia. He likes to think of himself as a “young old man,” as he keeps his mind fresh learning, teaching and writing. He has presented a number of programs on storytelling at synagogues and for lifelong learning groups. The rabbi takes great pleasure in leading Dvar Torah sessions at Adath Jeshurun and in Center City in rotation with other rabbis under the coordination of Rabbi Gary Charlestein. His Divrei Torah appear in the Jewish Exponent. In 2018 Rabbi Davidow completed a book Guardians of the City: Stories for Shaping Moral Character, Twenty Dramatic Scripts Adapted from Jewish Lore. Still sheltering-inplace, he has completed writing a memoir about growing up Jewish in Mississippi in the 1950’s. Currently his work-inprogress is a memoir about his years in the rabbinate.
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