Live Blogging: UMJC Rabbi’s Rereat

I am in Palm Springs, California. Out the back window of my hotel room is the San Jacinto mountain range. An 8,500′ peak rises, blocking the horizon. I may have the chance to take a tram up the mountain this afternoon. I’m told the temperature drops 20-30 degrees Fahrenheit.

Hopefully I will have wireless internet in the conference room here and be able to send a few live updates on our retreat.

For the moment, I thought I would share a few of my experiences arriving here.

First, I was “evangelized” on the last leg of my plane trip by a brainy, successful Canadian businessman who is an atheist and a devout fan of Christopher Hitchens. It was great. I am almost always up for good dialogue about God.

It started when I noted he had the new Apple Macbook Pro. I asked him a few questions about the changes in the Macbook Pro, since I will likely be getting one in the next year or so.

Then he asked, “What do you do?” Next thing you know, we’re talking about Christopher Hitchens and reasons not to believe in God. I could tell my new friend has not had the chance to talk to a person of faith who knows the issues. As I said to him, “In any complex issue, it is possible for both sides to make a lot of sense.”

The experience was a good one and you never know where you might make a new friend. I certainly didn’t know I would meet and talk to a Canadian businessman. I wonder if he needs a writer to work on any of his company’s projects. Hmmm . . .

Second, on the first leg of the flight, I was reading Jewish Living: A Guide to Contemporary Reform Practice by Mark Washofsky. It is a book I will be reviewing soon here at Messianic Jewish Musings.

Reform Judaism is starting to make a lot more sense to me. I know that sounds strange. Most outsiders from the Christian world looking in on the Jewish world would think Orthodox Judaism is the only authentic voice. I have been enjoying learning more about the Conservative and Reform ways of looking at things.

For instance, and we’ll discuss this in more depth soon, Reform notes that Judaism has always been open to change. Judaism does not have to follow the path Orthodox Judaism has chosen, the conserve every tradition and turn it into law.

While I certainly feel more conservative about things like the authority of God’s commands than Reform thinkers could agree with, still, I like their voice for change, adaptation, and even innovation.

Finally, we start our meetings today. This retreat is about Jewish-Christian intermarriage and Messianic Judaism. I will share a few interesting tidbits with you as the conference progresses.


About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
This entry was posted in Atheism, Christian, Half-Jewish, Interfaith, Judaism, Messianic Jewish, Travel Journal. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Live Blogging: UMJC Rabbi’s Rereat

  1. Derek

    Glad you are having a good conference with good weather and good debate.

    I look forward to your review Jewish Living: A Guide to Contemporary Reform Practice.

    I think you would really enjoy the Mishkan T’Filah: Reform Siddur. It has been a blessing to me.


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