Rabbi Steven Bayar, spiritual leader of Congregation B’nai Israel in Millburn, led three fascinating free talks in our Section’s Our Jewish World series at noon on Nov. 27, Dec. 4 and Dec. 11, all at the Morris County Library, 30 E. Hanover Ave., in Whippany. Our Jewish World is coordinated by Ilene Dorf Manahan and Melanie Levitan.
His first talk, on Nov. 27, was titled “Modern Issues in American Islam.” He pointed out, “We tend to think of Islam as a monolithic homogeneous religious tradition. Or we may think of Islam as being divided by Shiate or Sunni only. Islamic tradition is also shaped by the country inhabited. In this session we will talk about the unique features and challenges found by Muslims in the United States; comparing and contrasting the Islamic experience in America with those of other traditions.”
Rabbi Bayar’s second talk, on Dec. 4, called “Modern Issues in American Judaism,” focused on a number of issues, faced by the Jewish community in the United States, in addition to assimilation and intermarriage. “These are only two key issues, and, while important, they may be overshadowed by the challenges of millennials and modern politics,” the seminar leader said. “In this session we will talk about what we are facing now and how it will affect the next two decades of Judaism.”
For his third talk, on Dec. 11, Rabbi Bayar addressed “How the Midterm Elections Will Affect American-Israel Relations.” Noting that, by that time, it will have been more than a month since the midterms, he pointed out that “We will have had time to internalize the changes in American policy in the Middle East (if any) that will take place due to the midterm elections.”
Rabbi Bayar who was ordained at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, served in congregations in Maryland and New York state before coming to Congregation B’nai Israel in 1989. He is the author of “Teens & Trust: Building Bridges in Jewish Education,” with Francine Hirschman (Torah Aura), and “And You Shall Teach Them Diligently to Your Children: Transmitting Jewish Values from Generation to Generation,” with Naomi Eisenberger (Town House Press). He has served as a trainer for GamAni (Jewish MeToo movement) for “Creating Safe Spaces” and he is a chaplain for the Millburn Police Department.