Rabbi Steven Bayar, rabbi emeritus of Congregation B’nai Israel in Millburn, led a thought-provoking three-part Our Jewish World series in April, via Zoom, titled “The Pandemic and Politics: How are we changed? How are we the same?” The three presentations were held on Thursdays, April 8, 15 and 22, all beginning at 12:30 p.m. Our Jewish World is coordinated by Ilene Dorf Manahan and Melanie Levitan.
Rabbi Bayar pointed out, “Life has certainly changed for us this past year. Between the pandemic and the divisive politics we have witnessed drastic changes in our environment and culture. Are these changes permanent, temporary or somewhere in between. In these sessions we will explore where we were, where we are and where we may be going in our relations with Israel, our Judaism and our future.”
The rabbi’s specific topics for each session were:
- April 8: “The Pandemic, the Politics and the Middle East/Israel”
- April 15: “The Pandemic, the Politics and the Jewish Community”
- April 22: “The Pandemic, the Politics and Jewish Observance”
Rabbi Bayar was ordained by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and served pulpits in Greenbelt, Maryland and Spring Valley, New York before coming to B’nai Israel Congregation in Millburn in 1989. He is the co-author, with Francine Hirschman, of “Teens & Trust: Building Bridges in Jewish Education” (Torah Aura Publications); with Ilene Strauss, of “Rachel & Mischa” (KarBen) and with Naomi Eisenberger, of “You Shall Teach Them Diligently to Your Children: Transmitting Jewish Values from Generation to Generation.” He was the lead author of the ZIV/Giraffe Curriculum (Righteous Person’s Foundation) and as co-founder of Ikkar Publishing has written more than 40 curricula, ranging from the “Philosophy of Moshe Chaim Luzzatto” to “Teaching Jewish Theology through Science Fiction and Fantasy.”
He is a member of the Rabbinical Assembly and Rabbis Without Borders, and has trained as a hospice chaplain, a Wise Aging facilitator and served as a trainer for #GamAni (the Jewish #MeToo Movement) for creating safe workspaces. He proudly teaches at the Golda Och Academy in West Orange. He is also the director of JSURGE (jsurge.org).