Rabbi Stahl Gives Thought-Provoking Lecture at HUC-JIR
Rabbi Samuel M. Stahl, rabbi emeritus of Temple Beth-El in San Antonio Texas
gave a lecture at Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR)
on Wednesday, February 11, 2004. His lecture entitled, “Do Jews Still
Consider Themselves the Chosen People?” was part of the 2003-2004 Food
for Thought Luncheon Lecture Series at HUC-JIR.
Rather than attempt to answer the question of whether Jews consider themselves
the chosen people, Rabbi Stahl asked members of the audience how they felt.
The room was divided with half raising their hands for yes and half for no.
What made Rabbi Stahl’s lecture so interesting was that he did not pretend
to have all the answers. Instead, he raised several specific questions. Some
included, “Did God choose the Jews, or did the Jews choose God?”
“Why would God work with a particular group of people instead of all humanity?”
and “What will the world look like when Jews make nonbelievers, believers?”
To try and shed some light into these questions, Rabbi Stahl gave many different
accounts from theological scholars and reference books.
At the end of the lecture the audience asked several questions. At this point,
Stahl was ready to give some possible answers. According to Stahl, God chose
Jews to convince people to believe in him because they hold a high standard
of morals; therefore, Jewish people can be a vessel to others on how to live
ethical lives. Stahl emphasized that while Jews are not perfect, they are the
people who are best suited to teach behavioral values. Stahl left Jews in the
room feeling as though they have a mission to be like the honor students in
high school. Although these students are respected, they are also resented for
their wealth of knowledge and power. While some Jews may endure prejudice for
who they are and what they know, it is up to them to pass on their wisdom to
The Food for Thought Luncheon Lecture series at HUC-JIR is an open invitation
to visit the campus at Mayerson Hall, enjoy a hot lunch, and listen to lectures
by various speakers for only $8. The upcoming lecture by Dr. Eva Frojmovic,
“Pride and Polemics: Exploring the Self-Image of Medieval Jews Through
Their Illuminated Manuscripts,” will be given at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday,
Founded in Cincinnati in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
is the oldest institution of higher Jewish education in the Western Hemisphere
and the academic and professional leadership development center of the Reform
Movement. The College-Institute trains rabbis, cantors, religious school educators,
Jewish communal workers, and scholars of all faiths at its four campuses in
Cincinnati, New York, Los Angeles, and Jerusalem.
For any additional information on this lecture or how to reserve seats for
upcoming lectures, call Marcia Cruse, (513) 221-1875 ext. 353.