Parashat Noah

Noah in His Generation

Noah responded to his community as he experienced it.

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Provided by the Jewish Outreach Institute, an organization dedicated to creating a more open and welcoming Judaism.

jewish outreach institute"Noah was a righteous man in his generation" (Gen. 6:9). So says the text. And the Rabbis debate whether Noah would have been considered righteous in other generations as well, or was his accolade reserved for the tumultuous generation in which he lived. I wonder how Noah would react to the notion of an inclusive Jewish community. Would his righteousness shine forth or would it be eclipsed by those who would rather that the community limit itself to the minority who would cling to its core?

What seems most relevant is that he spoke from the midst of his generation. He did not claim to speak for any time but his own. He could only deal with the situation of humanity as he experienced it, not in the way he wished it to be.

Such is the case with those of us who seek to create a more inclusive Jewish community, one that is welcoming of those on the periphery. We do not speak from the midst of the shtetl of our grandparents nor from the immigrant neighborhoods of our parents. Rather we look boldly at the current Jewish community--for this is our generation--and respond.

Noah emerged from the flood in order to recreate the world. We must do the same.

Rabbi Kerry M. Olitzky

Rabbi Kerry M. Olitzky is executive director of the Jewish Outreach Institute and the author of numerous books about Jewish spirituality.