Interfaith Event Will Be Hosted by Baylor University's Center for Jewish Studies

Sept. 7, 2010

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"Chanting the Days of Awe," an interfaith gathering featuring Baylor University President Ken Starr and Rabbi Mordechai Rotem of Waco's Temple Rodef Sholom, will be hosted by Baylor's Center for Jewish Studies on Tuesday, Sept. 14.

The invitation-only event precedes Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the year for Jews. It completes the annual High Holy Days, or Days of Awe, that began with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Yom Kippur is observed with repentance, prayer and fasting.

"Judge Starr's participation at our High Holiday events continues a tradition of Baylor presidents attending functions at the Center for Jewish Studies," said Dr. Marc H. Ellis, director of Baylor's Center for Jewish Studies, University Professor of Jewish Studies and a professor of history.

"It also signals Judge Starr's affirmation of the importance of our center at Baylor and his belief that at a Christian university, dialogue and diversity are critical," Ellis said.

He said that among those who will attend are Baylor University Chaplain Burt Burleson; Dr. Bill Bellinger, chairman of Baylor's religion department; Dr. Larry Lyon, the dean of Baylor's graduate school; and Brad Toben, dean of the Baylor Law School.

Ellis said Starr and Rotem will speak. Rotem said he will focus on the themes of self-reflection, confession of transgressions, asking forgiveness, getting closer to God and making peace with people.

"I believe that learning about the different religious traditions and understanding them can bring about mutual respect, tolerance and better human relations," Rotem said. "We seek peace and pursue it as the Bible teaches so that we can live together in harmony."

This year, Yom Kippur will be observed from sundown Friday, Sept. 17, to sundown Saturday, Sept. 18.

Rotem, a native of Haifa, served as rabbi of Or Hadash-The Lyons Center for Progressive Judaism in Haifa from 1974 until August 2000. In 1980, he was the first Israeli to be ordained as a Reform rabbi in Israel by the Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem. He also served as the executive director of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism from 1981 to 1986 and has been at the forefront of the struggle in Israel for religious pluralism.

Cantorial soloist for the event will be composer-singer Toby Singer of New York City.

Contact: Terry Goodrich, Assistant Director of Media Communications, (254) 710-3321

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