This week, the Xaverian community is celebrating Awareness and Advocacy Week. The following is senior Alex Kradin’s reflection on a religious diversity talk by Rabbi David Paskin. Rabbi David is an accomplished spiritual leader and an award-winning Jewish educator. For more than a decade, David has served as full-time Spiritual Leader of Temple Beth Abraham in Canton, Massachusetts.
Being a Jew and attending a Catholic school was not the easiest decision. However, I learned to embrace my Judaism. I went on various retreats and service experiences throughout my sophomore and junior year and continue to be an active member and leader in the Xaverian community. When I was helping plan diversity week with some fellow students I knew right away that I had a great idea for a speaker.
I suggested that my rabbi from my temple in Canton come speak for Xaverian’s religious diversity day. Having essentially grown up with the man I knew he’d be great. He is extremely down to earth and a mentor to me. In the days preceding his talk I began to get nervous, I did not want to take the blame for a talk that wasn’t good. Fortunately this was not the case as Rabbi David was well received by my classmates and the faculty that attended.
His talk impacted me a great deal; the moment I introduced him I knew it was going to be great, and the talk was unlike any awareness day I’ve had before. Rabbi David talked about the similarities and differences between the Catholic and Jewish faiths, but my favorite part was when it turned into a dialogue. About halfway through it became a question and answer session; the answer that struck most me was to the question, “do you have a strong connection to Israel?” Rabbi David answered yes, and talked about how he visits at least twice a year.
He told a compelling story of one visit to a hospital in northern Israel. When conflicting areas launch bombs at Israel an alarm goes off that is wired throughout the entire country. The bombs are so un-sophisticated that no one knows where they are going to land, hence the alarms. The hospital moved entire wards to the basement while David sat in the safe room watching, on video, the track of the bombs. One landed 200 meters away from the hospital and was felt throughout the building. I was inspired and I now hope to visit and do service in Israel.
Rabbi David delivered a stunning performance and ended with words that gave me the chills. “Learn a lot about your faith, and I mean a lot. And when you have learned, do one thing, challenge it!” I plan to live out the words of my Rabbi and am grateful to him for being a part of one of the most compelling awareness days I’ve ever had.