In early April, as students noticed the greening grass and new buds on the trees, Chaplain Bill Ferguson looked ahead to the Passover and Easter holidays and wanted to ask students to reflect on the existential notion of having faith in a higher power.
He invited Rabbi Alison Adler, of nearby Temple B'nai Abraham, to address the packed house of students and faculty members in Landmark's Black Box Theater, about maintaining one's faith despite experiencing loss, illness, or another tragedy.
Rabbi Adler brought along a Torah, the holiest document for the Jews, containing the five books of Moses, also known as the Old Testament. She explained how sacred each Torah is—how even today, each one is made in the ancient tradition with "paper" made from the hide of a kosher animal, and text hand lettered by a special scribe. She described that in spite of experiencing the horrors of the Holocaust, many Jews were able to remarkably maintain their faith in a higher power and that the Torah was a symbol of that faith. Students had a chance to study the scroll close up and asked many questions of the Rabbi.
Toward the end of the program, Rabbi Adler and Chaplain Ferguson shared a video produced by well-known Hasidic filmmaker, Menachem Daum, sharing the story of his father who came to America as the sole survivor of a family who perished in the Holocaust. In the film, Daum addresses the struggle to understand his father's commitment to his faith after all that he has lost. Watch the video.
Students had a chance to process the weight of the film and ask questions. Many agreed that maintaining some sort of belief system helps heal—even wounds as painful as those suffered during the Holocaust.