Faith and Values Q&A profile of Rabbi Eli Kavon, Beth Ami Congregation, Boca Raton.
Meet another member of South Florida's many-sided faith community. This week we're talking with Rabbi Eli Kavon of Beth Ami Congregation, Boca Raton.
Q: You're writing a book?
A: Yes, on Menachem Ziemba, one of the last rabbis in the Warsaw Ghetto. He taught resistance based on halakha [Jewish religious law]. I want to build a post-Holocaust theology. It was a unique persecution and needs a new response.
Q: Why is that a job for you?
A: Any religion or ideal cannot ignore historical events. The ancient rabbis said the Jews went into exile [in Bible times] as a punishment. But Job in the Bible said suffering was not punishment. And sources in the Bible and the Talmud and Kaballah says that God suffers with the people.
Q: How would this apply to a regular Jew living in South Florida?
A: If your personal encounter with God is only within tradition, it won't lead to a connection with faith or God. And if your God doesn't answer the issues of the day, he's become irrelevant. He can't be meaningful.
Q: Do you have a hero?
A: I have many, but I really look up to Theodore Herzl [founder of modern Israel]. He wasn't religious, but he understood the importance of peoplehood.
Q: What's the most important thing you've ever learned?
A: In my father's words: "The basis of your life is to be a mensch [good person]. Everything else will follow."
— James D. Davis
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Rabbi Eli Kavon
Past job experience: Faculty member for Lifelong Learning Institute, Nova Southeastern University. Teacher of Jewish history, Central Agency for Jewish Education, Broward County. Essayist for Jerusalem Report and Jerusalem Post. Delivered paper during 2011 International Symposium at Nanjing University, China. wrote paper for Journal of Interdisciplinary Study of Monotheistic Religion at Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan.
Education: Degree in comparative religion and history, Columbia University; master's degree in Jewish studies, Spertus Institute, Chicago; ordination, Rabbinical Academy, Woodmere, NY
Personal: Age 48. Born in Bronx, NY.
Family: Married to Mayira. No children.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times