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,
Education: Degree in comparative religion and history,
Personal: Age 48. Born in Bronx, NY.