Last Wednesday, Rabbi Drew spoke on Jewish views of spirituality as part of an interfaith panel discussion at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB). Part of the events of CSULB’s ASI’s Respect Week, the panel discussion on Spirituality in Daily Life was moderated by the director of CSULB’s Multicultural Center, Dr. James Sauceda, Rabbi Drew was joined by Don Allen of the Navigators, representing a Christian view, and by Imam Mustafa Umar, representing a Muslim view. Each of the three panelists spoke for 10-15 minutes on how their faith views spirituality and then the floor was opened up for questions and answers from the student audience.
In his talk, Rabbi Drew began by laying out a framework that “the idea of spirituality is rather a recent notion, springing up in the last couple of centuries, so it’s not something that we clearly see defined back for millenia – in the Bible, in Rabbinic Literature, and the various medieval writings. So, this is actually a new conception that we’re trying to see what how it comes out in Judaism. The various things that I’ve read seem to identify spirituality as being mindful, conscientiousness, or simply being in the moment and that seems to characterize what this spirituality is – it’s being mindful.”
Rabbi Drew went on to say that “Judaism isn’t inherently spiritual, nor does it force people to be spiritual, but it allows people to be spiritual.”
“A big component of Judaism is הלכה –Jewish Law – where there are certain actions that Jews are supposed to do. This הלכה is a framework or foundation for what we should be doing, but it doesn’t necessarily include spirituality. And I feel that, from the ground up, people can inject spirituality, can include spirituality, and really animate their own lives through doing that.”