On March 15th the Edlavitch DCJCC will host, as part of the Words & Ideas program, a discussion on “Compassion, Love and the American future” featuring Rabbi Shai Held in conversation with Martha Nussbaum, world renowned author and philosopher. This will be the first event of the series that I will be able to attend, and I am very much looking forward to it! I studied philosophy, so it’s always exciting to listen to contemporary thinkers expressing opinions on today’s issues.
While checking out the Words & Ideas program, I discovered several amazing events and got curious about the history and goals of this initiative. I also started to wonder: are words more important than ideas? Or vice versa?
To curb my curiosity, I spoke over the phone with EDCJCC’s CEO, Carole Zawatsky.
Daniela: Can you tell us something about the Words & Ideas program and how it got started?
Carole: Edlavitch DCJCC has a wonderful and rich history of doing intellectual programs at a very high level and I, together with our Board of Directors, wanted a new program this year, that really focuses on vital issues that are relevant throughout the community, featuring writers, artist, scientists, and thinkers.
Daniela: Last October, you had a Words & Ideas 3-day-symposium. How did it go?
Carole: It went very well and addressed the issue of “how we age”. It was called “Getting Older, Getting Bolder” because, like many other people turning toward their 60s…I don’t feel older, I feel bolder! The experiences we encounter in life make us much more comfortable speaking out, and using our experiences in positive ways. I wanted to do something that would address age from a very positive prospective.
Daniela: On March 15th the program will feature Rabbi Shai Held in conversation with Martha Nussbaum. What will they be talking about?
Carole: This upcoming event is with Martha Nussbaum, one of the most prominent philosophers, and an incredible writer for The New Yorker. We will be looking at compassion, which is definitely a relevant issue in everyone’s life.
Daniela: Why is it important to focus on and talk about contemporary issues through a Jewish lens? In other words, do you think that programs such as “Words & Ideas” are particularly significant nowadays?
Carole: As a community we have shared values, shared concerns. We think about the finite resource of our environment, the finite resource of our time, getting older–they are universal concerns. All faiths and religions have something to say about these universal issues. But looking at these topics through a Jewish lens brings the values of Jewish tradition to bear on issues that are important for us, and which we think about together. One of the most wonderful ways to learn about any faith is to see its best values shining forward.
Daniela: Last question – Are words more important than ideas, or vice versa?
Carole: I love that question!! Both — words, and ideas, can bring you up and tear you down. I think that the word is the expression of the idea but I would love to hear what other people think!
My dear readers, since we would also love to hear your opinion on Words & Ideas – please let us know what you think and leave a comment below.
About the Author: Daniela Enriquez is a part of our “Gather the Bloggers” cohort of talented writers who share their thoughts and insights about DC Jewish life with you. Daniela is Italian and comes from the only Jewish family in Palermo (population: slightly higher than DC). Things she likes about America include: the price of clothing, Internet coffee houses and ice rinks. Among the less desirable things are: the obsession with air conditioning, American “espresso,” and root beer. Feel free to contact her for advice on real Italian food in DC!