Rabbi Greenberg closes High Holy Days seminar

During the conclusion of the annual High Holy Days Seminar, sponsored by the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, Rabbi Irving “Yitz” Greenberg discussed “Covenant as a Method of Perfecting the World.”

Greenberg, a Modern Orthodox rabbi with cross-denominational appeal who is also founding president of CLAL — The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, outlined 12 steps for keeping the covenant, including finding someone to love, committing to that person and devoting yourself to your community.

“Only one thing is stronger than love — it’s committed love,” Greenberg said.

Held at Stephen S. Wise Temple on Aug. 16, Greenberg addressed a group of approximately 165, including rabbis and rabbinical students, during his keynote address.

Greenberg compared the religious and secular worlds’ competing views of how to achieve a perfect world. Some religions argue that it’s God’s will if the world will be perfect or not; secular movements place all the responsibility in the hands of humans, and Judaism emphasizes humans’ work with God in improving the world, Greenberg said.

The all-day Board of Rabbis seminar featured study sessions led by Rabbis Sharon Brous, Noah Farkas, Zoë Klein and Shmuly Yanklowitz. The Rev. Cecil Murray, former head of L.A.’s First African Methodist Episcopal Church, lectured. And Hollywood screenwriters worked with local rabbis on writing their High Holy Days sermons.

“We bring rabbis across the denominational spectrum,” said Rabbi Mark Diamond, the Board of Rabbis’ executive vice president, explaining that the annual seminar is the organization’s largest program.

After Greenberg’s lecture, Hollywood screenwriter Alex Litvak (“The Three Musketeers”) politely but eagerly approached the rabbi to ask for his autograph.

Greenberg, of course, obliged.