COLUMBIA — Yossi Feintuch, rabbi of Congregation Beth Shalom, talks about why he likes Columbia and his favorite aspects of Judaism.
I grew up in: Israel
When I was little I wanted to be: A writer, then I fine-tuned it to reporter. I’ve always loved to write.
I came to Columbia: To become the rabbi of Congregation Beth Shalom. I was attracted by the idea of living in a college town.
My favorite thing about Columbia is: It’s very green. I also like that you don’t need to travel on the highway to get around.
My favorite aspect of Judaism is: We don’t have a pope. No one can actually talk in the name of Judaism. Each branch of Judaism uses its own approach. There’s more than one right way.
If I could go anywhere, I would go to: Israel. Jerusalem is always exciting because of its beauty and Jewish history. It’s a very inspiring place. I also like the desert, snorkeling in the Red Sea and hiking.
The political figure(s) I admire most are: Presidents George W. Bush and Harry Truman. Bush captivated my heart because traditionally most American Jews do not support the Republican nominee. Bush has been a faithful and staunch supporter of the state of Israel even though he knew he still wouldn’t receive the votes of most Jews. Bush stuck to his principles and removed his support for Israel from all political considerations.
Truman appears to have been an anti-Semite on a personal level. However, he was able to transcend his own personal anti-Jewish feelings and help immeasurably with his support of the nation of Israel at a very critical time (1948).
If I could invite any three people to dinner, they would be: Maimonides (Medieval Jewish philosopher); Shimon Peres (president of Israel); and the Prophetess Deborah (Biblical prophetess and judge of Israel)
Tell us a favorite Jewish joke: Two litigants come before the rabbi. He listens to each of them.
After listening, he says to the first one, “You are right!”
After listening to the second litigant, the rabbi says, “You are right, too!”
The rabbi’s wife, who had been listening, comes up to him and says, “It cannot be that two of them are right.”
The rabbi replies, “You are also right.”