The course revolved around the Hebrew word 'ger' which comes from the word to reside [i.e. resident, also stranger, as in ‘You were a ger (stranger, foreigner) in Egypt’, and also as used by David in the Psalms, ‘We are all foreigners in this world’].
We are born without knowledge or experience so there is a ‘ger’ inside each of us. So Jewish thought about learning how to deal with the other is about learning how to be kind to ourselves, to our children, to our co-residents, and to actual foreigners who also live in our midst.
A wonderful thing happened to me on the way to this lecture which exemplifies this notion of ‘ger’. I was late and had to take a taxi, and was rather anxious about getting there on time since I had to set up and film the actual lecture.
After telling the driver where I was going (I really did not know the actual address – the course was being given in a room at l’Université de Montréal), I had a wonderful exchange with this wise man who told me to calm down. He, on the other hand, was driving through the streets of downtown Montreal as fast as it was legal to drive to get me there on time!
First, I thanked him for bringing me to my senses. He (Greek Orthodox) then shared his own thoughts on religion and G-d.
Really, this is an experience that can only happen in Montreal!
* Check out Sonia Sarah Lipsyc‘s blog (http://soniasarahlipsyc.canalblog.com) – a great complimentary source of information for this week’s ALEPH Summer University courses.