EDITORIAL: Respecting differences

Cantor Leo Fettman’s story of his Holocaust experience last week seemed to leave an impression on the gathering of mostly retired adults at Tabor’s Learning in Retirement program Thursday. More than once, listeners gasped as Fettman described some of the unspeakable evils he observed and experienced at the hands of the Nazis during World War II.

More than a story-teller, Fettman also was a teacher and sometimes a preacher. He came not only to share his memories of inhuman prejudice and abuse, but also to challenge his listeners to do more than listen. He wanted them to live differently when they left the Wohlgemuth Music Education Center.

Fettman’s persistent theme was tolerance and respect for differences. Without apology, he described how he, as a man of Jewish faith, was indeed different than the vast majority of his audience, who were predominantly Christian. At times you could almost feel tension creeping in at the corners as he insisted that Judaism and Christianity were merely different paths to God, not one better than the other. An unsettling notion no doubt for the majority of listeners, who are accustomed to proclaiming the exclusivity of Jesus for salvation.

No one said respect for differences would be easy. Can we honestly respect if we fervently disagree? This, folks, is where reality meets idealism.

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