Rabbi Shammai Engelmayer, a columnist for the Jewish Standard, will ask “Did the Exodus Really Happen?” on Sunday, April 2, at Temple Israel & JCC in Ridgewood, at 12:30 p.m., as part of the shul’s ongoing Temple Talks series.
According to Rabbi Engelmayer, the Torah quotes God as saying, “I the Lord am your God who freed you from the land of Egypt. You shall faithfully observe all My laws and all My rules: I am the Lord.” Most biblical archaeologists and critical scholars, though, do not believe there ever was an exodus. If that’s true, why should we go to all the trouble and expense to celebrate a made-up event, much less “observe all [God’s] laws and all [God’s] rules,” which are dependent on it? Or did the archaeologists and scholars get it wrong?
Shammai Engelmayer, rabbi emeritus of Congregation Beth Israel of the Palisades, has been writing his award-winning column, “Keeping the Faith,” for the Jewish Standard since the early 1990s. He’s won six American Jewish Press Association awards. He also has a weekly podcast called “Keep the Faith with Shammai Engelmayer.” His columns and podcasts deal with contemporary issues through the prism of Jewish law and tradition. He is the editor of “Judaism: A Quarterly Journal of Jewish Life and Thought” and is a popular adult Jewish education instructor. He’s now leading two weekly adult education classes online.
Rabbi Engelmayer was ordained in 1967 but chose to pursue a career in journalism before assuming the pulpit, winning several prestigious journalism awards. He is the author of eight books, mostly on secular topics, and is at work on several more. His latest book, tentatively titled “Judaism For The Disinterested,” will be published later this year. For more information, go to www.synagogue.org.