Funerals, Weddings, Spiritual Enrichment
John Knox Village's First Spiritual Life Symposium
David Orange is a Jewish spiritual leader and educator serving the Jewish community of Rochester, NY for over 16 years. Addressing contemporary needs, David serves the religiously unaffiliated and disaffected, the religious “nones,” the LGBTQ community, and others with his sensitive, personal and heightened spiritual touch. David is a respected doer in the community and he applies his keen knowledge of various faith traditions towards those who seek a more meaningful, connected and heartfelt spiritual experience. He has also served as a longtime volunteer, worship leader and adult education instructor, teaching classes that include: "Judaism 101", "Removing the Fences Around God", "Illusions" and "Science & Spirituality." He currently teaches adult courses at The Rochester Kollel, as well as 5th Grade Judaic Studies at Temple B’rith Kodesh Religious School. His compassion for the spiritual welfare of elders at the Jewish Home of Rochester and St. John’s Home/Meadows is a rewarding force in his life.
John Knox Village Voice Volume 41, Number 4, April 2017
John Know Village recently held its first Spiritual Life Symposium and was attended by over 50, mostly resident, participants. David Orange presented the theme of "Removing the Fences Around God." David is a Chaplain to the Jewish community at St. John's Home in Rochester, NY.
He is also a community educator in matters of Jewish life, faith and religion in general. His teaching goal is to make his students think: About other peoples' faith; about God in ways that may be new to the student and to thin about what we believe and why.
In his opening remarks, he said he did not come to John Knox Village to change anyone’s faith or religion, adding that he expected people to disagree with him, even strongly, and that would be a good outcome.
By the end of the three-day symposium, we could say with certainty that we were all challenged to think about God in ways we have never considered before. We found some ideas that resonated with our faith and there were “A-ha!” moments of clarity. We even discovered that some of his ideas were offensive to our own images and understanding of God. He made us think.
The first day was focused on comparing different world religions and their concepts of God. We discovered many similarities between them. We explored the Biblical and historical connections between Judaism, Islam and Christianity as all three of these major world religions trace their spiritual heritage back to Abraham and Sarah.
David challenged us to consider the ways religion has misinformed us by perpetuating ideas about God that can be contradictory to our understanding of God as All-loving, All-knowing and All-powerful to name a few.
By Rev. Darryl Powell, Spiritual Life Director
"David Made Us Think"
The second day was focused on the question, “Who and What is God?” David talked us through definitions of “energy” and “God” to point out the conclusion that God is “Pure energy- infinite, limitless, energy.” He challenged our brains and hearts to consider that God, Pure Energy, is the source of the “Big Bang” theory of creation and so all the energy and all the matter in the universe is energy that originally came from God and was God.
By day three, our brains were starting to tingle. David’s ideas were becoming more challenging to understand and difficult to incorporate into our existing ideas about God. Day three was devoted to the question, “Who and What are We?”
We wrestled with understandings of “The Soul” from the perspective of different faith traditions. We considered the differences between soul, mind, consciousness, physical and spiritual reality. We were challenged to consider that what we truly are is not our bodies. What we are is spirit, mind, and body all intertwined. And what about reincarnation? Does it happen? Who believes it and why? He concluded with a concept that our being and God’s being are intertwined in ways that are closer than we can ever comprehend.
The reactions to the symposium have been varied. The intellectual challenge was stimulating. Some discovered new ideas about God that were revealing and helpful. Some participants completely disagreed with David’s ideas, but enjoyed the process of learning. Some concluded David was a heretic.
Some participants found that in the end their own faith was unchanged, but they are now more confident in what they believe and are better prepared to articulate their faith to others. Nearly everyone was challenged to think about God and faith in ways that were new to them. Overall, it was an energizing, challenging and meaningful experience.
At JKV, we strive to live the 7 Dimensions of Wellness, in the Spiritual Life Symposium experience, we lived the Spiritual, Intellectual, Social and Emotional dimensions. A hearty “Thank You!” to everyone who invested the time to share in this experience.