Discourse of a Lifetime: A Meeting with Rabbi Lau, Chief Rabbi of Israel

By Eliana Amundson. Edited by Adam Shamam and David Chernobylsky.

Rabbi David Baruch Lau is unlike any Rabbi I have ever had the chance of ‘meeting’. Aside from being a descendent of several generations of Rabbinical elite, he is the youngest person to ever have been elected for the esteemed position of Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of Israel. Rabbi Lau is certainly not the usual Rabbi, currently serving as a reserves major in the Israeli Defense Forces intelligence corps.

That is why when, in early January, Rabbi Lau’s decision to take a tour of the West Coast brought so much excitement. This would be the first time ever Rabbi Lau would sit down with established Jewish student representatives from the many southern-California campuses.

When the Rabbi first entered the meeting room, many of us students held our breath. This was an event we had been waiting for with great anticipation. We weren’t just star-struck, we were aware of the great wisdom Rabbi Lau emanated and we wasted no time in asking our beseeching questions.

The event was set up as an open, question-and-answer style discussion, students from every angle of the Jewish spectrum sought answers from Rabbi Lau. An extensive scope of topics were discussed at the meeting, ranging from Jewish Law, to the horrible recent events in Paris, to politics and Obama’s policies concerning Israel.

Still, Rabbi Lau was able to incorporate these topics into overarching themes that were applicable to all of us Jewish student leaders. After Simcha Leibovich—World Zionist Organization Executive of North America and Professor at the IDF Leadership Institute—opened up the arena, it became clear what Rabbi Lau wanted to convey to us: Truth.

Through his colorful jokes, clever anecdotes, and charming stories, Rabbi Lau illustrated the importance of staying true to who we are as Jews. And how, specifically, did he suggest we do this? Through our beliefs and traditions; because through our traditions we can engrave the fortitude and vitality of the Jewish People’s future.

The Rabbi noted the theme of Jewish lineage. The impact of his father, Yisrael Meir Lau, the former Chief Rabbi of Israel, permeated through the discussion as Rabbi Lau stressed the importance of maintaining the distinct contact we as Jews have with our deeply rooted past. We develop our connections to the future through the continual awareness that we are all brothers and sisters by blood and at heart. We shouldn’t need an enemy to remind us that we are all one nation.
Rabbi Lau concluded the historical discussion with the sentiment: In order to remain as one we must stay strong in our identity. We must remember that what we have in common is far greater than that which separates us.