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Meet Hanan Schlesinger of Jewish Studies Initiative of North Texas in North Dallas

Today we’d like to introduce you to Hanan Schlesinger.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Hanan. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I am an Israeli Rabbi and teacher of Jewish texts, having come to Israel as a young man at the age of 18. In 2005, I was recruited to move to Dallas in order to head the Community Kollel of Dallas, a framework for high level Jewish studies. When that institution folded after a few years, I was asked to stay put in Dallas and to be part of the founding of the Jewish Studies Initiative, becoming its Executive Director and Community Rabbinic Scholar.

The most important part of my job is teaching passionate, pluralistic and professional Jewish adult education classes throughout the Dallas Jewish community.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The road has actually not been that difficult at all. The greatest stumbling block has been the tension between the success of my educational work in Dallas and my desire to go back home in Israel. The tension was resolved in 2013 when our present arrangement was put in place. I now live in Israel but I return to Dallas 9 times a year for 72 hours each time in order to teach all my classes back to back and then fly back home.

Jewish Studies Initiative of North Texas – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I am an Orthodox rabbi but few of my students are Orthodox. I have found an approach that speaks to serious and searching Jews no matter what their level of commitment or belief. We focus not on finding the truth or the one right approach, but rather on highlighting the many legitimate and meaningful ways to understand any given issue. At the same time, I am deeply involved in interfaith dialogue in Dallas, having helped to found a framework called Faiths in Conversation. FIC works in tandem with Jewish Studies Initiative, offering monthly public programs that bring myself and Muslim and Christian religious leaders into dialogue.

Jews of all stripes and types are invited to participate in our classes which take place both in daytime and evening slots. People all of types and religions and people of no religion at all, are invited to attend our Faiths in Conversation programs.

All programs and classes are on break for the summer but will be beginning again the week of September 10, 2017.

What moment in your career are you most proud of?
Pride is not something that I can deeply relate to. I simply love what I do and I love the interaction with my students and dialogue partners. I am grateful for every opportunity to teach and to learn.

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