Rabbi to Speak at Sept. 22 St. Thomas Luncheon on 'Critiques of Contemporary Religion'

Rabbi David Wirtschafter will present the lecture “Responding to Contradictory Critiques of Contemporary Religion” as part of a “lunch and learn” program from noon to 1:15 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22, in the Fireside Room of the Murray-Herrick Campus Center on the St. Paul campus of the University of St. Thomas. 

A light buffet lunch will be provided free of charge by the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning, the program’s sponsor. Reservations are not required.

Rabbi David Wirtschafter

“Progressive approaches to religion are frequently attacked from opposite ends of the religious spectrum,” said Wirtschafter.  “Staunch traditionalists accuse progressive believers of compromising essential truths of faith in the name of science, while impassioned secularists accuse them of not admitting that science invalidates religion of any sort.” 

Responding to these attacks, Wirtschafter will defend the progressive view “that religious teachings need to evolve and that religion and science can be complementary influences rather than competing ideologies.”

Raised in Minneapolis, Wirtschafter graduated from Brandeis University with a degree in English literature and from Hebrew Union College in New York with a master’s in Hebrew literature.  He serves as rabbi of the Ames Jewish Congregation in Iowa and is actively involved in interfaith dialogue, social justice and community service.

Wirtschafter’s presentation is part of the Jay Phillips Center’s Rabbis-in-Residence program, which is supported by a grant from the Blythe Brenden Fund of the Ted and Dr. Roberta Mann Foundation. 

The Jay Phillips Center is a joint enterprise of St. Thomas and St. John’s University in Collegeville.  Wirtschafter’s residency extends throughout the semester, during which he will serve as guest professor in numerous classes at both schools.

More information can be found on the center’s web site.