TEACHER SPOTLIGHT: J. Michael "Mikey" Hess Webber
J. Michael "Mikey" Hess Webber teaches Kitah Vav (6th Grade) in Beth El's Berman-Lipavsky Religious School. Rabbi Webber is in her fourth year at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and also serves as the Rabbinic Educator at Towson University Hillel.
What inspires you to live a rich and meaningful Jewish life?
Each tradition in our world brings something unique and beautiful to the human community. I believe deeply that each has value in realizing peace and justice in our world. Judaism is our tradition, inherited. I am the moral heir of those who stood at the foot of Mt. Sinai, and as such, I see myself as its steward. I deeply honor that which I have received from generations past, and I must work to ensure that I pass on a relevant and healthy Jewish tradition to future generations.
What do you mean by relevant Jewish tradition?
A Judaism that continues to be a living religion: creating a fruitful space for future generations to wrestle with God and challenge the idolatry of every age.
What makes for a "healthy" Jewish tradition?
That our community facilitates people feeling held, seen, and significant; that our community's actions in the world align with the values we espouse - the universal right for liberation and human dignity. Judaism is the lens through which I make meaning of the world - it is my moral compass. I use Shabbat as a time to imagine a calmer and more peaceful world in which we connect face-to-face and are not distracted by our busy lives. I use kashrut as inspiration for making moral choices about what I eat and valuing the material blessings of my life. Kashrut reminds me that all life is sacred. I use my daily prayer as a ritual to quiet my heart. Doing so allows me to connect to something bigger than myself. I study Jewish text to further my search for meaning. Judaism allows me to discern God in the connection between human beings and to feel deeply grateful for the blessings of being human.
One such blessing for me this year is to be part of the Beth El community, teaching Kitah Vav. Thank you for welcoming me into your community. I cannot wait to see what will unfold for us in the coming year.