Hebrew for “loving kindness”

God is not static and we’re not static

Sammy Seid
  • Sammy Seid

Ner Tamid Synagogue

  • Contact: 12348 Casa Avenida, Poway 858-513-8330 www.nertamidsd.org
  • Membership: 140 families
  • Rabbi: Sammy Seid 
  • Age: 31
  • Born: Mission Viejo
  • Formation: University of California-Santa Cruz; California State-Fullerton; Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies-American Jewish University, Los Angeles
  • Ordained: May 2019

San Diego Reader: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?

Rabbi Sammy Seid: The term in Hebrew is chesed, which most closely translates as “loving kindness.” If we increased the amount of loving kindness in the world, it would be a much better place, and we would be much better people for it.

SDR: Why Judaism?

RS: Judaism is an action-based religion. Faith is important, theological discussions are important, and grand philosophical ideas are interesting and engaging. But at the end of the day, Judaism says, “Great! But now what are you going to do?”…. My wife converted to Judaism as an adult and she once said something that really threw me off: “I think, when I look at it, it’s easy to live life as a Jew.” That blew me away. I’d never heard anyone say it was easy being a Jew. I told her I thought she was missing something — being a Jew isn’t easy. She said, “No, I didn’t say being a Jew is easy; I said living life as a Jew becomes easy, because Judaism provides a sort of instruction manual.” And she was right. In some ways, what is made available is a “How-To” guidebook that comes with life if you choose to live as a Jew.

SDR: What’s the mission of your community?

RS: Our mission is to connect Jews to Torah and each other. That really sums up what I hope to be able to do, and what is successful here. We have a range of events and community gatherings offered. We have Schmooze Night, where we get together to chat and play cards. We also have serious learning sessions, including our “Yearn to Learn” adult education series where we engage each other in learning and studying texts. These aspects of the community help us live out our mission.

SDR: What one book has had an impact on your ministry?

RS: God of Becoming and Relationship by Rabbi Bradley Artson. He provides us with a particular theology about God, not as being, but as becoming. It’s this idea that we’re in constant flux – God is not static and we’re not static; our experience of God and the world is dynamic and changing. That has helped guide my experience of the world—to recognize how things change from one moment to the next.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

RS: The short answer is I don’t know. The longer answer, which Judaism puts forward, is that there are two worlds – this world and the world to come. Some people say Judaism doesn’t have much of an opinion about the afterlife; but there’s a lot in our tradition that talks about what might happen after one dies. However, I don’t think it’s concretized. There’s even a line that says the sages are not in the world to come but the world to come is in the sages. It’s a mindset to understand this peaceful existence, this peaceful place after death. All that is to say, I don’t really know. I know I’m here in this world, I know I have to do things that are upright and good in this world, but I don’t know what happens next…. Ultimately what matters is chesed, treating each other with loving kindness and dignity.

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