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“There’s a deep subconscious rumbling there,” Leader said. “You know, you start talking about God, there’s the Jewish thing that says, ‘whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, you’re gonna put me back in the ghetto. It was getting rid of God that saved me from the ghetto.’ It’s such a deep thing inside of 21st-century Jews.”
Slater doesn’t carry that cultural baggage: He talks about God a lot, with no detectable sense of irony or self-consciousness — and it’s noticeable. Some years ago a friend told him he has “that thing that Protestant ministers have, but it’s Jewish.” Slater isn’t totally sure what the friend was talking about, but he suspects it’s connected to faith.
“This basic sense that it’s not about me, or you, it’s about God,” Slater said. “We’re seeking something together. Spiritual seeker, among those paradigms, that would be the right thing to identify. I do a lot of day-to-day stuff, and managerial stuff or whatever, but at bottom that’s what drives it.”
And Slater is unambiguous that this sensibility isn’t something he picked up in rabbinical school but goes back to the lessons he imbibed at the feet of his parents and grandparents, the selflessness they displayed in spending large chunks of their lives overseas in developing nations, often at great personal risk.
“That kind of faith is just solid,” Slater said. “On some level, there’s no questioning that faith. It does things in the world. It makes things happen that just wouldn’t happen. It actually saves people’s lives. It structures everything. That was a given.
“So interacting with that, I now know that faith changes everything in terms of how you live your life. The only question for me was how to kind of build out the structure.”