Anna-Lise Bjerager: “Det gælder dit liv – Bent Lexner om jødedom og eksistens”

After 40 years as being the Chief Rabbi in Det Jødiske Samfund Bent Lexner has – as it is widely known – passed on this task to Jair Melchior. At the same it is an opportunity to look back, take stock and reflect on the prospects of the particular interpretation of Judaism, which he is a part of, in modern day Denmark.

With the help of Anna-Lise Bjerager, journalist and author, Bent Lexner has gathered his thoughts and reflections on Jewish life and practice in the book “Det gælder dit liv”. A book, that late in the creative process was sadly influenced by the terror in Copenhagen on February 14th.

That way the story and timeline becomes an almost intimate and relevant contribution to understanding Jewish tradition and the situation of the Jews in Denmark in general. At the same time it is a warm portrtait of a personality, that has grown up and lived in not to mention been playing a prominent role in the orthodox Jewish context in Denmark. It means strong traditions and standards, which for obvious reasons are hard to change – and in Bent Lexner’s perspective mostly should not BE changed.

This is especially clear in Bent Lexners comments on the difference between Det Jødiske Samfund and the progressive Jewish congregation Shir Hatzafon in terms of the role of women. In his opinion it will undermine the roles of men and women in orthodox Judaism, if the essense of religion is tampered with – like when ordaining female rabbis. He conveys a comment from a member of Det Jødiske Samfund, who had attended services in Shir Hatzafon and found the reading in Danish quite wrong.

In other words, “Det gælder dit liv” is not a centrist or consensus in the ongoing debate among Jews on which way Judaism should take in the future. Bent Lexner definitely recognizes his position openly. However, an opening may be seen in his world view, when he is open to women playing a more significant rol, for instance as synagogue principals, in Krystalgade. On top of this a certain amount of approachability may be detected, when Bent Lexner in lectures ‘outside the walls’ of a Jewish context states: “There are no right and wrong Jews. There are only different Jews”.

Anna-Lise Bjerager: Det gælder dit liv – Bent Lexner om jødedom og eksistens
Kristeligt Dagsblads Forlag
ISBN: 978-87-7467-230-2
288 pages
Price: 299,95 kroner