WASHINGTON, PA (Sept. 5, 2019) – When Jeffrey S. Myers, Rabbi and Hazzan of Tree of Life* Or L’Simcha Congregation in Pittsburgh, Pa., spoke at Washington & Jefferson College on Sept. 3, his message was clear: eliminate “H” speech, work to understand each other, and have hope.
Rabbi Myers spoke to a group made up primarily of students, following his presentation with an engaging question-and-answer session. During the evening, W&J College also awarded him with an honorary Doctor of Divinity.
“H” speech is the term the Rabbi uses when he discusses his mission to eliminate the word “hate” from public conversation. On Tuesday, he told the audience at Olin Fine Arts Center that it is up to each of us – not our elected leaders – to change our speech and educate others.
“My mission is this: eliminate H speech,” he said. “We must think about our choices of words before they come out of our mouths, and that is difficult. If you think about how frequently you can use the ‘H’ word during the day, you will discover that it takes a conscious effort. I encourage everyone who is listening to take up the pledge that I made…call it the ‘H’ word and teach someone why you no longer use it.”
He also encouraged audience members to learn more about the neighbors they don’t know – to be brave, explore, and ask questions to better understand each other, realize the ways in which people are alike rather than different, and treat each other respectfully. Where “H” speech is concerned, he used the metaphor of a garden, asking the audience to remember that weeds will grow and must be gently removed.
“Every garden has weeds. We must pay attention to the weeds, but don’t forget about the flowers,” he said. “The weeds must not distract from the joy of the garden.”
Rabbi Myers has dedicated his life and career to helping others, supporting Jewish education, and sharing his message of hope. He received a BA from Rutgers University, a masters degree in Jewish Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary, and studied privately with Cantor Zvi Aroni before graduating from the Cantorial School of The Jewish Theological Seminary of America. He also received Rabbinic Ordination from Mesivta Adath Wolkowisk.
He has also served as a trustee or board member for the Executive Board of the Jewish Educators Assembly; the National Education Commission of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and the National Deliberation Team for Project Etgar; and the Downbeach Ministerium and the Interfaith Clergy Council. He was the recipient of a Schechter Award for his interfaith Evening of Harmony that commemorates the Holocaust and awards for synagogue and family programming. He was a visiting lecturer at The Jewish Theological Seminary of America.
Rabbi Myers received an honorary doctorate in Jewish Music from The Jewish Theological Seminary in 2018, and was recently honored by CNN during its Heroes broadcast.
About Washington & Jefferson College
Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.