Posts Tagged ‘interfaith’

“Even when one sees something ugly in another person, one should give heart to the fact that there, too, dwells the name of the Blessed One, for there is no place empty of God.” —Rabbi Jacob Joseph Katz
I strongly recommend From Enemy to Friend: Jewish wisdom and the pursuit of peace to all readers interested in interreligious dialogue and peacemaking. In this book Rabbi Amy Eilberg has done a compelling job presenting personal stories, classical Jewish texts, and peace and conflict theory to bring readers a powerful vision to guide our everyday lives as peacebuilders. There is inspiration for all who feel that “peace is not a utopian ideal, but a daily need.”

For anyone unfamiliar with the rich peace tradition in Jewish texts, Rabbi Eilberg shares that “the command repeated more frequently than any other in the Torah — 36 times, in fact — is the command to love, to reach out to, and do justice to the stranger.” She offers rigorous yet accessible engagement with Jewish texts, highlighting the many ways that peacemaking forms a central component of Jewish teachings.

Rabbi Eilberg illustrates that peacemaking is not merely a set of tools or techniques, but a way of being in daily life. As peacemakers, we must begin with transforming our own hearts, and extend our efforts into the world of our neighbors. With regular practice, we can learn to “unclench our fists, minds, and hearts when we feel wounded,” and live into the truth that “all human beings, even those who have hurt and threatened us, are human creatures like ourselves, worthy of the same respect and dignity we demand for ourselves.”

When the fear and hate that are revealed in the news become overwhelming, we can remember that many ordinary people hold peacemaking as the central value. For example, I learned of the exciting work of Clergy Beyond Borders, essential for building understanding in a pluralistic society. In another example of peacemaking lived, Rabbi Eilberg writes about the intentional community Oasis of Peace/Neve Shalom/Wahat al Salam, where Jewish and Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel live together. Across our religious traditions we need guidance and inspiration, to learn to lay aside our fears and suspicions of difference that often get in the way of building relationships.

Readers will find that From Enemy to Friend offers inspiration, deepened understanding, and rich material for reflection. In a world that is hungry for peace, Rabbi Eilberg’s inspiring and helpful work deserves a wide audience.

Disclaimer: A copy of his book was provided by the publisher for review purposes. No fee was received.

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In My Grandfather’s Blessings: Stories of strength, refuge, and belonging, author Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D., shares a beautiful description of Chanukah from her grandfather, Rabbi Meyer Ziskind. I found this to be a beautiful, powerful message, and a heartfelt description of the holiday’s significance. I share it in hopes that these words will bless you:

“The story of Hannukah says that God’s light burns in the darkness even without oil, and it is so,” said my grandfather. “That is one of the miracles of the light. But there is more. There is a place in everyone that can carry the light. God has made us this way. When God says ‘LET THERE BE LIGHT,’ he is speaking to us personally, Neshume-le. He is telling us what is possible, how we might choose to live. But one candle does not do much in the darkness. God has not only given us the chance to carry the light, he has made it possible for us to kindle and strengthen the light in one another, passing the light along. This is the way that God’s light will shine forever in this world.”

May this special season of light bring joy to you and your loved ones.

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To inspire your prayer life in this new year, I recommend A World of Prayer: Spiritual leaders, activists, and humanitarians share their favorite prayers. Published by the consistently excellent Orbis Books, this exciting collection of over 100 prayers was edited by Rosalind Bradley. The prayers come from a breadth of religious traditions and from cultures around the globe. The collection includes favorite prayers selected by prominent people of faith, including theologians, artists, writers, musicians, and Nobel peace prize winners. It is uplifting to see Mairead Corrigan, Nelson Mandela, and Yusuf Islam gathered in one place. Each prayer is accompanied by a personal commentary or reflection.

As a small taste, I offer here one of my own favorites, written by Teresa of Avila, who lived from 1515 to 1582 in Spain. It was selected for this volume and translated by theologian James Alison.


Nada te turbe,                                        May nothing wind you up,

nada te espante,                                     Nothing affright you;

todo se pasa                                           Everything comes and goes

Dios no se muda                                     God, still, just there;

la paciencia                                             Through patience

todo lo alcanza;                                       All will be achieved.

quien a Dios tiene                                    If you have God,

nada le falta:                                          You lack nothing:

solo Dios basta.                                       God alone will do.


prayer © 2012 by Rosalind Bradley

Disclosure: No fee was received for this review.

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