An excerpt from my recent Huffington post blog post about how individuals, nations, and religion cope with catastrophe:
“I have seen my share of tragedy in the work I do, I have worked in conflict zones around the world for much of my life, especially in the Middle East. Nothing ever prepares you for the pain and suffering of parents who lose children to senseless warfare, or children bereft of family. No one prepares you for hundreds of Syrians in a desperate refugee camp coming up to you with agony in their eyes combined with respectful smiles, telling all the horror and not understanding a word of what they are saying. Nothing prepares you for the trauma of leaving them behind, pulling yourself from their arms and hands and fingers and mournful eyes, jumping back behind a barbed wire fence. They are traumatized and mourning, but so are you.
Gopin, who has been a primary adviser and occasional co-instructor, calls the center “revolutionary” in that it may be “the only place in the world [where] a Jewish center of higher learning [combines] advanced academic conflict resolution theory and practice with the principles of rabbinic approaches to mediation and conflict resolution, examining narratives as well as law, and merging that with training for practice.”
Roth’s ancient inspirations are what he calls the “forgotten” Jewish role models of pursuing peace, including Aaron in the Torah, first-century rabbi Yohanan Ben Zakai, and individuals throughout history who were called in Jewish literature “pursuers of peace.”
“Ben Zakai was known as a ‘rodeph shalom’ [pursuer of peace] – the third-century text said a person who makes peace does so not only between [neighbors], husband and wife, family and family, but also between city and city, government and government, and nation and nation,” said Roth. …
Just a few days ago was the longest night of the year. Another way of looking at is that this was night in which the tide of darkness began to turn back in favor of light. Bunched around this time are so many ancient holidays of lights and candles, of which Hanukah and Christmas are but two. Ancient rabbinic tradition suggests that the purpose of the small light at night is to teach that it takes only the light of one individual candle to illuminate the darkness of an entire room—or the world.
Peering at small lights at night, meditating on them, also has another interesting impact. It makes the blinding light of the morning sun feel almost miraculous. Indeed, many of the pre-monotheistic nighttime celebrations of light at this time of year are actually celebrations of the birth of light, and particularly sunlight. There is an inescapable reality to …
“None but a noble man treats women in an honorable manner. And none but an ignoble treats women disgracefully.”
– The Prophet Muhammad (At-Tirmithy)
Last year, I was approached by MarcGopin.com to write a column focusing on positive incremental change.
While I am always in favor of an optimistic approach, I confess that it is sometimes hard to remain positive. This is especially difficult considering the many challenges women – and especially Muslim women – continue to face in establishing and preserving their rights.
For example, it is true that the tribal practice of honor killing – in which women are slain to restore the “honor” of their families and communities – is not exclusive to Islamic societies and even existed in pre-Islamic times. However, it is also true that the perpetrators of these crimes are often Muslim – and their victims, numbering in the thousands each year, are Muslim …
I met Aryaratne over twenty years ago in Cambridge, had a wonderful dialogue with him about Buddhist and Jewish approaches to compassion. Laurence Simon of Brandeis University, my old colleague and friend, introduced us, and I have been grateful ever since. Here is an honest article about this extraordinary man and his movement, the Sarvodayah Movement.
A.T. Ariyaratne: Leading Sri Lanka’s Largest Civil Society Movement for 50 Years
By Anuradha K. Herath
The meek 77-year-old Ariyaratne, often called the “Gandhi of Sri Lanka,” has become popular for his massive meditation sessions in which hundreds of thousands of people converge to pray for peace. His Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement, which Ariyaratne established 51 years ago, is based on Buddhist and Gandhian principles — Sarvodaya in Sanskrit means “awakening of all” and Shramadana “to donate effort.” The organization is the largest civil society movement in the country. By its own estimations, it
THIS LETTER FROM ELANA ROZENMAN:
February 26th, 2009
TRUST- WIN visit to “Cordoba” school, Hebron
The ongoing conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians in the aftermath
of the violence in Gaza and southern Israel has put a strain on the ability
and willingness of many Israelis and Palestinians to engage in
peace-building activities. In that context last Thursday morning a group of
Israeli women (Jewish and Christian) set out from Jerusalem with enthusiasm
and some trepidation to meet with Reem Alshareef who is the Muslim director
of the Cordoba school in the H2 area of Hebron which is under Israeli
control. For pictures, press here and search under ‘Women Hebron’.
The Israeli women were from the left, the right, and the center politically.
All of them are in our wonderful book “Sixty Years, Sixty Voices: Israeli
and Palestinian Women” (www.sixtyvoices.org) One was an Armenian Orthodox
woman who is a …
A REPORT BY DR. KATRIEN HERTOG
International Women’s Conference Celebrates Women’s Leadership
Bangalore, 6-8 February 2009
“If the Lehman Brothers would have been ‘Lehman Sisters’, would we be in the same mess as the one we are in now?” This provocative question characterizes the lively atmosphere of the Third International Women’s Conference, organised by the International Association for Human Values (IAHV) in Bangalore at the beginning of February. The Conference was dedicated to ‘The Light of Leadership: Integrating Global Perspectives’ and brought together 700 women from 68 countries and the most diverse cultures. All these women have taken up a leadership role in the world, whether on grassroots level or at the top, and this in the most diverse areas, such as health, politics, business, media, education, art or science. A top manager of the World Bank was sitting next to the first …
This is a conversation on the Religion and Ethics Newsweekly of PBS that I wanted to share with you. Here is the link to the video, and below is the transcript of part I.
BOB ABERNETHY, anchor: Now, a conversation about the spirit of the country on the eve of the Obama inauguration. Alice McDermott is a writer, a National Book Award winner, whose latest novel is “After This.” Rabbi Marc Gopin is director of the Center on Religion, Diplomacy, and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University in Virginia. And Dr. Robert Franklin is president of Morehouse College in Atlanta.
Welcome to all of you. Bob Franklin, the mood of a country is an ambitious and sometimes elusive thing to try to get at. But what do you sense, especially among African Americans?
Dr. ROBERT FRANKLIN (President, Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA): I think that Barack Obama’s election has evoked