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Tanenbaum Peacemaker Dr. Ephraim Isaac speaks at the United Nation’s Church Center Chapel

Tanenbaum was honored to be a part of the United Nation’s seminal event, Faith for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), held at the Church Center Chapel. Tanenbaum Peacemaker in Action Dr. Ephraim Isaac (Ethiopia) spoke eloquently to a diverse crowd; attendees from diverse religious backgrounds and beliefs gathered to discuss how religion can further the quest to eliminate poverty.

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TANENBAUM Peacemaker Dr. Ephraim Isaac (left) with Karin Achtelstetter – Credit: @KarinWaltraut

“I am here of behalf of the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding and as one of its Peacemakers in Action.

First let me congratulate you on your good efforts to deal with the critical question of poverty through the power of religion.

I used to be an incorrigible optimist. I am still, but a corrigible one. My remaining optimism is to see people like you here in this room that have the good will to do the good.

But, let us be realistic. In a greedy world where about 1% of the world’s population owns the wealth of the world and does not want to part with it, how do you propose to eliminate poverty in 15 years as you say? In a world where one American person would rather pay one million to travel to Africa to kill one elephant, or, where the King of Saudi Arabia would rent every room of the most expensive American hotel for several days and have a parade of over one hundred cars parked in a garage all of it decorated with red carpets…. especially at a time when thousands of Middle East refuges are seeking dire shelter, how do you convince the world to do what is right?

I am Jewish and yesterday, on Yom Kippur day, I chanted the Prophet Isaiah who said three thousand years ago (to paraphrase): You fast, you put ashes on yourselves, you exhibit your piety, and say to me “why do you not see our piety, how we humble ourselves with ashes on our heads?“  The Almighty responds, “Down with your piety, what I want is free the prisoners and those you oppress, feed the hungry, cloth the naked, help the poor…” If the great prophet has had so shouted about 3000 years ago, in other words, saying as we say today use your faith to help the poor, and that is what the Almighty G-d wants, and nothing has happened for 3000 years, how do you propose to abolish poverty in 15 years?

I know the World Bank has a lot of money, even if not as much as the 1% of the richest people in the world, and I know the religious people have all good intentions. Still how do we propose concretely to change the world?


Click here to learn more about Dr. Ephraim Isaac and Tanenbaum’s Peacemakers in Action.

Violent, Anti-Semitic Hate Crimes in Brooklyn: News Roundup

In the news this week: Anti-Semitic hate crime in Brooklyn, the effect of Alabama’s immigration law on students, the (possibly secular) origins of Thanksgiving, and other stories.

Peaceful marchers sent a clear message Sunday to vandals who torched cars and scrawled Nazi swastikas in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Brooklyn where Woody Allen was raised: Don't repeat the kind of attacks that once led to the Holocaust. CBS News
 
Of the 6,628 hate crime incidents reported for 2010, nearly all (6,624) involved a single bias—47.3 percent of the single-bias incidents were motivated by race; 20 percent by religion; 19.3 by sexual orientation; 12.8 percent by an ethnicity/national origin bias; and 0.6 by physical or mental disability. FBI
 
An increasing number of state lawmakers say they are willing to consider critical changes to Alabama’s sweeping anti-immigration law, part of which appears to make proof of citizenship or legal residency a requirement even for mundane activities like garbage pickup, dog licenses and flu shots at county health departments.
 
As they learn more about the breadth of the law, which was already described as the most far-reaching of the state-level immigration laws when it went into effect on Sept. 29, some political leaders have gone beyond acknowledging a general need for “tweaks” to openly discussing specific changes, which in some cases are as substantial as getting rid of certain provisions in their entirety. NY Times
 
Alabama’s new immigration law is already profoundly affecting educational institutions, administrators, teachers, and students in the state. Under Section 28 of the law, every public elementary and secondary school in the state is required to document and report the immigration status of every student in the school. Schools are also required to report on the immigration status of every child’s parents. Center for American Progress
 
TENNESSEE – Local and national Muslims called for state officials Saturday to rebuke state Rep. Rick Womick for remarks he made that all Muslims be removed from the U.S. military. Tennessean
 
Gay and Muslim groups say they are relieved after a Michigan lawmaker agreed to drop a provision in an anti-bullying bill that would have carved out an exemption for religious or moral beliefs.
 
State Sen. Rick Jones, a Republican, inserted a carve-out for a “sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction” in the Senate version of the bill. The state House of Representatives’ version of the bill did not include the provision.
 
Jones on Monday (Nov. 14) said he would drop his amendment and vote for the House version after critics said the language could allow gay, Muslim or other minority students to face harassment. Washington Post
 
Some historians believe the 1621 celebration that's sometimes dubbed the "First Thanksgiving," was not actually a "thanksgiving" day at all. In fact, some historians even call it a "secular event."
 
"The 1621 gathering in Plymouth was not a religious gathering but most likely a harvest celebration much like those the English had known in farming communities back home," write Catherine O'Neill Grace and Margaret M. Bruchac in their book, 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving. USA Today