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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.

FBI Releases 2010 Hate Crimes Data; Numbers Hold Steady

The FBI released hate crimes data for 2010 earlier today, and the numbers of hate crimes
reported has held steady since 2009.

Religion-based hate crimes accounted for 20% of the total (a slight uptick from 2009’s
19.7%), behind racially motivated crimes.

As in past years, however, religiously motivated crimes led the pack in some states, including
New York.

 
Numerically, religiously motivated crimes accounted for 1,409 reported offenses, broken down
as follows:
  • 65.4 percent anti-Jewish.
  • 13.2 percent anti-Islamic.
  • 9.5 percent anti-other religion, i.e., those not specified.
  • 4.3 percent anti-Catholic.
  • 3.8 percent anti-multiple religions, group.
  • 3.3 percent anti-Protestant. 
  • 0.5 percent anti-Atheism/Agnosticism/etc.
Anti-Semitic crimes remain the most prevalent of those reported. However, there is a slight
shift from 2009, where 70% of religiously motivated crimes were anti-Jewish and only 9%
were anti-Islamic.