News & Events

Thou Shall Not Stand Idly By

Dear Tanenbaum Community,

Register here to join Rev. Mark Fowler on Wednesday, March 23 at 6pm EST in conversation with Tanenbaum Founder and President, Dr. Georgette F. Bennett discussing the release of her new book, Thou Shalt Not Stand Idly By. This conversation will give context to the Syria conflict, highlight the challenges of displaced persons, and share strategies for long-term peacebuilding.

Thou Shalt Not Stand Idly By chronicles the work Dr. Bennett initiated as a private citizen – which went forward with an unlikely cast of characters and unprecedented partnerships between Syrians and Israelis. That work resulted in the delivery of $225 million in aid benefiting 2.3 million Syrian war victims – and still counting. The Syrian catastrophe has not gone away. But the lessons learned from that work are highly relevant to other crises – especially Russia’s current invasion of Ukraine. In addition to telling an unusual story of humanitarian diplomacy, the book analyses the geopolitics of humanitarian aid and makes serious policy recommendations. Thou Shalt Not Stand Idly By is rooted in the Tanenbaum’s s shared values and tells a hopeful story of how sworn enemies – Syrians and Israelis, Muslims and Jews – can rise above politics and mutual suspicion to alleviate terrible suffering.

The work behind the book has also been the subject of a number of honors.  The most recent – and most surprising – was Georgette’s being included in Forbes first “50 Over 50” Impact List this July. She was stunned to be named as one of four women (along with Condoleezza Rice, Dr. Najat Arafat Khelil, and Susan Rice) who “shaped the course of modern American foreign policy and human rights.” How did a Jewish refugee girl from Queens get to be mentioned in the same breath as these astounding women? In 2019, Georgette was a winner of the AARP Purpose Prize. These honors were inspired by her Syrian work.

  1. Murray Abraham wrote the Foreword to the book and Thou Shalt Not Stand Idly By has garnered advance praise from: Yossi Klein-Halevi, Tony Marx, David Miliband, Mandy Patinkin, Judy Woodruff, and Fareed Zakaria.

To learn more about the book and why Georgette wrote it, please visit her website at

To register for this upcoming conversation, click HERE.

Thou Shalt Not Stand Idly By is available at your local bookstore, StrandBarnes & Noble,  Amazon, and

Tanenbaum Founder and President, Dr. Georgette F. Bennett

Dr. Georgette F. Bennett is an award-winning sociologist, widely published author, popular lecturer, and former broadcast journalist. An innovative and entrepreneurial leader, she is an active philanthropist focusing on conflict resolution and intergroup relations.

In 1992, she founded the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding. In 2013, Bennett founded the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees (MFA) and has since worked to raise awareness and mobilize nearly $220 million of humanitarian aid on behalf of more than two million Syrian war victims. She is also a co-founder of the Global Covenant of Religions/Global Covenant Partners, which focuses on delegitimizing the use of religion to justify violence and extremism. Bennett served in the U.S. State Department Religion and Foreign Policy initiative’s working group on conflict mitigation, tasked with developing recommendations for the U.S. Secretary of State on countering religion-based violence. She is Immediate Past Chair of the Jewish Funders Network, and Honorary President of Religions for Peace. She serves on the Boards of Third Way, Muslim Jewish Advisory Council, Inter Jewish Muslim Alliance and the Advisory Boards of the International Rescue Committee, and the Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue at the Jewish Theological Seminary. She is also an Honorary President of Religions for Peace.

Among many honors, Bennett was awarded the AARP Purpose Prize for her work with MFA and recently received an Extraordinary Women Award from the 92nd Street Y. In 2021, she was included in Forbes 50 Over 50 Women of Impact, and cited, along with Condoleezza Rice and Susan Rice as women who helped shape the course of modern American foreign policy and human rights.

Her book, Thou Shalt Not Stand Idly By: How One Woman Confronted the Greatest Humanitarian Conflict of Our Time was published in late 2021. Her next book, Religicide, co-authored with Nobel Peace Prize Co-recipient, Jerry White, will be released in November 2022.