Episode 38: Surprising Alliances in the Pursuit of Welcoming the Stranger w/Rabbi Susan Silverman
“The whole world is a narrow bridge and the most important part is not to be afraid. This does not mean banishing fear, but rather living with it.”
-Rabbi Susan Silverman on Rabbi Nachman of Breslov
Rabbi Susan Silverman is an activist and writer . She is the sister of Laura, an actress and writer, Jodyne (Speyer), a writer, and Sarah, an actress, writer and comedian.
In 1997 she and her husband wrote the bestselling book Jewish Family & Life: Traditions Holidays and Values for Todays Parents and Children, which launched a Jewish multimedia enterprise, JewishFamily.com. They have five children by both birth and adoption and live in Jerusalem. She is also the author of Casting Lots: Creating a Family in a Beautiful, Broken World (Da Capo 2106).
Rabbi Susan Silverman’s upbringing was secular-Jewish. Her parents’ “religion” was liberal politics. Something Rabbi Susan still believes is worthy devotion!
Today Rabbi Susan Silverman’s rabbinic work includes activism on behalf of asylum seekers in Israel, advocating for liberal Judaism and promoting adoption. She is a founder of KAMOCHA: A Jewish Response to Refugees, on the Board of Directors of Women of the Wall, on the International Council of The New Israel Fund and the Founding Director of Second Nurture: Every Child Deserves a Family – And a Community.
In my conversation with Rabbi Susan Silverman we discussed:
The surprising alliances that have come to be formed amongst the wide range of people that are fighting on behalf of the asylum seekers from Sudan and Eritrea. Whether it is Jews from the Haredi community or from the oft right-leaning settler communities, those that believe all humans are created in the image of God come together across political lines in the attempt to save even just one life from torture, sexual assault, and forced army conscription.
We also discuss how those very same alliances are very complicated as friends one day can be antagonists the next day… especially if that next day is the Jewish New Month (Rosh Hodesh) and women are attempting to pray at the Western Wall with full equality.
Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) along with her sister Sarah Silverman (center) and Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem’s Western Wall ( Ricki Rosen/Corbis )
For organizations doing good work on the issue of refugees and asylum seekers, be sure to check out:
To watch Rabbi Susan Silverman discuss her work around adoption, click on the video below!
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