You Don’t Have To Be Wrong For Me To Be Right: Find­ing Faith With­out Fanaticism

Brad Hirschfield
  • Review
By – January 27, 2012

Rab­bi Hirschfield’s unusu­al past and his cur­rent posi­tion as pres­i­dent of the Nation­al Jew­ish Cen­ter for Learn­ing and Lead­er­ship (CLAL) informed and enabled the writ­ing of this book, which implores peo­ple of dif­fer­ent faiths to seek com­mon ground. The roots of Hirschfield’s time­ly mes­sage are deeply per­son­al. In his youth, he left his home in Chica­go to join a group of mil­i­tant Israeli set­tlers who believed that Hebron was part of the bib­li­cal home of the Jew­ish peo­ple. It was 1980, the Intifa­da, and some of his fel­low set­tlers were attacked. The vio­lent retal­i­a­tion result­ed in the deaths of two Pales­tin­ian chil­dren, a tragedy that shook Hirschfield to the core.” It changed the direc­tion of his life and became the back­bone of his per­son­al phi­los­o­phy and his mis­sion: cul­ti­vat­ing tol­er­ance and respect between peo­ple of dif­fer­ent reli­gions, rail­ing against fanati­cism, and acknowl­edg­ing that no belief sys­tem is 100 per­cent right or wrong. His book includes bib­li­cal inter­pre­ta­tions and grip­ping rec­ol­lec­tions of his inter­faith activ­i­ties, such as par­tic­i­pat­ing in the ground­break­ing of a syn­a­gogue in Auschwitz and host­ing a show on Islam­ic radio, a show that began as a post‑9/​11 effort to increase understanding. 

Hirschfield also address­es mar­i­tal rela­tion­ships, shar­ing the lessons he has learned from his wife, whose approach to chal­lenge is rad­i­cal­ly dif­fer­ent from his own. This dis­cus­sion great­ly broad­ens the appeal of this impor­tant book. 

Robin K. Levin­son is an award-win­ning jour­nal­ist and author of a dozen books, includ­ing the Gali Girls series of Jew­ish his­tor­i­cal fic­tion for chil­dren. She cur­rent­ly works as an assess­ment spe­cial­ist for a glob­al edu­ca­tion­al test­ing orga­ni­za­tion. She lives in Hamil­ton, NJ.

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