From Enemy to Friend: Jewish Wisdom and the Pursuit of Peace

Amy Eilberg, Author
Amy Eilberg. Orbis, $25 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-62698-061-7
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Eilberg, the first woman ordained as a rabbi in Conservative Judaism, has produced a practical guide to fulfillment of the Jewish religious commandment to “pursue peace”—not just for personal piety, but to become an effective peacebuilder in the world. Her work addresses both interpersonal conflict and the process of fostering dialogue between groups with deeply entrenched differences. Eilberg provides insight into the basic causes of division, beginning with biochemically based human reactions to fear, and includes her own understandings on peace and conflict theory. The book draws upon, among others, classical Jewish texts and the theology of later Jewish (e.g., Martin Buber) and non-Jewish religious thinkers. Eilberg also offers a peacemaking discipline according to the principles of Mussar, a system of Jewish moral discipline which began in the 10th century C.E., yielding a personal practice that can prevent, and remedy, animosity between oneself and others. Articulate and accessible to both scholars and laypersons, the book includes a rich account of Eilberg’s own experience, building peace between Jews, between Jews and Palestinians, and through interreligious dialogue. (Apr.)
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