Peace, Justice, and Jews: Reclaiming Our Tradition
Unabashedly left-leaning, but by no means homogenous, this literate, thought-provoking collection examines from all angles, in some four dozen essays, the idea that editors Polner and Merken believe ""reflects the most basic attitude in our Jewish heritage"": Shalom, ""much more than the absence of war... it encompasses wholeness, grace, and truth."" Covering everything from scriptural imperative to Israel to Arab-Jewish relations to animal rights, this is an excellent addition for libraries and classrooms. Standouts include Kenny Freeman's Middle East dispatches, in which friendships with Arabs illustrate how ""Jews and Arabs could live together... if their primary allegiance was to a unified Holy Land, rather than to their own nationalist needs."" Claudia Dreifus contributes a remarkable elegy, recalling trips to Germany on which she pieced together the story of 14 family members killed by the Nazis. Helen Fein's vital essay addresses the false ""Articles of Faith"" that form part of the Holocaust's legacy, such as the lingering myths that ""our existence is always in peril,"" and that Jewish victims ""went dumbly... to their deaths, 'like sheep to the slaughter.' "" Calls to action include Richard Schwartz admonishing readers ""not to wait for the right opportunity to come along... but to actively seek opportunities to practice justice."" Though some essays feel slight-especially in the opening section, ""What We Believe""-there is much to learn here for anyone, Jew or Gentile, interested in global issues of peace and justice.