Sunday, May 4, 2014

Welcome to 36 Voices

About this blog

36 Voices is a new blog I've created to write about issues relating to the Jewish community, Israel, the Middle East and international relations, human rights and civil society around the world.  The name for the blog comes from Jewish legend, which says that at any given time there are 36 righteous individuals in the world, who, through their actions, justify the continued existence of humanity. I've always liked this idea, because it highlights the notion that what we do, how we act, how we treat other people, has an impact not only on ourselves and our immediate circle, but on the world as a whole. There is something important about the fact that tradition says there are 36 of these individuals walking around - not one, not two, but thirty six - setting aside any temptation to go off the path here into a discussion of gematria (Jewish numerology) and the significance of the number thirty-six itself, I  really like the idea that there is no one way to be  a righteous person, no one perfect, ideal path to follow. Presumably, each of these thirty-six special people relates to the world in their own way, which is , of course, another valuable lesson: that people of good conscience can (and most certainly will) have differing opinions and argue from time to time.

With so many challenges facing leaders today in the Jewish world and beyond I would suggest that it is crucial that we keep the lesson of the 36 in mind, that we realize that people of good conscience and good will can disagree when it comes to difficult issues and decisions, and that rather than letting these disagreements serve as stumbling blocks we see them as intersections of opportunity. This is an idea I try to hold close in my daily life and work, and the guiding vision for this new blog.

About me

I have been writing for publication 24 years, and from 2007-2012 was the founder and publisher of the New Vilna Review, a journal of Jewish thought and culture. I was educated at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Harvard University where I was also a Literary Fellow at Dudley House, Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and non-resident tutor in creative writing at Eliot House, Harvard College. I previously served as Assistant Regional Director for the AJC Boston office and as Director of Public Affairs at the Consulate General of Israel to New England.

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