Building Bridges

Clal builds bridges across communities to encourage pluralism, diversity, and openness.

The Wisdom Daily: That Dress, and the Humbling Reality of Others’ Perceptions March 3, 2015

"...How we interpret the color of clothing is the least of the ways in which we see the world differently. It's actually quite amazing how we challenge one another's sense of reality so demonstrably. Perhaps we should use this controversy as a practice of humility in engaging others with whom we deeply disagree. Every morning, perhaps we should look at this dress and realize that some of us really do see white and gold, while some of us really see blue and black..."

Rabbi Irwin Kula to Speak at Carthage College Third Annual Diversity Summit on Wednesday March 18 March 3, 2015

Carthage College is hosting its third annual Diversity Summit focusing on the theme of religious tolerance. Rabbi Irwin Kula is discussing "Beyond Tolerance: The Indeterminacy of Truth and the Too Muchness of Our Identities" on Wednesday March 18th at 7pm. For more information, go to


Litigation v Conversation: Rabbi Brad Hirschfield on Discrimination in the Workplace February 27, 2015

This week the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case involving a young Muslim woman and Abercrombie and Fitch. Samantha Elauf’s attorneys claim she was discriminated against when she was not hired because she wore a hijab, which violates the retailer’s “Look” policy. Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, president of Clal and co-founder and executive editor of, says that maybe what we need is not so much litigation, but “to imagine bigger and talk more” in an increasingly diverse culture.

From Odyssey Networks’ FAITH ON THE RECORD

The Wisdom Daily: An Exchange with a Hero February 25, 2015

"There's much about social media that degrades conversation and exacerbates polarization. But, like every technology, it also empowers us and offers opportunities to speak across boundaries and borders. Tim Byrd, a veteran of the war in Iraq who fought in Mosul, is a juvenile corrections officer in Washington state, a husband and a father of five. I met him on Facebook, where we connected after he heard my guest spot on Glenn Beck's show.

ConverJent and JWA Launch Jewish Time Jump Curriculum February 25, 2015

"A Brand New Curriculum developed by ConverJent and The Jewish Women’s Archive provides rich material to educators and families for use with the groundbreaking mobile GPS game for learning Jewish history..."

Rabbi Owen Gottlieb founded and directs ConverJent, incubated at Clal

Andrew Hahn, the Kirtan Rabbi, "First We Sing" February 24, 2015

It was difficult for Rabbi Andrew Hahn to accept that a traditional rabbinical path was not his calling. Then he discovered Krishna Das’s music. A harmonium purchase came next, and he began composing music based on Hebrew melodies using the call and response structure of kirtan.

The Wisdom Daily: Some People Need to ‘Stay Weird’ to Stay Alive February 24, 2015

"...We all need hope. And the more hopeless things seem, the more we need the encouragement of others. By offering both, Moore did what so many award-winners attempt to do in their acceptance speeches - to make a difference. It worked where many others have failed, because he shared a piece of his experience. He humanized what's so often theorized, and in doing so, spoke to people across many divides that usually only help correctness get in the way of compassion..."

The Wisdom Daily: Norway’s Beautiful Ring of Peace February 23, 2015

"...The Peace Ring was a symbolic act, to show that these Muslims and the many volunteers who participated with them are committed to protect their sisters and brothers who are Jews, and to do so in the name of Islam, the faith that inspires them and to which they devote themselves (organizers were reportedly inspired after a Copenhagen synagogue was attacked earlier this month)..."


Rabbis Without Borders: When rabbis won’t speak about Israel February 20, 2015

"...“Israel right now is the third rail — they’re scared to touch it. They don’t want to alienate or inflame some portion of their congregation.” Rabbi [Rebecca] Sirbu said that the narrative about Israel that people believe has changed over the years. The older generation, who lived through the founding of Israel or the Six Day War, have a far different belief system than those who grew up in the 1990s.

How Do We End Religious Extremism? February 20, 2015

World leaders met at a recent conference in Washington, D.C., to discuss how best to address the dangerous rise in religious extremism. But we'd be wise to take a cue from ordinary citizens who understand religious peacemaking, and don't sit idly by while governments debate what to do: "The Muslim community of Oslo, Norway, are building what they call a ring of peace around the central synagogue." Watch my video below for more insight and discussion.

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