Article Published in 1999
(RNS) — Rabbi James Rudin had a front-row seat to all the major developments in Jewish-Christian relations in the second half of the 20th century.
Probably no other rabbi has traveled as widely or met with as many global religious leaders as Rudin, who for 32 years worked at the American Jewish Committee, retiring as its national interreligious affairs director in 2000.
At 87, he’s now written a memoir chronicling his efforts to improve Jewish-Christian ties in the wake of the Holocaust and give Jews a measure of dignity and respect they were often denied.
Rudin’s book, “The People in the Room: Rabbis, Nuns, Pastors, Popes, and Presidents,” tells of his many travels — 42 times across the Atlantic — and his meetings with popes, presidents, Protestant denominational leaders and world-famous evangelists.
The People in the Room: A Conversation with Author and Interreligious Leader Rabbi James Rudin: YouTube Video
Go behind the headlines and read the inside story told by “one who was in the room” as Christians and Jews—strangers and adversaries for nearly twenty centuries—reversed that sad history and created an extraordinary revolution of the human spirit. Told by a global interreligious leader, this authoritative book is the riveting personal account of the significant issues and major personalities he encountered in the vital effort to permanently change the relationship between two of the world’s major religious communities.
His belief in the goodness of humanity and undying faith that with interreligious dialogue we can find good in all religions, Rabbi James Rudin opens up to his life’s work, his journey into the soul of religion, spirituality, and life.
Rabbi Rudin takes us inside the Vatican, Camp David, churches, synagogues, and other stops across the globe, where he and so many others worked under the radar, tirelessly, for a lifetime, building rapport and bringing the religions together with interfaith dialogue. Rabbis, reverends, pastors, priests, nuns, popes, all working in tandem to make our world a better place.
As Rabbi Rudin and others keep putting their next foot forward, we find inspiration to ask:
Read this book and learn the inside story.
"Is Superman Circumcised? The Complete Jewish History of the World's Greatest Hero" (McFarland) is the provocative title of Roy Schwartz' detailed analysis of the most famous comic book hero in history. The book is very big, as befitting Superman: it weighs a pound and a half, contains 364 pages and measures 7x12 inches.
Israeli-born Schwartz, a director of marketing and business development for a law firm, has merged his keen knowledge of all things Jewish with his childhood love of comics. The result is a highly readable volume replete with many pages of notes, numerous illustrations, website listings, and a bibliography.
Schwartz presents a fascinating thesis: in 1934, a year after Hitler gained power in Germany, two Jewish young men from Cleveland - Joe Schuster and Jerry Siegel - created Superman. Their mythical "Man of Steel" provided their fellow Jews, and indeed the entire world, with an invincible and beloved anti-Nazi warrior who ultimately morphed over the ensuing decades into a universal fighter for Tikkun Olam, the need to repair a world filled with injustice, evil, and brokenness.
As millions of people know, Superman was born in outer space on the planet Krypton and his father had the Hebrew sounding name Jor-El. The youngster, named Kal-El, leaves Krypton in a rocket ship and is deposited in rural "Smallville, Kansas" at the home of Martha and Jonathan Kent. The couple take in the mysterious visitor and give the child from space a mundane, earthly name: Clark Kent. In time, "the mild-mannered" Clark becomes a newspaper journalist in a Manhattan look-alike city called Metropolis.
Eighty years ago on January 20, 1942, the infamous Wannsee Conference took place in a large lakeside three-story mansion in suburban Berlin. Fifteen Nazi German leaders attended the meeting that coordinated plans to "orderly execute" ---murder--- millions of Jews during World War II.
The conference minutes, written by Adolf Eichmann, a conference participant, noted that: "Due to the war, the emigration plan [for Jews to leave Europe for other lands and nations] has been replaced with deportation of the Jews to the East, in accordance with the Fuhrer's will."
The Nazis often employed euphemistic phrases to conceal the true sinister meaning of their policies. "Deportation… to the East" meant sending Jews---men, women, and children--- in locked overcrowded filthy railroad boxcars to German death camps located inside occupied Poland.
The object of the conference, convened and led by Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the dreaded SS Security Service, was "to make all the necessary preparations for the Final Solution of the Jewish Question in the German sphere of influence in Europe." "Final Solution" was repeatedly used at Wannsee to describe the mass murder of millions in order to solve the alleged "Jewish Question."
Rabbi James Rudin
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