“We live in a world,” says Brad Hirschfield, “where religion is killing more people than at any time since the Crusades.” And when it comes to fanaticism, Hirschfield is not speaking abstractly; he once embraced it. As a young man in the early 1980s, he left his family’s upscale North Shore Chicago neighborhood for the West Bank city of Hebron, where he joined a group of settlers who were committed to reconstituting the Jewish state within its biblical borders. He carried a gun and, on one occasion, used it. He still doesn’t know if his bullets found their mark.
Now, Hirschfield has renounced all such rigid delineations of people into categories of totally right and totally wrong, entirely good and entirely evil. He seeks to build bridges among people of different faiths—and those with no faith at all. He is devoted to teaching inclusiveness, celebrating diversity, and delivering a message of acceptance—not as feel-good pabulum but as forceful and indispensable antidotes to the blind passions and willful ignorance that threaten us all.
Grounded in biblical scholarship and interwoven with personal stories, You Don’t Have to Be Wrong for Me to Be Right provides a pragmatic path to peace, understanding, and hope that appeals to the common wisdom of all religions. Pointing the way through the continuum of conflict, Hirschfield addresses:
• the ways faith has many faces
• how justice can coexist with forgiveness and mercy
• how unity does not necessitate uniformity
• the ways we can learn to disagree without disconnecting
Though conflict is an inevitable part of life—a function of being connected to one another—Hirschfield is a voice of peace and reconciliation, showing us that conflict is also an opportunity to learn and grow and often to grow closer.
RABBI BRAD HIRSCHFIELD is president of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership and a popular commentator on religion and society. He is the cohost of the weekly radio show Hirschﬁeld and Kula, and creator
and host of the television series Building Bridges: Abrahamic Perspectives on the World Today. Named one of the Top 50 Rabbis in America in Newsweek magazine and one of the nation’s leading preachers and teachers by Beliefnet.com, he lives in Riverdale, New York. You can visit the author at www.bradhirschfield.com.
“In a world that has experienced wars and terrorist attacks on a gigantic scale in the name of religion, a book like this is timely and important. Rabbi Hirschfield advocates dialogue instead of warfare, conflict resolution through debate and discussion, faith without fanaticism.” –Association of Jewish Libraries
“A wise and important story, engagingly told. I hope everyone, from the most piously committed to the most militantly atheist, reads it and absorbs its lessons.”
—Rabbi Harold S. Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People
“Brad Hirschfield is one of the freshest and most innovative minds in religious thought today. From the ashes of Ground Zero to the summits of global leaders, he has pioneered a philosophy of using ancient texts to create coalitions of understanding and hope. Anyone committed to religious tolerance today must understand his ideas—and must put them to work.”
—Bruce Feiler, author of Walking the Bible and Where God Was Born
“Spiritual sojourners of all faiths seeking sincerity and authenticity of religion will benefit greatly from Rabbi Hirschfield’s candid testimony of his life’s journey. His visionary first-person narrative reveals that the man who makes the voyage—to the human core of tolerance, respect, generosity, and peace—discovers that the voyage makes the man.”
—Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, author of What’s Right with Islam Is What’s Right with America
“ ‘Through you all the families of the earth will be blessed,’ God says to Abraham in the Bible. Yet, for so much of history, the different religions have often turned the hardest of hearts to those who don’t accept all their teachings. Brad Hirschfield brings a unique understanding—forged in years of theological study and personal interreligious dialogues—of where so many great faiths have gone wrong, and what can be done to guarantee that the blessing God bestowed on Abraham can, after almost four thousand years, finally be achieved.”
—Joseph Telushkin, author of Jewish Literacy and A Code of Jewish Ethics