I admit it. I am a fan of Edgar Bronfman. I am also a fan of the many bold statements that he often makes regarding the Jewish community. That is why I enthusiastically allowed myself to be interviewed for his latest book entitled, Hope, Not Fear: A Path to Jewish Renaissance (written with Beth Zasloff).
As a community leader and as a major philanthropist who “puts his money where his mouth is,” he is able to say and do things that others may not be willing to do, or able to do. But that is also what allows him to stand above the rest.
If wisdom is that which is learned from a life of living and experiencing, rather than something that is revealed on high, then Edgar is filled with wisdom. It is this incredible wisdom that he shares with his readers in this book. The book and his insight for the future can be summed up as follows (which certainly could read as a vision statement for JOI, as well):
“Jewish community has always provided a sheltering home for Jews in times of danger and need. But the quality that we most need to foster now in our Jewish home is not just security but welcome. Those who seek a home in Judaism should find a community and a tradition that ushers in its guests with warmth and pride and that celebrates diversity of background and opinion. Those who marry Jews should find in Jewish community a loving family that welcomes them without conditions.”
The book doesn’t come out until mid-September, but I urge you to pre-order it from hopenotfear.com. It overflows with optimism for a bright Jewish future—providing individuals and communal institutions are willing to open their gates to those on the periphery and provide meaningful Jewish experiences for everyone who cares to enter. If you are worried about the Jewish future in North America because you listen to the many pundits who offer us a picture of doom and gloom, then read this book. And then go out and fix the world—using the formula that he sets forth in it.