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September 7, 2008 Guest – Brad Hirschfield

Brad Hirschfield has a history of stirring provocative thought. An acclaimed thinker, speaker, rabbi, and commentator on religion, society and pop culture, he offers a unique perspective on the American spiritual landscape and on political and social trends to audience nationwide.

A sought-out media analyst, Hirschfield has often been quoted on topics ranging from religion and violence to the changing role of religion in America. The co-host of the popular weekly radio show, Hirschfield and Kula, airing on KXL in Portland, OR  one of the top 25 markets nationwide.  Ranked No. 37 in Newsweek’s “Top 50 Rabbis in America,” he is the only rabbi to be featured on “Nightline UpClose.” A frequent guest on Court TV, he has appeared on ABC, CNN, PBS, MTV, and NPR, and was a regular on WWSB-TV (ABC affiliate) in Florida. Featured in PBS-TV’s “Frontline: Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero” and “Religion & Ethics Newsweekly,” he can often be heard on Westwood One and Air America radio networks, and is frequently quoted by the press.

Hirschfield is the President of CLAL–The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, a leadership training institute, think tank and resource center. Recognized as one of the nation’s leading Preachers and Teachers by, the Web’s most popular religion website, he conceived and is featured in a first-ever 18-part interfaith series with religious leaders entitled Building Bridges: Abrahamic Perspectives on the World Today, airing on Bridges Television (American Muslim TV) in 2006-2007. The series, reaching more than 2 million viewers, addresses the divisiveness amongst the traditions.

Never one to shy away from a tough topic, Hirschfield challenges people’s long-held opinions, assumptions and beliefs. A leader for pluralism and interfaith dialogue, he says that we must own the dark side of all our religious traditions or we risk the same kind of hatred that destroyed the Twin Towers. “Religion drove those planes into the buildings, but it can also provide the catalyst for building a better world.”

A speaker at the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music and Colloquium in Morocco and the 2004 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Barcelona, he was featured in the acclaimed documentary, Freaks Like Me, where he explores our fear of the “other,” and helps us grapple with “difference.” He is presently co-producing a film on religious fanaticism in America entitled The Fierce Believers.

Hirschfield has addressed audiences at the Aspen Institute, the Washington National Cathedral, the Islamic Society of North America, and at many leading universities and religious institutes. Author of the forthcoming book, You Don’t Have To Be Wrong For Me To Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism (Harmony, January 2008), he conceived and is the editor of Remembering for Life (CLAL, 2006), a new book on the challenge of Holocaust memory in the 21st century, and is the co-author of Embracing Life & Facing Death: A Jewish Guide to Palliative Care (CLAL, 2003). An Orthodox rabbi, he received his M.A. and M.Phil from the Jewish Theological Seminary, and his B.A. from the Univ. of Chicago.


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