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“No Religion Is an Island”: Heschel on Interfaith Relations

Date: Tuesday, Aug. 24 | 7:00–8:15 PM EDT

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel was one of the most famous American rabbis of the 20th century. Known for walking with Martin Luther King Jr. at Selma to advocate for the civil rights of African-Americans, Rabbi Heschel was not only deeply well-versed in Jewish tradition and learning, but also committed to living out the values he preached. Heschel is also known for advocating for more interfaith dialogue after the Vatican’s proclamation of Nostra Aetate calling for fellowship between Christians and Jews after millennia of antisemitism. In response to these changing attitudes, Heschel, in 1965, delivered his “No Religion is an Island” speech. What pushed Heschel to write such a speech, initially delivered to a Christian audience? How does one interact with another when there is a lack of shared values? How do we maintain our distinctness when in dialogue with those different than us? By exploring this speech, we will learn how Heschel’s own theology of tolerance and dignity, all while not losing the integrity of one’s own self, shaped Heschel’s stance on interfaith relations whose reverberations are still felt today.

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