I was listening to National Public Radio on Sunday morning and they did an interview with a gentlemen who'd written a book about Abraham Joshua Heschel. It's been awhile since I thought about Heschel, but I was pleased to hear his name again through this interview, learn more about him and was reminded of more reasons why Judaism is fascinating to me.
But first, here are a few details about Abraham Joshua Heschel:
(born 1907, Warsaw, Pol., Russian Empire — died Dec. 23, 1972, New York, N.Y., U.S.) Polish-born U.S. Jewish philosopher and theologian. He studied at the University of Berlin and taught Jewish studies in Germany until he was deported by the Nazis in 1938. After coming to the U.S., he taught at Hebrew Union College and later at Jewish Theological Seminary. His goal was to devise a modern philosophy of religion based on ancient and medieval Judaic traditions, and he emphasized Judaism's prophetic and mystical aspects. Emphasizing social action as an expression of pious ethical concerns, he worked for black civil rights and against the Vietnam War. His writings include Man Is Not Alone (1951) and God in Search of Man (1956).
Source: www.answers .com/topic/abraham-joshua-heschel
Amazing man... my impressions of his work are numerous. One of the biggest contributions he's made to my understanding of the world is how people of faith must work together to better the world and bridge divides. That doesn't mean everyone's ideas melt into some kind of relativism that serves no purpose. Rather it's instructive to recognize the truths of other people and their belief systems. Heschel was a big advocate of interfaith dialogue and spent time involved in such groups. He also marched with Dr. Martin Luther King at Selma during the civil rights era.
Heschel embodied the best of Jewish qualities but didn't insulate himself within his community, even though he was a deeply devout Jew. A rather cool quote I found while researching this intellectual man was: "We are commanded to love our neighbor; which must mean that we can".