Known as both a provocative religious leader and a respected spiritual iconoclast, Irwin Kula has inspired thousands nationwide using Jewish wisdom in ways that speak to modern life. He is the author of Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life (Hyperion, Sept. 2006), which won a “Books for a Better Life Award,” and was selected as one of “10 Best Spiritual Books of 2006.” Featured in the public TV special, “The Hidden Wisdom of Our Yearnings,” and the acclaimed film, Time for a New God, he ranked No. 8 in the “Top 50 Rabbis in America,” listed in Newsweek, and was named by Fast Company magazine and “Religion and Ethics Newsweekly” (PBS) as one of the new leaders shaping the American spiritual landscape. A regular on The Today Show, he is the co-host of Hirschfield and Kula: Intelligent Talk Radio (KXL, Portland, OR), and hosted his own public TV series, Simple Wisdom with Irwin Kula. Rabbi Kula is the President of CLAL, The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.
Well Judaism is just a micro version of . . . Judaism is in a state that’s very similar to the state we’re describing of the world. It’s just a mini version. So you have everything happening in Jewish life. You have fundamentalists who wanna kill all Arabs. We have people who wanna give up the state of Israel because in some vision of grand peace and interdependence, no one needs a nation state. And you have everything in between regarding Israel. Then regarding religious and spiritual practice, you have people that are saying Judaism has done its job. It’s time for it to simply unfold back into the world. And it’s basic ideas and messages have already been incorporated, so we don’t have . . . we don’t need to retain Judaism. And then you have other people who are playing with Jewish wisdom and Jewish practice in very creative ways. And so you have every type of expression right now. And that, again, is either a cause for great fear to some people, or great hope. I’m on the hope side of this. The more different expressions; the more we can have people play – and I mean play in a kind of sacred play – the more we can have people in a sacred play fashion play with their traditions, play with their inheritances, the more wisdom, and practice, and insight we’ll have at the table we all need to dine at. Recorded on: 8/15/07