January 2016

There is a battle over surrounding Western Civilization’s youngest religion, Islam. Political candidates spar over how to refer to the “right wing” of Islam. Labels like Jihad, radicalism, fundamentalism, ISIS, ISIL, Sharia law are tossed around without certainty about what each really means. What is certain is the disconnect between these labels and a spiritually beautiful faith.

I had an opportunity to appreciate the beauty of Islam this past spring, when I spent a bit of time with a wonderfully caring, articulate, and warm Imam from Great Britain. In the car ride back from a delicious kosher steak dinner, (we both had religious dietary requirements!), we talked openly about our religions and what each faith hopes to profess. He made it very clear that Islam is a religion that strives for peace.

Tragically, however, the sword of war and terrorism has too often replaced the olive branch of peace. Fanatical extremists—even Jews—continue to kill in the name of religious convictions.

Difficult times lead to difficult questions. I encourage you to bring yours to Friday night services on January 15th, when we will welcome back our guest speaker, Dr. Larry Lowenthal at 7:30 pm. Dr. Lowenthal is the leading authority on Jihad and radical Islam in the Greater Boston Community. He has spoken to us before on a variety of issues facing the

Jewish people, however, I believe this subject is the most important for us to hear. He will help us understand the labels associated with Islam and help us distinguish the myths from the reality.

I want to encourage parents to bring your children, especially, the teens to hear Dr. Lowenthal. As we begin a new secular year, we need to properly understand what words and terms are really all about. As the year goes on, we will hear lots more about what Islam is and isn’t. Let us understand from a position of peace.

Rabbi, Dr. Larry Bazer