From Enemy to Friend

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"Articulate and accessible to both scholars and laypersons, the book includes a rich account of Eilberg's own experience, building peace between Jews, between Jews and Palestinians, and through interreligious dialogue."--Publishers Weekly Starred Review

"VERDICT Eilberg's nonthreatening style and generosity of outlook should win her book an interested readership among many Jewish congregations."--Library Journal

Ancient Jewish traditions offer a guide to reconciliation and peacebuilding in our lives and our world.

From Enemy to Friend blends ancient Jewish sacred texts on peacebuilding, real-life descriptions of conflict engagement--interpersonal, interreligious, intra-communal, and international--and contemporary conflict theory.  The interweaving of personal story, sacred text, and theory demonstrates how relationships can move from estrangement and wounding, entrenched bigotry and fear, to positive, engaged encounter.  What emerges is a portrait of peacemaking as a spiritual practice that can guide the lives of faithful people seeking peace in their lives and in the world.  After exploring this theme in the contexts of interreligious dialogue, struggle within the Jewish community itself, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the book concludes with practical disciplines to cultivate the qualities of soul essential to the art of pursuing peace.

"Amy Eilberg brings the deep wisdom of centuries of Jewish teaching together with contemporary research, her own thinking, and the gravitas of her personal experience to focus on re-weaving the fabric of our common life.  In addition to being a gifted practitioner and a complex thinker, Rabbi Eilberg is authentically human.  In these pages, she walks us through her challenges as well as her triumphs, making it easier for us to imagine contributing to tikkun olam, the healing of the world, by changing the ways we treat our enemies." --Robert R. Stains, Jr., Public Conversations Project

Rabbi Amy Eilberg is the first woman ordained as a Conservative rabbi by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.  After many years of work in pastoral care, hospice, and spiritual direction, Rabbi Eilberg now directs interfaith programs in the Twin Cities at the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning, and is adjunct faculty at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities and St. Catherine University.

Book Details

From Enemy to Friend
Jewish Wisdom and the Pursuit of Peace
Rabbi Amy Eilberg
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From Enemy to Friend Table of Contents 436 Kb
Should be required reading for all who encounter conflict in their lives....The book is exquisitely written, and both learned and practical.
From Enemy to Friend reflects a passionate commitment to pursuing peace . . . . While the book’s main goal is to promote peace building in conflicts both within current American Jewry and between Israelis and Palestinians, Eilberg’s research into Jewish wisdom is applicable to a variety of circumstances and to individuals of any religious (or nonreligious) convictions.
... highly personal account of the process of peacemaking as well as a more academic description of what such a process requires.
Rabbi Eilberg gave me tools for understanding peace work by connecting and dissecting the religious, spiritual, psychological and neurobiological dimensions of human interaction in the face of conflict.

Her section, “Listening from the Heart” reinforced what I have done implicitly throughout my career as a communication professor. I have taught the importance of listening to one’s adversary in almost every communication course I have ever taught. Finally, the book is a personal reflection on the Rabbi’s own journey engaging in this work. She shared realizations she made in encountering texts and in her experience of the teachings of rabbinic sages, both ancient and contemporary. Her insights into peace building became mine. The reader feels her presence, her voice, throughout the text.
This book simultaneously connects and transcends the boundaries of theology, ideology, and psychology in the service of peacebuilding, and it is a beautifully written volume that will inspire, challenge, and nourish readers from every walk of life.
"This is a deeply religious and spiritual book, well grounded in both theory and practice, and deepy rooted in Judaism as well as other contemporary religious thinkers, such as Rev. Martin Luther King, Gandhi and others. It is must reading for rabbis, priests, imams, peace and conflict resoltuion specialists, and anyone else who wants to learn about what Judaism has to say not only about the concept of peace but about how to actually practice it in our personal and professional lives."
"Eilberg -- like the Torah, I believe -- works hard to find a balance between a language of aspiration that tries to stretch readers beyond our normal ways of thinking and acting and ideals so out of reach for most of us that we feel comfortable in not taking her message to heart."
"In addition to an account of her own experience with interreligious dialogue, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and dialogue between Jews on Israel, Eilberg brings to her discussion of conflict and peace in the Jewish tradition a wealth of rabbinic insight. Her analysis is not, however, dominated by a scholarly perspective. Nor, in her examination of conflict in and involving the Jewish community, does she allow her understanding of conflict or communications theory to predominate. Eilberg brings them together, as a practical answer to the commandment of Psalm 34 to "seek peace and pursue it," creating a useful guide for the Jewish peacebuilder."
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