Torah of Nonviolence, couverture

The author, rabbi Lynn Gottlieb

     Lynn Gottlieb is one of the first eight women to become a rabbi in Jewish history. Born April 12, 1949 in Bethlehem (Pennsylvania), she was ordained in the Jewish Renewal movement which she helped shape as a new expression of Judaism influenced by feminism, ecology, nonviolence, multifaith understanding and social justice.

     Lynn Gottlieb began her pulpit life in 1973 by serving as rabbi to Temple Beth Or of the Deaf and Hebrew Association of the Deaf during the years she studied rabbinics in New York City from 1973-1981. She also established Mishkan A Shul, an experimental synagogue in New York City dedicated to feminism, the arts and social justice. Gottlieb began combining sign language and performing arts to found a Jewish Feminist Theatre Troupe in 1974 called Bat Kol, a feminine name for God. Lynn Gottlieb brought Jewish feminist theatre, storytelling, ceremony and political action to hundreds of communities throughout the United States of America, Canada and Europe. She served as rabbinic advisor to the Public Theater’s production of the Dybbuk (dybbuk : in Jewish folklore, malfaisant spirit tormenting the alives) and also performed her work there as well. In her early twenties, Lynn Gottlieb joined the International Fellowship of Reconciliation and began a life long advocacy of Jewish Palestinian reconciliation, ending violence against women, confronting racism and a host of other issues. In 1981, she became the first woman ordained as a rabbi in the Jewish Renewal movement and helped organize a massive interfaith service for the United Nations Disarmament Conference in New York that brought a million people into the streets.

     In 1983, Lynn Gottlieb moved to Albuquerque (New Mexico) and cofounded congregation Nahalat Shalom (« Inheritance of peace », cf., spiritual and cultural center for Jewish Renewal in the Southwest. Lynn cofounded The Shomer Shalom Network for Jewish Nonviolence (cf. with members of her congregation and with Ross Hyman, a labor organizer from Chicago (Illinois). Shomer Shalom has grown into a vibrant network of Jews committed to nonviolence as a spiritual and political pathway.

     In March 2002, Lynn Gottlieb cofounded the Muslim-Jewish PeaceWalk for Interfaith Solidarity with Abdul Rauf Campos-Marquetti from the Islamic Center of New Mexico. Together they brought the Peacewalk to 18 cities throughout the United States and Canada. Many of the walks they helped initiate are ongoing. After serving her community for 22 years, Lynn moved to California to become the director of Interfaith Inventions (cf., a foundation that supports wilderness experiences for youth from diverse backgrounds as a peacemaking effort. Lynn also worked for the American Friends Service Committee in San Francisco as co-director of Israel Palestine programing Noura Khouri.

     Lynn Gottlieb is one of the leaders of the American branch of the IFOR (International Fellowship of Reconciliation, cf., a multifaith group founded in August 1914 dedicated to waging nonviolence. Today IFOR has 85 branches, groups, and affiliates in 51 countries. This International Fellowship of Reconciliation counts among its members six Nobel Peace laureates: Jane Addams (1931), Emily Green Balch (1946), Albert Luthuli (1960), Martin Luther King Jr (1964), Máiread Corrigan-Maguire (1976), Adolfo Perez Esquivel (1980).

     Lynn Gottlieb led two Fellowship of Reconciliation delegations to Iran in 2008, thus becoming the first U.S. rabbi and the first female rabbi to visit Iran in a public delegation since the 1979 Iranian revolution. The delegation was dedicated to civilian diplomacy and peacemaking.

     Lynn Gottlieb cofounded the Community of Living Traditions (CLT) at Stony Point Center, Stony Point (New York), as a multifaith residency devoted to the study and practice of nonviolence. In partnership with the International Fellowship of Reconciliation, CLT meets full time residents from the Muslim, Jewish and Christian tradition and a series of internships devoted to food justice, multifaith understanding, the art of resistance and other learning opportunities.

     Rabbi Gottlieb advocates for a return to Jewish nonviolence and a turning away from Israeli militarism as a pathway to Jewish security and regularly leads delegations to Israel and Palestine. After nearly forty years of Jewish Palestinian solidarity work, she currently supports the BDS (boycott, desinvestment, sanctions) campaign to use economic pressure to end occupation. In addition, she works to end the blockade of Gaza. Gottlieb took part in the Gaza Freedom March (from Cairo to Gaza) as part of an interfaith Gaza satyagraha movement in 2009-2010. She was listed among the 50 most influential rabbis regarded in the U.S.A.

      Lynn Gottlieb is the author of She Who Dwells Within: A Feminist Vision of a Renewed Judaism (San Francisco: Harper, 1995). Her work appears in over 40 publications and books including The Fellowship Magazine. She writes about women and violence, Jewish nonviolence and Israel Palestine conflict transformation. Lynn Gottlieb is also a poet whose work appears in several anthologies, as well as a percussionist, Klezmer Dancer (The klezmer is a musical tradition of the Ashkenazi Jews.) and performing artist. Her latest theatre piece, Woman Rabbi, is about the life of Regina Jonas (Berlin, 1902 – Auschwitz, 1944), the first woman rabbi, who was ordained in 1935.


Trail Guide to the Torah of Nonviolence

    This book is a magnificent message for love, peace and hope, not only concerning the Jewish community, but for the whole world as well, and in particular allows a good understanding between the believers of varied religions and acts in order to achieve the peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
    Beresheet bara Elohim, “In the beginning Elohim created”, and he is the Life… The heard and transmitted by Moses Commandments urge us on and on: “You will love”, “You will love…”. “The entire Torah for the sake of peace.” “Speak love, teach love, be love, for the sake of the next generation, make your life a loving example” (extract quoted from an evening prayer). Lynn Gottlieb holds this living demand shared by those who have faith in the power of nonviolence to heal deadly conflict, restore justice and bring peace to the wounded heart of humanity. Through her analysis of practical and religious nonviolence and through her artistic approach, she broadens the way and leads us step by step toward an understanding of Jewish nonviolence applied to contemporary issues in the world today.
    Between the introduction and the epilogue, this Trail Guide allows in fact seven stages:
    The first section, What about the Holocaust?, addresses the most serious question Jewish people raise when considering active nonviolence as a Jewish way of life: would it have worked against the Nazis?
    The second section, The Roots of Jewish Nonviolence, provides readers with a more complete introduction to Jewish nonviolence by exploring seven guiding principles that comprise the Torah of nonviolence and the texts that guide their understanding.
    Hitorrarut (Self-awakening), the third section of the Trail Guide, attends to the inner dimensions of a spiritual life dedicated to Jewish nonviolence. It offers the reader ceremony and ritual that draws upon liturgical, kabbalistic, hasidic and feminist sources that nourish the inner life. It also introduces a kavannah kedusha (sacred intention) which can be recited daily as a preparation for a day in the life of a shomeret shalom (practitioner of nonviolent peace stewardship).
    Hakhnasat Shalom (Welcoming Peace), the fourth section of the Guide, lifts up the art of hospitality dedicated to social justice. Hospitality, in the language of shmirat shalom (religious system of nonviolent peace stewardship, with two main broad categories: non-cooperation and constructive peace building), is the creation of a climate of welcome for the voices of people directly endangered by violence, as well as the work of networking, coalition and cross movement building.
    Section five, Shomer Lashon (the Language of Peace), examines the cultural resources within Judaism that promote nonviolent communication and fruitful dialogue.
    Section six, Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof (Justice justice you shall pursue), addresses the nitty gritty of popular struggle, resistance and non-cooperation. What is the place of dialogue in social movement building? How do we build a movement for change? How do we develop a strategy, plan an action, prepare for the long haul? This section explores the strategy and tactics of nonviolent resistance in the framework of social movement building.
    Section seven, The Question of Palestine, addresses the issue of Palestine and Israeli Occupation at length. How does Palestinian and Jewish nonviolence intersect to create a hopeful future for Jewish Palestinian relationships? Why have thousands of Jewish activists come to support the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement? This section explores the profoundly divisive issues that face organizers and activists in the field of Palestinian and Israeli conflict transformation.

Praise for this book

    “Trail Guide to the Torah of Nonviolence, by rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, is an inspirational and hopefilled book. For those Jewish seekers and practitioners preparing for the life of a shomeret shalom (practitioner of nonviolent peace stewardship), it gives guidance and wisdom, as they struggle to replace war and militarism, and implement restorative justice and reconciliation through nonviolent conflict transformation. In a world struggling to move from violent to nonviolence, this Trail Guide to the Torah of Nonviolence will play an important part in the new consciousness evolving within the Human Family, which proclaims that life is sacred, and we can together, in love, solve our problems without violence, nuclear weapons, militarism and war.” (Máiread Corrigan-Maguire, 1976 Nobel Peace Laureate)

    «Rabbi Lynn has been courageously walking the walk of nonviolence as long as any Jewish leader today. Now she is showing the way to a new generation – read this inspiring book and learn how you can accompany her on this sacred journey.» (Rabbi Brant Rosen, Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation, Evanston, Illinois)

    «Trail Guide to the Torah of Nonviolence is a wonderful introduction to Jewish theology of peace, written by one of the foremost Jewish peace practitioners of today. Trail Guide fits within the genre of Liberation Theology in the perception that scripture can best be understood when read from among the community of people struggling at the base. A great “trail guide” for people of any religious tradition.» (Peace Pastor Doug Hostetter, Director, Mennonite Central Committee United Nations Office)

    «Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb’s Trail Guide to the Torah of Nonviolence weaves together humorous stories, heart-opening poetry, and no-nonsense political commentary to create a framework for the expression of creative nonviolence in our personal lives and in society at large. Her command of Jewish wisdom and law, coupled with real-life experience and a radical commitment to deep social justice and anti-oppression organizing, makes Gottlieb an excellent author for this guide. Maybe if this kind of trail guide were more widely available, we wouldn’t be such a fractured and «Lonely Planet» after all!» (Rae Abileah, Writer, activist, member of Young Jewish and Proud)

    «When one takes a journey it is helpful to engage a guide. Though pilgrimage does not appear in the title, we know Rabbi Gottlieb’s life has been at peace with this practice and for her, the journey is ongoing. The notion of a Trail Guide is well chosen as a way of approaching and working through a Torah of Nonviolence. Although written most explicitly for Jewish explorers, anyone curious about or committed to understanding and practicing nonviolence will be enriched with Rabbi Gottlieb as their guide. Those who have seen her performance of Lilith or sat in a circle of dialogue with Rabbi Gottlieb, will immediately recognize her powerful voice.» (Mark C. Johnson, Former executive director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, USA)