Last week I traveled far off the beaten track in western Guatemala. The only news of the world that registered there was the path of hurricanes heading in our direction (the area is still recovering from Hurricane Stan two years ago) and the Peruvian earthquake (the areaâ€™s history is full of earthquakes and volcano eruptions) . But the central question on my mind was a global issue: what can religious communities do about the stark poverty that is so obvious there?
Awraham Soetendorp is a household name in the Netherlands so an English language symposium to celebrate his life and mark his formal retirement as rabbi of a Reform Jewish congregation in the Hague last month was quickly over-subscribed. Those lucky enough to attend were in for an eclectic treat: wise words, history, politics, provocative suggestions, music, and theology all woven together with good humor. It was a well timed reminder, at a time when Dutch politics are often tense and polarized and many Muslim immigrants meet intolerance, of what is finest in the Dutch traditions of pragmatism and spirit.