Every thinking person and caring person has been affected by the pain and suffering in our world of late. And most of us have been grappling with the horrors of October 7 and everything that has come since then. Today, Rabbi Sharon Brous is here to help us make sense of it all.
Rabbi Sharon Brous is the founding rabbi of IKAR Jewish synagogue and community in LA. Rabbi Sharon was also chosen to bless President Obama and Vice President Biden at their inaugural in 2013, and she returned to do the same for President Biden and vice president Harris in 2021. She was also named the number one most influential rabbi in the United States by Newsweek and The Daily Beast.
Her new book is available now for preorder and it also makes a wonderful gift for yourself and for others. It’s called The Amen Effect, ancient wisdom to mend our broken hearts and world, and I think you’ll love it. So pick up a copy today wherever you get legendary books.
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Rabbi Sharon Brous on coping with grief
The conversation begins with Christopher asking Rabbi Sharon Brous about coping with grief and finding hope post-tragedy. Rabbi Sharon admits feeling shattered, expressing concern for her family and the world. Despite the prevailing sorrow, she emphasizes the pivotal moment in history, urging a deliberate choice toward healing.
Christopher questions how, as a rabbi, she addresses anger, fear, and despair. Rabbi Sharon sees her role as a pastor: comforting the afflicted, acknowledging pain, and fostering empathy. She encourages reconnecting with shared humanity, emphasizing agency in shaping a better future.
“I think that my first job is to be a pastor, to really be a pastor to my community. To, as we say, comfort the afflicted, to name out loud the pain that people are experiencing, to affirm how incredibly worrisome and anguished this time really is. And not to stop there – to then lead us to stretch our hearts and try to find some empathy from our own suffering, to try to reestablish links to a world that we dream is possible, even from out of the depth of the world that we find ourselves in.”
– Rabbi Sharon Brous
Rabbi Sharon Brous on loneliness and finding a community after a tragedy
Christopher shares his distress post-October 7, expressing shock and concern at the rising anti-Semitic behavior. He opens up about feeling out of control, lonely, and abandoned—a sentiment echoed by others.
Rabbi Sharon Brous acknowledges the surprising existential loneliness post-tragedy. Drawing on Dr. Vivek Murthy’s insights, she links loneliness to a gap between needed and actual social connections. Rabbi Sharon underscores the importance of reaching out, emphasizing that human thriving relies on connections. She encourages overcoming the inclination to retreat, advocating for rebuilding bridges to the mainland, as no one can self-sustain on an island.
Reflecting on her own experience after October 7, Rabbi Sharon highlights the healing power of shared humanity, even across cultural divides.
Rabbi Sharon Brous on healing and reconciliation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
On the topic of stopping the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Rabbi Sharon Brous envisions a future of reconciliation and healing. She rejects the idea of a military solution and emphasizes the necessity of building a shared future as neighbors.
“I believe, along with the many thousands of Israeli Jews and Palestinian citizens of Israel, who are part of a very vibrant civil society in Israel, that the only way forward will be together. I believe that ultimately, there will not be a military solution to this conflict, that ultimately, we are going to have to find a way to build a future as neighbors.”
– Rabbi Sharon Brous
Despite the current pain and challenges, she draws inspiration from civil society leaders in Israel, such as the bereaved families’ forum and Combatants for Peace, who have been working together for decades. Brous believes that fostering curiosity and humanity will be crucial in navigating the path towards coexistence.
She introduces the concept of “The Amen Effect” from her upcoming book, emphasizing ancient wisdom to mend both broken hearts and a fractured world.
Rabbi Sharon Brous is the senior and founding rabbi of IKAR, a leading-edge Jewish community based in Los Angeles.
Rabbi Sharon Brous is a leading voice in reanimating religious life in America, working to develop a spiritual roadmap for a soulful, justice-driven, multi-faith ethos in Los Angeles and around the country.
Brous is the senior and founding rabbi of IKAR, a Jewish community that launched in 2004 to reinvigorate Jewish practice and inspire people of faith to reclaim a moral and prophetic voice. IKAR quickly became one of the fastest growing and most influential Jewish congregations in the country, and is credited with sparking a rethinking of religious life in a time of unprecedented disaffection and declining affiliation.
Brous’s 2016 TED talk, “Reclaiming Religion,” has been viewed by more than 1.4 million people and translated into 23 languages.
In 2013, she blessed President Obama and Vice President Biden at the Inaugural National Prayer Service, and returned in 2021 to bless President Biden and Vice President Harris, and then to lead the White House Passover Seder that spring.
She was named #1 on the Newsweek/The Daily Beast list of the most influential Rabbis in America, and has been recognized by The Forward and the Jerusalem Post as one of the fifty most influential Jews.
Brous is in the inaugural cohort of Auburn Seminary‘s Senior Fellows program, which unites top faith leaders working on the frontlines for justice. She also sits on the faculty of the Shalom Hartman Institute-North America and REBOOT, and serves on the International Council of the New Israel Fund, the national steering committee for the Poor People’s Campaign, and the advisory board of Dayenu, a Jewish Call to Climate Justice.
She is a graduate of Columbia University, was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary, and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and three children.
Her first book, THE AMEN EFFECT, is available for pre-order now.
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