RL911 main banner

This essay is Chapter 6 of Kevin Barrett, John Cobb Jr., and Sandra Lubarsky, eds., 9/11 and American Empire: Christians, Jews, and Muslims Speak Out (Olive Branch Press,  2007).


A Jewish Response to 9/11

Sandra B. Lubarsky


Clearly 9/11 is an American issue, a global issue, and a political issue.  It is also a specifically Jewish issue and American Jews need to respond to 9/11 as Jews and not simply as Americans. In what follows, I will consider why and how the events and consequences of 9/11 have significance for religious communities in general and the Jewish community in particular and how Jews might begin to grapple with this complicated legacy.


I.               Identity, Memory, and Master Narratives

Every decade since the late 1600s, the residents of Oberammergau, Germany have performed the passion of Jesus, keeping the vow made by their ancestors who were spared from the plague.  Until recently, the play depicted Jews as “Christ-killers,” dressed Judas in yellow to call up associations with cowardice and with the yellow Stars of David  that Jews have been forced to wear, and outfitted Caiaphas in a hat shaped like devil’s horns.  Four times, the mob at Jesus’ trial was scripted to shout, “His blood be on us and on our children.”  When Hitler viewed the play in 1934 he said, “It is vital that the Passion play be continued at Oberammergau; for never has the menace of Jewry been so convincingly portrayed as in this presentation of what happened in the time of the Romans.  There one sees Pontius Pilate, a Roman racially and intellectually so superior, that he stands out like a firm, clean rock in the middle of the whole muck and mire of Jewry.”1

Central to the making of traditions, religious and otherwise, is the telling and retelling of sacred stories.  These stories shape and secure the general worldview that defines a tradition.  Master narratives serve as short-hand for the world-orientation and the legitimacy of a life-way.2 They are attached to seasonal periods and calendar dates and repeated in ritual form so that memory is invested with emotional alacrity.  Indeed, master narratives often become a part of the tacit knowledge on which societies are built.  The Exodus from Egypt, the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, and the life-story of Mohammed constitute the master narratives of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

In additional to their psychological power, master narratives stake out epistemological truths.  They claim to be historically accurate even as they often include testimony regarding miraculous events.  In the modern age, of course, the epistemological assertions made by Judaism, Christianity and Islam have been closely scrutinized.  Scholars have brought to bear all the tools of critical and historical exegesis, archaeology, philology and psychology on master stories.  These inquiries were most often undertaken out of a desire to know if the systems in which we have placed our faith have been worthy mediators of reality.  We have been compelled to know whether we have rightly understood traditional claims, rightly grasped original intentions, rightly assessed our place in the world, and rightly comprehended the consequences of our traditions.  What has been revealed has often been painful for believers, sometimes casting their allegiance into doubt.  But it has also helped some to correct errors in their religious paths and others to find alternatives that might help their traditions to grow and flourish under vastly different historical conditions.

It is partly because of the impact of master stories on individual psyches and community identities—and on an accompanying sense of historical mission—that they must be subject to a perennial critique, both from within and without.  The performance of the Passion story in Oberammergau has been subject to such critique, based on its association with violence against Jewish communities.   Beginning in the 1980’s, in response to Jewish and Christian criticisms, the play has been revised. The yellow robe and horned hat have been discarded; the Jewishness of Jesus is now acknowledged; the blood curse is no longer spoken; the condemnation of Jesus is no longer presented as a unanimous Jewish position.  Of course, even with these changes, the Passion story will always evoke memories of anti-Semitism. But now, perhaps, these memories will be incorporated into Christian consciousness and make it possible to tell the central Christian narrative in such a way that the heart is moved without inciting the mob.

The Bush administration and all Americans are presently involved in the shaping of a story that has the potential of being as dangerous to the entire world as the Oberammergau passion plays were to the Jewish community. The story follows the shape of other central narratives, beginning in vulnerability and aiming toward a resolution in which the original vulnerability is overcome by an increase in power. The 9/11 narrative is linked to a larger narrative in which America is understood as being the foremost bearer of democracy, individual rights, and human decency, fortified by a superior economic system.  On 9/11, innocent citizens of this model of civilization were targeted, attacked, and murdered, victims of four remarkably successful hijackings.  They were murdered by nineteen Muslim men, representatives of a part of the world that rejects modernity, secularism, and democracy and remains wedded to an unremediated, irrational religious tradition.  9/11 is the result of a religion that seeks world domination, acting on behalf of a god who rewards fanaticism.  The War on Terrorism is a war that Americans neither started nor deserved.  But it is one we intend to finish, not simply out of respect to those who died on 9/11 or in order to protect American soil from future violations, but for the sake of the security and stability of the entire modern world order.  Indeed, it is assumed that this story will end in victory because, although Americans were innocent victims of 9/11, we are also citizens of the most powerful nation in the world, not about to be undermined by a loose scrabble of Muslim extremists.  This war will make it clear that the power of democracy trumps all other power.  America will win out because America is a democratic country, harboring the purest of hopes that all nations will some day embrace this way of life.

This rendition of the American master narrative is invoked repeatedly by George Bush and, for a large number of Americans, it suffices as good reason for the U.S. war on Iraq. It is a story told to validate, exonerate, and privilege one group of people over another and to legitimize the use of force. It is a story that makes capable use of its emotional content.  “Early on,” writes Nikki Stern whose husband was killed on 9/11, “the idea took hold that the deaths of nearly 3,000 people represented something larger than personal grief.  Our loved ones were ‘heroes’ whose lives were sacrificed to the concept of freedom.”3 And yet it is a story that, upon close examination, appears to require the kind of faith that, in regard to religious traditions, necessitates considerable interpretive effort. Anyone who has read David Griffin’s work detailing the explanatory lapses of the 9/11 Commission cannot but help to note that the 9/11 narrative involves a number of events that might qualify as secular “miracles.”  The pancake collapse of the Twin Towers and Building #7 is visually the most phenomenal.  The fact that no fighter jets intercepted the hi-jacked plans seems a miracle of absence.  And what is to be made of the Boeing 757 that crashed into the Pentagon but left no debris?

The 9/11 story that has emerged lays claim to being what the Jewish theologian, Emil Fackenheim, has called a “root experience”: a public event of such magnitude that it reshapes our understanding of the past, present and future.4 The claim that, “Everything changed with 9/11,” is an indication of its status of an orienting event.  And like a biblical orienting event, it has come to us with narrative gaps as challenging as if the story had been pieced together from fragments of ancient text.

But it would be a mistake to believe that the events of 9/11 are akin to the scroll scraps of Qumran.  The horrors of 9/11 were captured on video. Survivors and rescuers, highly skilled experts and an enormity of information all exist. Those of us who understand the power of orienting events and master narratives cannot allow this story to be so carelessly told.  Too much has been wagered on it.  It has been the literal pre-text for the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq and it has yielded great harm. These consequences alone compel the kind of close and honest scrutiny that we have given other master narratives. We who know the chief sins of master narratives—the power of truth transformed into the power of power, truth claims that point in anger at those who stand in the way, enthusiasm and confidence that declare one way, a single key, a path that is more narrow than straight—must pore over this 9/11 story, exposing its offenses and failings, before we can accept whatever truth it conveys.

The course of Jewish history in Europe attests to the harm that can result from false or prejudiced readings of history.  And surely no good can come of incomplete or inadequate accounts or from unnatural silences and absences. Memory works hard to tell a seamless story about who we are and where we ought to be headed.  It is not immune to that which is either unknown or willfully denied.  Like family secrets, national transgressions corrupt identity, destiny and relations for years to come.

While master narratives serve as conduits for cultural power, they are themselves often stories about power and power relationships, designed to lessen human vulnerability.  So, for example, the Exodus entails a radical reversal of power:  those who were slaves not only become free but regain their status as a chosen people. In Christianity’s central narrative, a similar reversal of power takes place:  the one who is crucified, powerless to withstand the violence of those who misunderstand him, is revealed to be the redemptive messiah whose death overcomes death itself.  The story of Muhammad’s illiteracy has a similar twist: one who could not read becomes the recipient of the most beautiful and powerful truth of all.  Indeed the master narratives of the three Western traditions can be read as narratives that move from seeming incapacity to revealed mastery, from limited to vastly increased power, from persecution to victory.

The 9/11 story also begins in vulnerability to “reckless aggression” and moves, by means of “shock and awe,” to overcome insecurity and fear and insure inviolability.  It has become a story used to explain the extension of America’s reach in the world.  But master stories need not be interpreted simply as stories about victory.  Indeed, Jews, Muslims and Christians, aware of the danger and inadequacy of reading their central narratives as battle tales, have added interpretive depth to their stories so that they become lessons in sensitivity and responsibility. So, for example, the heart of the Passover story is not the victory of the Israelites over the Pharaoh and his taskmasters but the establishment of a covenantal relationship with God at Sinai. The Passover becomes a story that reminds us of our vulnerability—“you were slaves in Egypt” and “strangers” in a strange land.  On the basis of this memory is built a system of obligation for the welfare of the other.  Likewise, Christians have maintained that the core lesson of the Passion is that agape, selflessness, making oneself entirely vulnerable is the ultimate form of relationality.  And Islam instructs its followers to understand that the greatest strength is in submission to God.  For many Jews, Muslims, and Christians, it is a misreading of the text to seek invulnerability and to gain it through the use of aggression and brute force.  Vulnerability is not to be overcome, but rather recognized as part of the human condition, a part that makes us open to each other and to God. 

The Chilean novelist, Isabel Allende, once told an interviewer that, unlike Americans, most people know that they live in a world in which they have little control. “Our challenge,” she said, “is to live with dignity despite our lack of control.”  In the wake of 9/11, people feel radically vulnerable.  Americans feel weakened, exposed, and fearful; Muslims worldwide feel a heightened sense of anxiety, alienation, and foreboding; among Jews there is apprehension and increased consternation.  Our task is to “live with dignity” in a post-9/ll world.  The master narratives of our traditions can help us to do so, both by teaching us lessons in sensitivity and relationality and by exposing the new American narrative as a story bereft of wisdom.  


II.              Terrible Desires and Alternative Narratives

There is an alternative story being told by some in the American secularist community and in the worldwide Muslim community.  The central motif of this story is that 9/11 would never have happened except for American support of Israel.  A secondary theme is that Zionists were actually responsible for the bombing of the towers or that Israeli spies knew it would happen but failed to share their knowledge with U.S. agents.  And the development on these themes is that the invading American forces in Iraq are tools of Zionism. Many of those who offer this story identify themselves as 9/11 truth seekers. But the fact is that this alternative story is based less on the desire to seek truth than it is on a set of pernicious assumptions that parallel classic anti-Semitic charges.

Sadly, according to the Anti-Defamation League, the theory of Jewish or Israeli involvement in 9/11 is widely accepted in the Arab world and by a majority of Muslims.5 According to this version, Jews/Israelis had the most to gain from an attack on the Towers if such an attack could be made to look like it was carried out by Muslims.  Because of the Jewish lobby and the close relations between Israel and the U.S., Jews/Israelis were able to plan and carry out the attack.  Because of Jewish control of the media, the real story of Jewish villainy has not surfaced.  As the deputy editor of the Egyptian government daily, Al-Gumhouriyya, explained:

“We also find a heavy blackout by America regarding the results of the investigations into the September 11 events.  So far it has published no conclusions, and has not told us who the real perpetrator of these events is, as revealed by the investigations.  Since America knows very well that the Jews and Mossad are behind these events, it will never declare the results of the investigations.  This is so as not to anger its ally Israel and in order to evade the evil of these Jews and of the Zionist lobby that infiltrates and rules the decision-makers in America.  In addition, the ongoing blaming of the Arabs and Muslims gives America justification to escalate and develop this wild attack on the Muslims, even though it is an imaginary charge not grounded in reality.”6

Others involved in seeking the truth about 9/11 make the argument that since the true account has been repressed by the U.S. government, it is likely that the truth behind other major world events has also been distorted. If there is one big lie—the 9/11 “story”—it is likely that there are other lies.  Most notably, the accuracy of historical accounts of the Holocaust has been questioned. Why would the Holocaust be the primary candidate for reassessment?  What is the relationship between Holocaust history and suspicions surrounding the official version of 9/11?  For those who hold that Israel’s existence is a scandal, it is a temptation to underplay the horrors of the Holocaust.  For if the evils of the Holocaust were less than reported, so too the victimization of the Jews and any necessity there may be for the State of Israel.  The two allegations—of Jewish responsibility for 9/11 and of the “big lie” of the Holocaust—serve a single objective.  Allegation one:  Jewish Zionists are responsible for the worst act of terrorism ever experienced on American soil, motivated by a desire to control not only Israel but America.  Allegation two:  These same Jewish Zionists have inflated their own history of suffering.  They are not the victims they have claimed to be; indeed, their power has made victims of others.  Together these corrected renditions of the 9/11 and Holocaust stories constitute clear reason why Jewish Zionists have no claim to ongoing existence in Israel.

Seeking truth is fraught with difficulties, even when we admit that there is no simple, singular truth that sits like a pearl in a shell, awaiting the lucky diver.  Instead truth is interwoven in the worldviews that clothe and comfort us in our search for meaning.  And so, facts can be made into fiction, knitted into a narrative that is part of a deeper, unspoken narrative.  When the author of “Planet Quo,” an anti-Zionist website asserts that “it is not anti-Semitic to criticize the policies of the state of Israel,” he is right.  But when he goes on to say that the neocons in Washington operate in service of “but one flag—the flag of the state of Israel” and when he characterizes Jack Abramoff first and foremost as a Zionist and not simply as a deeply corrupt individual who did the bidding of many masters, the subterranean narrative of anti-Semitism begins to breathe.7 Though “Planet Quo” insists that his criticism of Israel is “the moral duty of those who believe in truth, decency, justice and peace,” in fact, those values serve instead as a kind of formulaic incantation for an anti-Semitic brew.

The historical pattern in the West is that major dislocating events often lead to an increase in anti-Semitism. It is an expression of the “terrible desires” that arise during periods of fear and vulnerability—the wish that someone else, some other group, religion, ethnicity, or nation, is responsible for whatever monstrous action has occurred.  When the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma was bombed, many Americans leapt to the assumption that this was the work of non-Christian foreigners.  Muslims were the first accused.  And now we see a similar “terrible desire” among Muslims, many of whom claim that Jews or Zionists were responsible for 9/11.  “It is a skill we learn early, the art of inventing stories to explain away the fearful sacred strangeness of the world,” writes the novelist, William Kittredge. “Storytelling and make-believe, like war and agriculture, are among the arts of self-defense.8 The fact that 9/11 has given rise to “terrible desires”—imposing collective responsibility and heightening anti-Judaism, in some cases, and anti-Islamism, in others—is a consequence that deserves serious attention from religious communities. 

It is possible that we may learn, at some point, that there was Israeli involvement in 9/11 though it is much more likely that the principal actors were U.S. citizens motivated either by an arrogant notion of what is “best” for the U.S. or for themselves.  Still, that possibility raises in me the terrible desire that it never be true, for I fear the consequences it might have on American attitudes toward Judaism and Israel.  The fragile tolerance that holds between secularists and those who maintain religious commitments, the bewilderment regarding Judaism and Jews that even now characterizes relations of many non-Jews to Jews, and the complicated resentments harbored by some toward Jews and their Holocaust memories—resentments interlaced with guilt—make me fearful were Jewish or Israeli involvement in 9/11 to move from possibility to fact.  As a Jew, I understand the terrible fears and desires that now inform the desire of many Muslims to distance their religion from terrorism and to wish that others were culpable.

It is a sign of the asymmetry of power-relations that Jews and Muslims share a sense of vulnerability.  After the Oklahoma bombing, after Timothy McVeigh was arrested, Wolf Blitzer of CNN continued to insist that “there is still a possibility that there could have been some sort of connection to Middle East terrorism.  One law enforcement source tells me that there’s a possibility that they [the white, supremacists] may have been contracted out as freelanders to go out and rent this truck that was used in the bombing.”9 There is still a possibility.  Aren’t these words that reveal a terrible desire on the part of the dominant culture, words that heighten vulnerability? 

The path toward 9/11 truth can be treacherous.  Amidst so many terrible desires, when so many issues of identity are at stake, truth-telling can become truth-denying.   Such is the case for those who in their call for 9/11 truth, give serious hearing to revisionist Holocaust historians and make too much of Jewish or Israeli “influence” on world politics, American media, or the international banking system.  Anti-Semitic assertions must be recognized as utterly inappropriate to the 9/11 inquiry. The same holds true for anti-Islamic assertions that characterize one billion Muslims as part of a terrorizing civilization that clashes with Western culture. Anti-Semitic and anti-Islamic statements must be named for what they are:  ideological constructs rooted in terrible desires.  Jews are not responsible for the ills of the world.  Neither are Muslims.  The ills of the world, unfortunately, surpass the making of one people. Certainly responsibility falls far more at the feet of those with more rather than less power. (And hence the desire to exaggerate the power of those who become the object of terrible desire.)  Those who seek the truth of 9/11 must be on guard against narratives of “self-defense” in which the vulnerability of others is increased.  Most likely, such narratives reveal only a weakness for too easy answers, a desire to mitigate one’s own culpability, and a susceptibility to the kinds of conspiracies that move us further away from truth.  


III.            Shaping a Spiritual Commons:  Interfaith obligations 

For Jews and other religious minorities, the establishment of a secular sphere was a one of the great blessings of modernity, conferring citizenship and enabling participation in the larger social and political order.  The separation of religion and state was supposed to lead to the creation of a neutral arena, devoid of the influence of organized religion.  Religion would be a private activity, kept separate from public life.  Of course this division between public and private, state and religion, was never realized in such a tidy form. In some cases, the privatization of religion simply led to its precipitous decline, thus diminishing its role as a counterbalance to secularism.  In other cases, particularly in regard to evangelical Christianity in the U.S., the relationship between religious and secular realms has been one of protracted opposition.

The Enlightenment solution to religious oppression was a dualistic split between religion and public life, religious and non-religious values and religious and secular power.  As with other dualisms, this relationship has proved inadequate. The post-9/11 period calls us to consider other ways to configure the relationship between the secular and religious and to think anew about the role that religion and religious traditions can play in the public arena.

Those of us who are engaged in religious traditions know that our deepest commitments are not constrained by the separation of religious life from public life.  We seek coherence between meaning systems and a comprehensive understanding of experience. This requires that religion not isolate itself from politics or science or economics and leads us to search for ways to make sense of our traditions in relation to modern forms of knowledge—and vice versa.

The great Jewish theologian, Abraham Joshua Heschel knew the impossibility of “religion without indignation at political evils.”10 In 1963, as the Civil Rights movement gained momentum, he sent President John F. Kennedy a telegram in response to an invitation to discuss the “Negro problem.” 

“Please demand of religious leaders personal involvement not just solemn declaration.  We forfeit the right to worship God as long as we continue to humiliate Negroes.  Church synagogues have failed.  They must repent.  Ask of religious leaders to call for national repentance and personal sacrifice. Let religious leaders donate one month’s salary toward fund for Negro housing and education.  I propose that you Mr. President declare state of moral emergency.  A Marshall Plan for aid to Negroes is becoming a necessity.  The hour calls for high moral grandeur and spiritual audacity.”11

Are we, post 9/11, in a “state of moral emergency?”  Doesn’t religious integrity demand that those of us who act out of moral and spiritual traditions concern ourselves with promoting and protecting life?  Otherwise, don’t we also stand accused of having “forfeited the right to worship God?”  The mantra that “9/11 changed everything” is a ruse for permitting preemptive war, eclipsing human rights, compromising personal freedoms.  Religious people of all traditions must expose it for what it is and they must assert that concern and care for one another, and especially for the vulnerable, is not subject to historical digression.

Religion simply cannot detach itself from the moral and spiritual demands of the day.  Where there is the possibility of preventing evil or the aiding the vulnerable, religion must enter the discussion.  The notion of a “spiritual commons,” akin to the notions of an environmental and public commons, may help us to do so.  The ecological “commons” includes the air we breathe, the soils that nurture our food, the great seas and oceans, the diversity of plant seeds, the water that flows without regard for national boundaries.  The public commons includes language and the knowledge base developed by generations, public squares and neighborhoods, folk music and traditional arts, indeed “anything not owned but shared in common.”12 To speak of a spiritual commons is not to disassociate spirituality from these other life-affirming structures, but to highlight a dimension of both in which relationality becomes a moral imperative.  “Adam, where art thou?”  Cain, where is Abel thy brother?” These are God’s questions to us all and they carry with them an expectation that we will serve as witnesses to each other.  “Are we all brothers or not?” responded Mdm. Trocme of the French town of Le Chambon, when asked why she became a rescuer during World War II.13  The spiritual commons is the site of collective responsibility. 

A recent Washington Post survey found that 46% of Americans have a negative view of Muslims.14 As participants in the spiritual commons we must ask ourselves what our responsibility is in regard to this disclosure.  In a spiritual commons, this view of Muslims is not a problem for the Muslim community alone; it is a problem for us all.  In solidarity with those who are at risk and out of our own responsibility for their increased vulnerability, we are obligated to address this issue as Jews and Christians. 

In the face of terrible fears and terrible desires, membership in the spiritual commons calls for insuring that responsibility and compassion remain in the public domain.  Because the Danes refused to distinguish between Danish Jews and foreign Jews, refused to give in to distorting stereotypes, they were able to save the lives of almost all Jews in their country.  Rescue literature makes it clear that high levels of empathy, strong value systems, and networks of care and responsibility were key features of rescue activity.  Moreover, people who became rescuers reported that their parents didn’t speak negatively about Jews while those who were bystanders recall growing up with stereotypes.  We honor rescuers because they did what our various religious traditions call us to do: to act with fearlessness in regard to the care of life.

The ecologist Aldo Leopold’s evocative guidelines for a sustainable ecosystem have relevance to a spiritual commons:  “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community.  It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”15 To this we can add Wendell Berry’s insistence that a good and sustainable society is one in which “no tender, vulnerable thing has to be sacrificed.”16 This requires that we serve as each other’s witnesses as we strive to fulfill the moral precepts of our religious and spiritual traditions.  We aid and abet one another and we act as each other’s rescuer.  We say “no” to certain things: to stereotyping, to scapegoating, to ignoring the plight of others, to increasing suffering, to power that is unrestrained.  We say “yes” to the prophetic tradition of justice and compassion, to “moral grandeur and spiritual audacity.” 9/11 is not a root experience for Jews, nor should it be one for any American.  It is however, an historical event that calls us to remain vigilant in seeking truth on behalf of justice and practicing loving kindness as a rejoinder to power. –



1. Cited in www.christinaitytoday.com/ct/2004/107/51.0.html.

2. For an excellent discussion and examination of Jewish and Christian master stories see Michael Goldberg, Jews and Christians: Getting Our Stories Straight (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1985).  "Master stories," writes Goldberg, "…offer us both a model for understanding the world and a guide for acting in it.  By providing us with a paradigm for making sense of our existence, master stories furnish us furnish us with a basis for answering some of the most fundamental questions that we human beings can have: Who are we? What is our world like? And given who we are and what our world is like, what then is the best way for us to respond to such a world as this?" The answers to those questions often constitute our most deep-seated convictions about our identity, responsibility, and destiny over the course of our existence.  Hence, master stories not only inform us, but more crucially, they form us." (p. 13) 

3. "Our Grief Doesn't Make Us Experts," Newsweek, March 13, 2006, 20. 

4. Emil Fackenheim, God's Presence in History: Jewish Affirmations and Philosophical Reflections (N.Y.: Harper Torchbooks, 1972), 8-11.  Fackenheim adds the proviso that the experience remain vivid to the consciousness of future generations, something to which we are not yet privy. 

5. See  “Unraveling Anti-Semitic 9/11 Conspiracy Theories,” Anti-Defamation League, a publication of the Gorowitz Institute, 2003 (www.adl.org/anti_semitism/9-11conspiracytheories.pdf)..

6. The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), “Leading Egyptian Journalist: The Jews are Behind Every Disaster or Terrorist Act,” Special Dispatch Series, no. 750, April 23, 2004 (memri.org/bin/ opener.cgi?Page=archives&ID=SP70004).

7. See the Quoman, “Serving One Flag,” posted March 4, 2006 (planetquo.blogspot.com/2006/03/serving-one-flag.html).

8. William Kittredge, "Home" in New Writers of the Purple Sage: An Anthology of Contemporary Western Writers," Russell Martin editor, (Penguin Books, N.Y. 1992),  6-7.  Kittredge's full statement is "Storytelling and make-believe, like war and agriculture, are among the arts of self-defense and all of them are ways of enclosing otherness and claiming ownership."  His point is that stories are a way of making ourselves "at home" in the world.

9. B.A. Robinson, “Aftermath of the 9-11 Terrorist Attack: Attacks on Muslims,” Religious Tolerance.org (copyright 2001 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance), October 25, 2001 (www.religioustolerance.org/ reac_ter1.htm).

10. Susannah Heschel, writing of her father in the Introduction to Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity, Abraham Joshua Heschel, essays edited by Susannah Heschel (N.Y.: The Noonday Press, 1996), vii.

11.  Ibid.

12. Jonathan Rowe, "The Demand for the Common Good," Yes! Magazine (online), Summer 2004 http://www.yesmagazine.org/article.asp?ID=868.

13. Carol Rittner and Sondra Myers, Courage to Care: Rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust (New York University Press, 1989), 102.

14. Claudia Deane and Darryl Fears, "Negative Perception of Islam Increasing: Poll Numbers in U.S. Higher Than in 2001," Washington Post, Thursday, March 9, 2006.

15. Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac (New York: Oxford University Press, 1949). 

16. Wendell Berry, lecture at Northern Arizona University, 1999.

+ + + + +

Sandra B. Lubarsky is professor of religious studies and director of a graduate program on “sustainable communities” at Northern Arizona University. She is author of Tolerance and Transformation: Jewish Approaches to Religious Pluralism (1990) and co-editor (with David Ray Griffin) of Jewish Theology and Process Thought (1996). She has also written numerous essays on Jewish theology.