Brad Hirschfield

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Brad Hirschfield (born 1963)[1] is a rabbi, author and the president of CLAL–The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. Hirschfield was ranked three years in a row in Newsweek as one of America's "50 Most Influential Rabbis"[2][3] and recognized as a leading “Preacher & Teacher” by


Hirschfield received his rabbinical ordination from the Institute of Traditional Judaism.[4][5] He received his M.A. and M. Phil from the Jewish Theological Seminary, a Conservative institution, and his B.A. from the University of Chicago. He self-identifies as an Orthodox rabbi.[6][7]

Hirschfield was raised in a secular Jewish home but began to pursue a more traditionally observant life as a teenager thus becoming a baal teshuva. He moved to Israel and became involved with a settler group near Hebron. Becoming disenchanted with this approach, he returned to the United States, where he met and worked for Orthodox rabbi and CLAL founder Irving Greenberg. He went on to pursue his own rabbinical studies, and became a proponent of interfaith dialogue and pluralist attitudes.[1][8][9]

Hirschfield is a current co-president of CLAL–The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, which describes itself as "a leadership training institute, think tank and resource center committed to religious pluralism and the healthier use of religion in American public life."[7]

in 2002 Hirschfield was featured on ABC's Nightline UpClose,[10] and PBS's Frontline: Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero[11] In 2009 he was interviewed on the National Public Radio program Tell Me More,[12] and in 2010 for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's The Spirit of Things hosted by Rachael Kohn.[13]


Hirschfield is the editor of Remember for Life: Holocaust Survivors’ Stories of Faith and Hope [14] and a co-author of Embracing Life & Facing Death: A Jewish Guide to Palliative Care.[15] In 2008 he published You Don’t Have To Be Wrong For Me To Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism,[16] described by a reviewer in The Christian Century as "a breathtaking treatise on the perils of rigid religious behavior".[17]

Hirschfield conceived and hosts two series for Bridges TV, an American Muslim television network: Building Bridges: Abrahamic Perspectives on the World Today (three seasons)[18][19] and American Pilgrimage.[20] With his CLAL co-president Irwin Kula he co-hosts a weekly radio show called Hirschfield and Kula on KXL in Portland, Oregon.[21][22]

Hirschfield writes a column, "For God’s Sake," for the Washington Post’s On Faith section.[23] He writes the "Windows and Doors" blog for Beliefnet, where he is featured as a "Preacher and Teacher." He is a regular commentator on ethical issues for truTV.

He was featured, along with students and professors from the University of Oklahoma religious studies program, in a documentary entitled, Freaks Like Me, on the subject of religion in the age of terrorism.[24][25]

Public positions[edit]

Hirschfield has expressed concern on the lifting of the excommunication of bishop Richard Williamson, a member of the Society of Saint Pius X.[26]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b Adam Phillips, "Brad Hirschfield Brings Style to Interfaith Activism: Influential New York rabbi hosts a weekly talk show on an American Muslim TV network to encourage religious inclusiveness, tolerance" Archived June 14, 2010, at the Wayback Machine., Voice of America, December 10, 2009.
  2. ^ "50 Influential Rabbis", Newsweek, April 30, 2009.
  3. ^ ""The Top 50 Rabbis in America"". Archived from the original on 2007-04-22. Retrieved 2010-06-17. , Newsweek, April 2, 2007.
  4. ^ Johanna Ginsberg, "A rabbi’s journey to tolerance", New Jersey Jewish News, January 31, 2008.
  5. ^ by Menachem Wecker, "A rabbi and an imam walked into a coffee shop ...Dialogue focuses on faith without fanaticism" Archived August 11, 2011, at the Wayback Machine., Washington Jewish Week, January 16, 2008.
  6. ^ Brad Hirschfield official website (accessed June 17, 2010).
  7. ^ a b "Clal Faculty: Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership website, February 27, 2010 (accessed June 17, 2010).
  8. ^ Amy Klein, "Ex-JDL member urges faith without fanaticism", Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, February 28, 2008.
  9. ^ Carla Hinton, "Noted rabbi’s book gets positive reaction from UCO", The Oklahoman, November 21, 2009.
  10. ^ "Nightline UpClose: Brad Hirschfield"[permanent dead link], December 26, 2002 (accessed June 17, 2010).
  11. ^ "Interview Rabbi Brad Hirschfield", interview for Frontline program Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero (2002), interview conducted winter 2002 (accessed June 19, 2010).
  12. ^ "Rabbi Teaches Hope In Trying Times", Tell Me More, January 9, 2009 (accessed June 17, 2010).
  13. ^ "You Don't Have To Be Wrong For Me To Be Right", The Spirit of Things (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), February 21, 2010 (accessed June 17, 2010).
  14. ^ Remember for Life: Holocaust Survivors’ Stories of Faith and Hope (The Jewish Publication Society, 2007), ISBN 978-0-8276-0875-7. Excerpts available at Google Books.
  15. ^ Embracing Life & Facing Death: a Jewish Guide to Palliative Care (CLAL, 1992), ISBN 978-0-9633329-0-5. Official book page at CLAL website.
  16. ^ You Don't Have to Be Wrong for Me to Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism (Harmony Books, 2008; reprint ed., Random House, Inc., 2009), ISBN 978-0-307-38298-6. Excerpts available at Google Books.
  17. ^ Peter W. Marty, "Big enough God", The Christian Century, January 13, 2009 (review of You Don't Have to Be Wrong for Me to Be Right).
  18. ^ Steve Lipman, "'McLaughlin' Meets 'God Squad'", The Jewish Week, November 10, 2006.
  19. ^ Jacob Berkman, "Muslim TV launches interfaith show" Archived June 7, 2011, at the Wayback Machine., Jewish Telegraphic Agency, November 14, 2006.
  20. ^ "Talk Shows" Archived July 11, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. at Bridges TV website (accessed June 18, 2010).
  21. ^ "Prominent rabbis to speak in Tucson on faith", Arizona Daily Star, March 7, 2008.
  22. ^ Hirschfield & Kula: Intelligent Talk Radio official website.
  23. ^ "For God's Sake: The Uses and Abuses of Religion in Politics and Pop Culture" index at Washington Post website.
  24. ^ Eileen E. Flynn, "Film examines religious diversity, duality of faith", Austin American-Statesman, March 13, 2005 (pay site).
  25. ^ Freaks Like Me at CLAL website.
  26. ^ Pope Benedict: Panderer or Creative Community Builder?