“Who is wise? He who learns from all people.”
Rabbi Bruce Dollin has served as the Hebrew Educational Alliance’s rabbi since August, 1994. Before moving to Denver, he served as the spiritual leader of Adath Shalom in Dover, New Jersey for eight years. Rabbi Dollin received rabbinical ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1986, receiving a master’s degree in Judaica at the same time. He spent a year in Israel studying at Hebrew University in Jerusalem from 1982 to 1983. The rabbi holds a bachelor’s degree in Judaic literature from the University of Judaism, and completed his undergraduate studies in psychology at the University of Santa Clara. Rabbi Dollin is an active member of the Rocky Mountain Rabbinical Council and serves on the boards of the Central Agency for Jewish Education and the Jewish Community Center. He and his wife, Tammy Dollin, have four children, Yonaton, Yeshai, Akiva, and Aviva.
Q. What changes are others noticing about you?
A. As a young man, I believed people were basically good and that evil was caused by confused individuals who could be changed with attention and good will. I do not believe this anymore. Since 9/11, I see most people as good but some are clearly evil, capable of killing the innocent for their own twisted reasons. Now I am a bit more skeptical of people’s intentions, but also more forgiving of bad behavior, as I come to understand that living in this world is a great challenge for everyone.
Q. What is the greatest challenge facing society?
A. I see three major challenges. The first is religious extremism. I fear people who see their view of God and the world as correct and all others interpretations as wrong. Piety begins with humility, which helps us see that we have only a partial understanding of the truth. I cannot grasp how someone can justify killing in God’s name.
The other challenges are narcissism and materialism. Our sacred texts instruct, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I?” We do not have problems “being for ourselves.” We do face significant problems being “only for ourselves.” We place too much emphasis on wealth and not enough on giving. Meaning in life relates to how much we give—in our friendships, marriages, and parental roles. I once met a philanthropist who said that if he could, he would give away everything and die penniless. Our society needs more people like that.
For the rest of the interview, please check out the book, Seek The Lover Within: Lessons from 50 Spiritual Leaders.