Interreligious Bridges and Barriers

My passion for interreligious engagement1 is due in no
small measure to my family’s journeys. I am the grandson
of immigrants who fled persecution in Eastern Europe
and settled in Chicago. Their contacts with Christian neighbors were limited
and not especially positive. As youngsters growing up in Chicago, my
parents learned firsthand about anti-Semitism and the dangers of taking
shortcuts through unfriendly neighborhoods.
I grew up in a middle-class Chicago suburb with both Christian and


This is the story of one Jewish family's confrontation with the Holocaust--a Sephardic family from the Island of Rhodes.

Sephardic Haskalah

From the second half of the nineteenth century, Haskalah ideas filtered into the Sephardic communities in Muslim lands, especially through the efforts of the schools of the Alliance Israelite Universelle—bastions of French culture. The influence of European colonial powers in North Africa and the Middle East was also an important factor in Sephardic intellectual life. The impact of the Haskalah could not be altogether ignored.