Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist to Speak at Kol Shalom

The Jewish Identity Institute at Kol Shalom Congregation welcomes Mr. Thomas Friedman, a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner and a weekly columnist for The New York Times, to discuss how his Jewish identity guides his career.

Kol Shalom Congregation of Rockville (9110 Darnestown Road, Rockville, MD, 20850) announced today the next lecture in its Jewish Identity Institute series, set for Wednesday, March 11: “How Ideas Can Heal or Destroy: A Conversation with Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist Thomas Friedman.

This event, which explores the Jewish value of critical thinking in pursuing emet (“truth”), will be held from 7:30 – 9:00 p.m. at Kol Shalom Congregation and will feature Thomas L. Friedman, a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner and a weekly columnist for The New York Times.

Throughout his career, Mr. Friedman has used the power of ideas and words to influence public opinion, writing extensively on foreign affairs, global trade, the Middle East, globalization, and environmental issues. 

“I live by Marie Curie’s motto that ‘now is the time to understand more so that we may fear less.’ I see my job as a columnist as helping people understand more so that they may fear less at a time when making people confused, ignorant, and frightened is a core business model for some news organizations and many politicians,” said Mr. Thomas Friedman.

“Critical thinking is a skill that is sorely lacking in today’s public discourse. Thomas Friedman exemplifies the type of Jewish leader and thinker who uses his or her intellect to bridge the divide between dissenting opinions,” said Rabbi Gil Steinlauf, Senior Rabbi of Kol Shalom Congregation and founder of The Jewish Identity Institute. “Mr. Friedman regularly demonstrates a quality that flows from a Jewish place: that authentic leadership means looking critically at the world and evaluating and clarifying issues we all face as human beings.”

Like the Talmud from which he draws inspiration, Mr. Friedman challenges his readers to evaluate their world logically. As a journalist, he routinely examines dissenting views, seeks proof for his claims, and strives to understand the connection between ideas and opinions. 

“I am a reporter at heart and believe that talking to another human being is data,” Mr. Friedman said. “I practice the tried and true principle of ‘chavruta,’ — studying the Talmud with a partner, or, in my case studying the world with many partners — as my main tool of learning.”

The Jewish Identity Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit speaker series that explores Jewish identity and leadership. Attendees get unprecedented access to renowned global thought-leaders, who share how they use Judaism as a tool for personal and professional development. In previous installments to the series, attendees have benefited from the insights of trailblazers such as former Ambassador Dennis Ross, leading expert on U.S. involvement in the Middle East peace process, and U.S. Congressman Jamie Raskin. 

“The Jewish Identity Institute provides equal parts inspiration and motivation, an invitation for Jews to seize the power of possibility,” Rabbi Steinlauf said. “By applying Jewish tradition and values to modern social issues, we are empowering our community to become more active leaders.”

In particular, the speaker-series encourages Kol Shalom members and guests alike to forge enriching social connections around intellectual discussions. Through The Jewish Identity Institute, Kol Shalom will explore the Jewish identities, yearnings, expectations, and needs of multiple generations and backgrounds.

“The Jewish Identity Institute helps fulfill Kol Shalom’s namesake vision of ‘One Voice’ that speaks to each human being in our community in the myriad of voices that speak to each one of us,” says Rabbi Gil Steinlauf. “Our journey through this year will be filled with opportunities to engage and connect with Jewish life and community in multiple ways.”

In his talk “How Ideas Can Heal or Destroy,” Mr. Friedman will explore Jewish intellectual leadership as it relates to the Jewish pursuit of emet (truth) and the resistance of sheker (falsehood). The cost is $18/person. Each installment in the speaker series is independent but designed to add greater context to the theme of Jewish identity. The Jewish Identity Institute, along with being perfect for anyone with a working Jewish knowledge, also welcomes those wanting an informal way to explore their Jewish identity.

“We hope that you will join us by listening for the Voice at Kol Shalom that calls to you,” said Rabbi Steinlauf. “We look forward to your adding your voice to the on-going Torah that we will discover together.”

Please contact Deb Finkelstein, Executive Director (deb@kolshalom.com or 301-309-9110), for more details. Please visit the Kol Shalom website to register for the event.

About Kol Shalom Congregation 

Located at 9110 Darnestown Rd, Rockville, MD, 20850, Kol Shalom is an egalitarian community of Jews committed to the continuity of the Jewish people and traditional Jewish observance as a guide to full participation in American society and the modern world. We strive for spiritual growth through prayer, Torah study, and practice of Mitzvot. 

Contact: Deb Finkelstein, Executive Director

Phone: (301) 309-9110

Email: deb@kolshalom.com

Address: 9110 Darnestown Rd, Rockville, MD 20850