“A human being becomes whole not in virtue of a relation to himself [only]
but rather in virtue of an authentic relation to another human being.” –Martin Buber
“Faith is not a question of the existence or non-existence of God.
It is believing that love without reward is valuable.” – Emmanuel Levinas
The first time I met Lenny, Dr. Leonard Grob, I asked him what he did. He replied, “I’m a philosopher.” That was the first time anyone ever introduced themselves to me that way and I was quite moved. It was the beginning of a deep friendship, long conversations and many collaborations as activists for peace and justice. Many of our efforts have related to Palestine/Israel. While we often find points of difference in our perspectives, we always have maintained mutual admiration, respect and love in our ongoing relationship.
My most recent conversation with Lenny was recorded for my YouTube channel and Podcast series “Crossing the Boundary.” It’s called, “Philosopher – Activist: Dr. Leonard Grob.” I hope you take some time and watch or listen. Lenny is a deep thinker and while in his mid-eighties, continues to be very active in working to help transform our world to a more just and loving place.
Lenny has a long resume of activities and writings. He is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, New Jersey, where he served for most of his career as Chairperson of Philosophy Studies and Director of the University’s nationally-recognized University Core Program in the Humanities. As an activist, he is vice president of Partners for Progressive Israel and has been active for decades in Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.
Earlier in his career Dr .Grob published extensively in the areas of the philosophy of dialogue and peace studies, focusing in particular on the philosophy of Martin Buber and Emmanuel Levinas. He is the co-editor of two anthologies based on Buber’s philosophy.
A journey to Ukraine to uncover the history of the destruction of his father’s family during the Holocaust led him to the study of genocide, a focal point of his research during the second half of his career. The Nazis killed all the members of his fathers immediate family in Poland. He has said, “Speaking about the lessons of the Holocaust and striving to make the world a better place is a way of memorializing the dead, particularly my own grandparents and other members of my fathers family.”
As a Holocaust scholar he has been the principle organizer of international conferences and forums on the subject. He is the author or co-author of numerous books and articles, several of which focus on the lessons we can learn from the Holocaust in relationship to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the issue of torture, ethics, Jewish-Christian-Muslim dialogue, women’s and mens liberation, genocide, the use of power, and his most recent book with Dr. John Roth, Warnings – The Holocaust, Ukraine, and Endangered American Democracy.
The phrase “Never again” has meant, for many in the Jewish community, “never allow Jews to be persecuted again.” Dr. Grob has shared with me his view that this is a mistake. The phrase should refer to all people. We need to dedicate ourselves to preventing the persecution or genocide of any group. And that would include Palestinians.
While many steeped in Holocaust studies have become staunch, unquestioning defenders of Israel, Lenny has taken a different direction. He is active with Partners for Progressive Israel and is a very active participant in an NGO committed to the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In that role, he is currently bringing peace proposals to ambassadors and their deputies at UN missions. The underlying principle is that in any just solution, both Palestinians and Jewish people in the land must be valued equally and have equal rights.
Lenny describes his politics as derived from the teachings of Martin Buber and Emmanuel Levinas. In my admittedly very limited understanding, these philosophers exhort us to live as though our relations with others define us, and only love will save us. I know from my experience with him, that Lenny applies this not just to politics, but to his relations with family, community and friends. I am happy to be one of them.
Please check out our conversation and explore my conversations with others who have crossed boundaries and are making the world a better place.
Peace and blessings,
YouTube talk with Lenny Grob: https://youtu.be/D3JKJa1Y8f4?si=CCynMFwl0tMUVrhR
Audio podcast with Lenny: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1827447/13580818
Below are some of the publications Lenny has authored or co-authored.
Warnings: The Holocaust, Ukraine, and Endangered American Democracy by Leonard Grob and John K. Roth | Jul 6, 2023
Encountering the Stranger: A Jewish-Christian-Muslim Trialogue (Stephen S. Weinstein Series in Post-Holocaust Studies) by Leonard Grob and John K. Roth | Jan 3, 2013
Losing Trust in the World: Holocaust Scholars Confront Torture (Stephen S. Weinstein Series in Post-Holocaust Studies) by Leonard Grob and John K. Roth
Teen Voices from the Holy Land: Who Am I to You? by Mahmoud Watad and Leonard Grob | May 1, 2007
Education for Peace: Testimonies from World Religions by Haim Gordon and Leonard Grob | Jan 1, 1987
Anguished Hope: Holocaust Scholars Confront the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict by Leonard Grob and John K. Roth | Aug 20, 2008
Women’s and Men’s Liberation: Testimonies of Spirit (Contributions in Philosophy) by Haim Gordon, Leonard M. Grob, et al.