2015 was a year of double happiness for me. First, I retired—for a second time—and then I got married, for the third and hopefully final time.
I first was married to Vicki Hollander from 1975-1985, then married to Merrily Cordova from 1987 until her death in 2010 and, since 2015, I have been married to Richelle Harrell. I have two living daughters, three sons-in-law and five grandkids, who keep getting bigger while I just keep getting older.
Now that I’m retired, I spend my time writing, doing yoga, exercising and walking with my wife, cooking and taking naps, and being active in various causes.
Immediately prior to retirement I was program manager of the Interreligious Initiative at Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry and an adjunct professor there and with the Department of Theology and Religious Studies.
Previously I had worked as grants and contracts coordinator for the Jewish Family Service of Seattle, as a bereavement chaplain with Kline Galland Hospice, as interim rabbi at Congregation Kol HaNeshamah in West Seattle, and as executive director of the Seattle chapter of the American Jewish Committee and of Multifaith Works, a Seattle non-profit agency that provided housing and services to people living with AIDS. At the start of my career in Seattle, I directed the Seattle Jewish Federation’s Community Relations Council and its Washington Association of Jewish Communities. Rabbi Yitz Greenberg gave me my first job, back when I lived in New York, when his organization was called the Center for Learning and Leadership (CLAL).
In 1973-74, I participated in the first Canada–China Student Exchange Programme and lived in Beijing towards the end of the Cultural Revolution, and then in 1974-75 spent a year in Israel in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War—but those life-changing experiences are stories for another place and time.
I have a BA, summa cum laude, from York University in Toronto, where I majored in Chinese Studies; a Masters of Hebrew Letters (MHL) and rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati; a Masters in Not-for-Profit Leadership (MNPL) from Seattle University; and an honorary Doctorate in Divinity from Hebrew Union College.
I currently serve as President of the Sino-Judaic Institute and edit its journal Points East. I am also president of Northwest Interfaith and active with Paths to Understanding, End of Life Washington, Kol HaNeshamah, J Street and the New Israel Fund.
I am the author of The Mystery of Suffering and the Meaning of God: Autobiographical and Theological Reflections (Wipf and Stock, 2019), co-editor with Jordan Paper of The Chinese Jews of Kaifeng: A Millennium of Adaptation and Endurance (Lexington, 2017), co-author with Dan Bridge, of The Animals’ Lawsuit Against Humanity (Fons Vitae, 2005), and author of the cult classic Arguing with God: A Jewish Tradition (Jason Aronson, 1998). I also have authored over seventy articles on subjects ranging from Jewish theology to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the Chinese Jews.
My current work in progress is a novel (Doesn’t everyone have one in them?): The Aboab Manuscript or The Eleventh Commandment. Disguised as a simple animal rights fable, the manuscript contains a direly prophetic message about the environment, but one that also is potentially transformative for humanity. This fable is borne for over a millennium by members of the Aboab clan as they traveled from Jerusalem to Spain and then Holland, through to modern times.