Rabbi Daniel Polish: 'I thrive on challenge'
of Rabbi David Polish, a leading figure in the
His idol was Clarence Darrow, "whom I
saw as a sort of socialist-activist lawyer,"
Rabbi Polish says. "That's what I imagined
I would be doing."
But as he grew older, Rabbi Polish found
his Judaism so compelling he opted to in-
clude it in his career plans.
So he decided to become the next
Clarence Darrow and teach Torah.
As he became more active in the Jewish
community, Rabbi Polish "came to the
awareness that what I really like and what
I really wanted to do were the things in fact
that a rabbi does."
So, like any good Reform Jewish boy who
wants to become a rabbi, he attended
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of
Religion, from which he holds a master's
degree in Hebrew Letters.
He also earned a Ph.D. in religious
history in 1973 from Harvard.
After he graduated from Harvard, Rab-
bi Polish served as education director of the
Interfaith Metropolitan Theological Educa-
tion, where he worked on numerous inter-
faith programs, and as associate executive
director of the Synagogue Council of
America in Washington, D.C.
He feels strongly about interfaith pro-
grams — just as he feels strongly about work-
ing with Conservative and Orthodox Jews.
"I've always believed in the importance
of Klal Yisrael," he says.
Don't try to pin Rabbi Polish down on one
issue. He feels strongly about many of them.
He speaks of relations between Jews and
Muslims, Catholics and blacks. He looks for
the ties that bind.
Jews and Muslims "share a signigificant
common historical heritage," he says.
While working in Washington, Rabbi
Polish was involved in a forum in which
Muslims, Christians and Jews "talked to
each other — or tried to talk to each other."
Last spring, he traveled to Poland to
meet with Catholic bishops. He is co-editor
of The Formation of Social Policy in the
Jewish and Catholic Traditions, published
by Notre Dame University Press.
And of blacks and Jews he says, "We're
sister communities, and more similar than
abbi Polish held his first position
in a synagogue while living in
Washington. At the same time
he was working at the Syna-
gogue Council, he served part-time
as rabbi of Ibmple Beth Ami in Potomac, Md.
The congregation increased from 70 to
350 families under Rabbi Polish's leadership.
In 1981, he was named senior rabbi at
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