Jeffrey Dekro and Phyllis Taylor both draw inspiration from their Jewish faith to fight for civil rights and other social justice movements. They answer questions from Fresh Air listeners about the contrasting trends of Jewish assimilation into mainstream American culture and a growing number of devout and practicing Jews.
Brad Allison is an Evangelical pastor in Philadelphia. John Gordon became a Christian in college. His scholarship led him away from religious fundamentalism. He is now the chaplain at Albright College. The two religious leaders speak with Fresh Air listeners about their faith.
Fresh Air broadcasts a special feature produce for the month of October called On This Side of Paradise. The miniseries focuses on the state of religion in America today. The first installment features stories of people who converted to Christianity during their adult lives.
Cal Thomas is the Vice-President for Communications of the Moral Majority. The Moral Majority was funded by Jerry Falwell and a coalition of pastors, priests, and rabbis in June of 1979. Thomas describes the group as a political organization dedicated to addressing the "erosion of traditional values" and the social problems the group believes results from the abandonment of "Judeo-Christian values." Thomas writes the group's daily radio commentary, material for its monthly newspaper, and serves as a spokesman for the organization.
John Zogby is the National Field Representative of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. The organization was founded in 1980 and opposes discrimination, ethnic slurs, and racism directed against Arabs. The group has protested advertisements, newspaper cartoons, and press coverage, and has lobbied Congress regarding Israel's invasion of Lebanon. Zogby is of Lebanese descent, and lives in Central New York, where he is involved in local politics and worked as a professor of political science and history.
John Cage is an avant-garde musician known for his "chance compositions," which use "found" sounds. His music mixes Eastern philosophy with Western high-technology. Cage is also an expert on mushrooms. In celebration of his birthday, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is putting on an exhibition of his scores, "John Cage: Scores & Prints." Cage joins the show to discuss his art and philosophy.
Writer and rabbi Chaim Potok is best known for his novels. However, he served as the Secretary of the Writings Committee of the Jewish Publication Society Committee of Scholars. The group has been working since 1957 on a new translation of the Old Testament, and the third volume was just published. Potok joins the show to discuss the process of translating the scriptures and the differences from more familiar translations.
Mayron started in the theater before moving on to film and television. Her role in the movie Girlfriends led to more difficult roles like the television version of Arthur Miller's play Playing for Time, about the Holocaust, and Costa-Gravas' controversial film Missing.
The author's newest book draws on his experiences as an Army chaplain during the Korean War. He discusses the impact war has on faith, as well as the allure the mystical tradition of Cabala has for some Jews.
The Pennsylvania Democrat works to counteract the policy positions of the moral majority. He sees hope in the rise of prominent moderate Republicans to steer the direction of the Reagan administration toward less conservative economic and foreign policy decisions. Fresh Air listeners call in with their questions.
Ellen Willis is a writer for the the New Yorker. Her collection of essays, "Beginning to See the Light: Pieces of a Decade," covers many of the social and political issues of the last ten years. Feminism, rock music, 60s counter-culture and the backlash against it, the changing definitions of "family" amongst the left, religion, and abortion are covered. She also discovers her reconsidering of Judaism and God in general, after a her brother became Orthodox. She joins the show to discuss the book and its subjects.
Actor, Herschel Bernardi currently stars as Tavia in a production of "Fiddler on the Roof," currently playing at the Academy of Music. He joins the show to discuss his career in theater, film, and television. (INTERVIEW BY DANNY MILLER)
Actor Molly Picon grew up in the Yiddish theater. Her husband Jacob Kalich helped manage her career. She explains how performing for children who survived the Holocaust affected her, and her later experiences in film.
Robert Klein is one of the forerunners of the current stand-up comedy boom. His 1973 album "Child of the 50s" established him as one the leading comics of the baby boomer generation. Klein grew up in the Bronx and honed his skill in the improvisation troupe Second City.