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Craig Wiesner
Craig Wiesner
Craig Wiesner is the co-founder of Reach And Teach, the peace and social justice learning company.

Afghans Search for Realistic Alternatives


by: on May 23rd, 2012 | 4 Comments »

School in AfghanistanThose who know the Reach And Teach story know that a significant reason we do what we do today is because of the experience we had in Afghanistan in 2002. Having witnessed the horrible destruction from 30 years of civil war coupled with the massive bombing campaign waged by the US and its allies after the September 11th attacks, we knew that the people we met were weary of violence being the only solution to their problems.

Sadly, 10 years later, violence still rages on.

It breaks our hearts when we hear people say that Afghans are simply a violent people. We disagree. Afghans, we believe, are like the vast majority of people, wanting to live in peace, raise families, work with dignity, be treated fairly, and have opportunities for joy. We also know that Afghans have their own history of nonviolence and we were heartened to see this story in the Waging Nonviolence newsletter about groups of Afghans working to find ways to change the situation in their country, through nonviolent means.

We’d like to share the following hopeful story of seeds being planted in Afghanistan, in fields that perhaps have been too long dry, but which nonetheless can bear fruit, with a little water, love and support. Having “Realistic Alternatives” in the title also made us think about Rabbi Michael Lerner’s constant reminder to us all that being “realistic” isn’t necessarily a good thing! So, as you read this, realize that few would have thought it “realistic” for Afghans to gather together to attend a nonviolent workshop. Yet… they did.

Our thanks to Waging Nonviolence for allowing us to repost this story (which you can also read on their web site).


musings: desconocido


by: on March 22nd, 2012 | 5 Comments »

Friend and prophet Rev. Jim Burklo shares his thoughts on a quite powerful border experience in his latest “musing.” I’m honored that he lets me share this with all of you on Tikkun Daily. Click here to visit his blog site, Musings.


A small wooden cross stands next to a cholla cactus in the desert of southern Arizona. Across it is written a word in Spanish: DESCONOCIDO. In English, it means “unknown”.

To get to it, I and seven students from the University of Southern California trekked from a dirt road through a mile and a half of rough country. Every one of us was scraped by spines of cacti or spikes of mesquite branches. We slipped on stones, slid on sand. All of us sipped regularly from our water bottles as the mid-day sun and the arid air wicked our bodies dry.

The cross marked the spot where bones of a human being were found by a member of the Green Valley Samaritans, a group of volunteers who put gallon jugs of water on trails where migrants cross into the United States from Mexico. The volunteer called the county coroner to retrieve the remains, which so far have not been identified.


Life in an Arizona Classroom


by: on February 24th, 2012 | 2 Comments »

Image Courtesy of Crip - FLICKR

Ever since I heard the news about a law in Arizona prohibiting the teaching of ethnic studies courses in public schools, and banning one of the books we sell (Rethinking Columbus), I’ve been wondering what it was like to be a teacher there. What did enforcement of this new law look like? How were the students reacting? This morning I received this email from Curtis Acosta, who now teaches English (formerly taught Latino Literature) at Tucson High School. His message is heartbreaking and frightening. I asked Mr. Acosta’s permission to share his message with Tikkun Daily’s readers. He agreed.

The question that I’d like us to answer is this: What do we do about it? At the end of his letter, I’ll provide context about the law that is at the root of this situation and ask that question again. What do we do?


And They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love?


by: on February 21st, 2012 | 1 Comment »

President Obama at the National Prayer BreakfastAs a Jew in the pew for the last two decades, I think I’ve gotten a pretty good sense of what being “Christian” means. Most of that experience has been gained in the midst of a particular group of Christians who believe that their actions, the way they live their lives, speak much louder than any words. But it is also a church where the pastors follow the lectionary most Sundays, meaning that those gathered are hearing exactly the same scripture readings from the Bible that most other Christians are hearing on those same Sundays. Frankly, from my two decades of listening to those passages, the message is pretty clear to this possibly distant relative of a nice Jewish boy from Nazareth. To be a Christian means that you are called to follow “the way” that Jesus lived. Feed the poor, clothe the naked, love thy neighbor…. and they’ll know you are Christian by your love by your love.


Hansel and Gretel and Israel/Palestine


by: on January 25th, 2012 | 10 Comments »

Hansel and Gretel

Illustration by Arthur Rackham, 1909

Children have been told horror stories for as long as storytelling has existed. Should a child become traumatized hearing a story like Hansel and Gretel, where the witch plans to throw the children into the oven to make a nice meal, parents can tell the child not to worry, “That’s just a fairy tale. Things like that don’t really happen.” But they do.


How I Make Meaning of Life: A Musing by Jim Burklo


by: on January 18th, 2012 | Comments Off

Self Portrait

Self Portrait

Sometimes in the midst of the mundane or the profane of the day, I find myself musing about the meaning of it all. My friend Rev. Jim Burklo just sent along his latest musing, and while it doesn’t answer all the questions about life, the universe, and everything, it did bring a smile to my face and some peace to my morning. May it do some of the same for you too. Read on!


Classroom Ethnic Cleansing in Tucson


by: on January 16th, 2012 | 1 Comment »

Rethinking Columbus

In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue, it was a courageous thing to do, but someone was already here... Something you'd know, unless you live in Tucson in 2012

It’s Martin Luther King Day and we should all be thinking about progress we’ve made on King’s dream. Well… this morning I woke up to more of a bit of a sad vision of at least one part of America. My friend Nancy Schimmel sent me a note this morning to let me know that Tucson, Arizona, in order to avoid losing lots of money in state school funding, has ordered certain books to be banned from classrooms in order to be in compliance with the state’s new “ethnic cleansing” rules (my phrase for what they refer to as the elimination of ethnic studies).

According to Bill Bigelow of Rethinking Schools (at Salon.com), “By ordering teachers to remove ‘Rethinking Columbus,’ the Tucson school district has shown tremendous disrespect for teachers and students.” “This is a book that has sold over 300,000 copies and is used in school districts from Anchorage to Atlanta, and from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine. It offers teaching strategies and readings that teachers can use to help students think about the perspectives that are too often silenced in the traditional curriculum.”

My company, Reach And Teach, has sold many copies of Rethinking Columbus. The thought that this book, and Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” are being banned from Tucson schools boggles my mind.


There’s Something They’re Not Telling Us… President Signs Indefinite Detention Law


by: on January 5th, 2012 | 8 Comments »

Obama SigningWhen I first heard about Congress adding a provision to a Defense Authorization bill that would allow for the U.S. MILITARY to arrest and indefinitely detain American citizens, without trial, just for being suspected of supporting anyone who was “engaged in hostilities against the United States,” I assumed it was just the work of some whacky right-winger who knew that the language didn’t have a chance of surviving the first round of mark-ups in conference committee. When the Senate and House overwhelmingly voted for the bill, with the President signing it in the dead of night when no one was looking, it struck me that something very strange was happening, and so far, no one has offered a serious explanation of why this bill came to be and is now law.


Press Release: The Virgin of Guadalupe Speaks (a Musing by Jim Burklo)


by: on December 19th, 2011 | 1 Comment »

From my friend the Rev. Jim Burklo, of the Center for Progressive Christianity, a musing.

Press Release: The Virgin of Guadalupe Speaks
For immediate release

At a press conference in Los Angeles, CA, La Virgen de Guadalupe, on the 480th anniversary of her apparition in Mexico, suddenly appeared, held up on a crescent by a little cherubic angel. With brilliant effulgence surrounding her, she declared her independence from the Catholic Church specifically and from the Christian religion as a whole. “I belong to all humanity,” she declared. “No exceptions!”


Questioning General Authority (a Musing by Jim Burklo)


by: on November 8th, 2011 | 1 Comment »

Our friend Rev. Jim Burklo (Center for Progressive Christianity) just visited the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  His visit is chronicled in this latest musing that I found fascinating and wonderful, especially what happened at the very end… (read on).