Last night our organization, This World: The Values Network, hosted a fascinating discussion entitled, “Values to Heal America” featuring Prof. Elie Wiesel, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Dr. Mehmet Oz, America’s doctor, and Mayor Cory Booker of Newark.
What an event it turned out to be! Truly, one of the finest dialogues I have ever been involved with. I structured the evening by presenting to the panelists with the seven greatest social ills that I believe are plaguing America. I then offered a Jewish-values based solution to each and asked the panelists to react. We dealt with depression, the terror threat and foreign wars, broken families, materialism and greed, the growing gap between rich and poor, and other pressing concerns.
To have three guests, each of whom is a world-leader in their field, was spectacular and I strongly encourage each of you to go on our websites and watch the full program. The questions from the audience were equally riveting.
John Gosselin, from Jon and Kate Plus 8, joined us in the audience and asked the panelists what were the most important values by which to raise good kids. We alighted upon respect (Oz), setting a good moral example (Booker), and teaching them to love learning (Prof Wiesel). I spoke to Jon publicly about the need to use fame and celebrity to highlight a cause larger than oneself, without which fame can become a curse. He was very receptive and I commend him for having the courage to get up in front of everyone and ask his question. His family clearly needs healing and I have been speaking to him about changes he must make in his life. Again, he is always very receptive. There is much good in him and he has, I believe, a sincere desire to correct the many mistakes he has made as he has been carried away with fame, as have so many others in our culture.
Indeed, the obsession with celebrity was one of the most interesting parts of the conversation and Mehmet Oz said that his wife Lisa, as well as raising four children, keep him grounded amid his own skyrocketing celebrity.
But the greatest treat for all of us was hearing Elie Wiesel, a living legend, share his inspirational wisdom with us. Prof. Wiesel has lectured to my organizations now for twenty years. Each time it is memorable, uplifting, and historic. There is none like him.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is the founder of This World: The Values Network. He has just published ‘The Michael Jackson Tapes: A Tragic Icon Reveals His Soul in Intimate Conversation.” www.shmuley.com.