Rabbi Scott Bolton serves as the spiritual leader of Congregation Or Zarua on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. He served as head of school for two private day schools, before moving into a congregational position. His work in Jewish educational circles includes evaluating texts and preparing curricula that seek to celebrate and engender cultural identity while promoting understanding regarding the dignity of difference. “Educating everyone, from government officials to youth—tomorrow’s leaders—about how to express and take pride in their own heritages and at the same time dignify their neighbors’ is our tallest order,” said Rabbi Bolton.
Prior to his rabbinical work, Bolton worked as a marketing-communications coordinator and educational and governmental affairs writer for the International Association of Fire Chiefs. Bolton also served as an International Peace Partner in 2002 through a U.S. State Department grant that introduced him to conflict narratives evaluation in Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia. “After learning what genocide looks like and what crimes against humanity mean, leaders must become more self-reflective about the narratives we tell ourselves and those that we teach, ” Rabbi Bolton said, reflecting on why he was drawn to AIPR’s work. He added:
Auschwitz represented a vacuum of humanity for me, before I met the people associated with the Auschwitz Institute. Now, Auschwitz is a site where we are generating hope from the void. Studying the ways that human beings turn murderous against one another lets us figure out how to affirm life and plan civil society in the name of so many victims. The promise of Auschwitz is in focus with the global work being done to prevent genocide and that promotes responsibility for the other. The investment in creating self-reflective practitioners who consider the potential good or evil that governmental or scholastic systems can promote or prevent is essential for our world. It honors local differences while at the same time gathers leaders around a central truth – that we all have an inherent right to life, joy and cultural expression. As individuals learn the important lessons they can from the dark chapters of human history and about crimes that were preventable, I believe that we are better off as global citizens both in the short-term and in the long run.