Episode 23: The Science of Depolarization (Interview with Rabbi Roly Matalon)

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Social transformation.

Society builders.

Society builders with your host, Duane Varan.

(Duane) Welcome to Society Builders, and thanks for

joining the conversation for Social Transformation.

Communities of faith often play a critical

role in the path to depolarization.

Depolarization requires us to transcend the

emotional reactions that drive us against

those we see as outsiders.

And this business of transcending our

base instincts is something that a

person's faith can greatly help facilitate.

Now, we all know that religious communities

are frequently the catalysts, feeding polarization, an

embarrassing stain on the reputation of religion.

So we're not denying this today.

But by the same token, we should recognize

religion's power to get us to transcend ourselves.

And there are numerous examples of how

communities of faith contribute to depolarization, often

in the face of impossible odds.

Here we see the example of the

Baha'i community in Iran contributing to their

best capacity to the societies around them,

despite facing the highest levels of persecution.

But naturally, this kind of depolarization is

not something limited to Baha'i communities alone.

It's something which many

communities of faith champion.

So today we're going to explore this all

a little further, and we're going to do

this through the example of a remarkable leader.

Today's episode features my interview with rabbi Roly

Matalon, the senior rabbi of the B'nai Jeshuran

Jewish community in New York City.

The second oldest Jewish congregation in New York.

He's the recipient of numerous awards, both in

recognition for his contributions to Jewish community life,

but also for his contributions to human rights.

Now, Rabbi Roly features prominently in Amanda Ripley's

book 'High Conflict', but I think you'll enjoy

hearing his story directly from him.

It sets a remarkable example of how

communities of faith can engage with depolarization.

I interviewed Rabbi Rowley some months ago, before the current

conflict in Gaza, and what I think you're going to

enjoy in particular is the story of how he facilitated

an exchange with member of his congregations who are strong

liberal progressives, to live with deep red Trump supporters from

a prison union in Michigan.

It's such an amazing and moving story.

So today we feature an interview with

Rabbi Roly Matalon and explore how he

helped his congregation engage with depolarization.

Rabbi Rowley.

Welcome to society, builders.

(Roly) My pleasure, Duane.

Thank you so much for asking me to participate in

this with you and be part of this conversation.

(Duane) Rabbi Roly, you've had such an amazing

impact on the revitalization of Jewish synagogue

life and received so many awards, and

you've done so many interesting things.

But one of the most interesting, for me at

least, reading it on the outside, was this initiative

that you did around this idea of depolarization.

What was it that led you to

start grappling with that depolarization issue?

(Roly) So we had conflict in our congregation

around the issue of israel and Palestine.

Our congregation is almost 200 years old.

Our bicentennial will be in 2025 in just (Duane) how exciting.


And it was a very prominent congregation that then

declined back in the late 70s, early 80s,

and it was almost bankrupt, spiritually, financially, physically.

The actual physical synagogue was in great disrepair.

And I had a mentor who was an American rabbi

who had spent 25 years building Jewish community in Argentina.

And that's where I grew up and was born and raised.

And then this rabbi came back for 25

years to be the spiritual leader of this

congregation here in New York City.

And I was finishing my rabbinical studies

here, so I started with him.

And the congregation originally in

its revitalization, was pretty homogeneous.

We're all very progressive.

But then as the congregation grew,

a number of people started joining.

Not necessarily because they agreed with the politics of

the rabbis, or even the majority of the members,

but some people like the music and the prayer

service, and some people had friends in the community

whom they wanted to join.

Some people liked our religious school, and so

they started bringing their kids to religious school.

And not everybody ended up being in

the same ideological camp, particularly as it

pertains to issues of Israel and Palestine.

And at some point around 2012 or 13,

there was a very, very big conflict that

erupted in this congregation around Israel and Palestine.

And many people were very angry and left.

Other people were very angry and stayed.

And we had to figure out a way to bring

the congregation together, not to allow it to break and

to generate some dialogue out of the situation.

So we created an initiative called the Israel

Dialogue Initiative with help from some people who

were experienced in trying to bring people around

and to listen to each other intentionally, to

try to relate to each other with curiosity.

For each other's positions and to be able to

agree, to disagree, but to do so civilly and

calmly and learn ultimately, that disagreements, which there's a

lot of teachings about disagreements in the you know,

our tradition produced the Talmud, which actually is a

creation that took place in Mesopotamia in the first

few centuries of the Common Era complete around the

year 400 and 5500 in today's Iraq and Iran

in that area and the Talmud

It's a work that is based on

debates and disagreements about all sorts of

issues, legal, philosophical, theological, and so on.

And our tradition is very, very

rooted in the tradition of disagreement.

For the sake of truth, for the sake

of getting to some deeper level of truth.

You have to be able to bring people who don't

agree with each other to ultimately try to refine ideas,

to try to refine their views, and so on.

And so our tradition is very, very rich on teachings

about the value of disagreement, not as a negative thing,

but as a positive thing when it's qualified, when it's

for the sake of, for the sake of heaven.

In other words, for the sake of a greater

truth, for the sake of growth, for the sake

of spiritual growth, not for personal gain. Right.

So back to 2012, 13, 14.

We did this process and it was quite successful.

We did trainings in all sorts of

ways with members of the congregation.

Now fast forward a number of years later and

we find ourselves in 2018, and this is already

a couple of years into the Trump presidency.

And the polarization, our country, which existed

before but now is growing deeper and deeper

and it's of great concern.

And we thought, what can we do in order

to be able to contribute in some way to

the repair and the healing of this great gap

and this polarization between people in this country?

And so it just happened that somebody that is

a friend and also somebody with whom we had

done some work in the past year in our

congregation, was doing some consulting work for this union

of correctional officers in Michigan.

It happens that this is a group of

correctional officers who are of a conservative persuasion,

but this union is part of much larger

national union which tends to be progressive.

So they find themselves, these correctional officers, as a

group within a much larger group with which most

of the time they are in disagreement.

And so he was advising, our friend Simon, was

advising this group, and he said, you know, what

would you think of having some sort of an

encounter, conversation, dialogue with these people?

And I said, I'm jumping right in.

It sounds so fascinating.

(Duane) Was it that simple for you?

Weren't you terrified?

(Roly) I was not terrified.

I was fascinated by the idea that

there was an opportunity here to learn. Of course.

I mean, at some point I asked

myself, is it going to work?

Are we going to be screaming at each other?

Who will we encounter?

Are these people who are from another planet? Of course.

And my initial reaction was - absolutely.

Then I started questioning the fascination.

In the beginning I felt very drawn to this

idea, particularly because I also trust this person Simon.

I have great, great regard for him and for his work.

I trust him.

And if this suggestion came from him, there

must be something in here that is valuable.

And so then I had all sorts

of questions. Will it be uncomfortable?

Will there be explosions? What will happen? So on.

(Duane) So what exactly was the proposition?

The proposition was to put together a group of twelve

members of our congregation who would agree to be, first

of all in a preparation process, to then go to

Michigan to some rural areas around Lansing, Michigan and spend

three days there with a group of twelve members of

this union, corrections officers, men and women.

And then they would reciprocate and they would come

here to New York City and stay with us.

We stayed with them and then they would come and

stay with us in New York City and spend a

Shabbat with us and come to our synagogue and get

to know our families and us and so on.

And so what happened is that we formed a group

We actually invited people in the

congregation to apply for this opportunity.

Now remember, this is 2018 and people are

disgusted within our congregation, in particular liberal, progressive

people with people who are Trump supporters.

But a number of people did actually

apply to participate in this encounter.

And we had a number of criteria that we selected.

Twelve members of the congregation, different ages,

different occupations, men, women, and so on.

And we constituted the group and then two

representatives from the Michigan group came to meet

them and talk to them and introduce themselves.

And we did a number of exercises that evening

and then we continued, we did a couple of

sessions to prepare ourselves to go there.

Now, the encounter was mediated

and was very structured.

It was guided by Simon and another

person that was working with him.

And so we left Sunday morning, we got to

Michigan and we got to Lansing and we met

the group and we had our first session there.

And then we shared a meal together and

then we went to the different homes.

I'll tell you my experience.

I was with the head of the union.

I met in his, I think at the time in his

early fifties, and he was a corrections officer.

And we drove from the first gathering

that had concluded with a meal.

We drove to his home about 45 minutes.

He told me his story in the

car and it was incredibly moving.

I mean, he's a very wonderful man, very

spiritual man with a lot of integrity.

We got to his home, he introduced

me to his family, to his wife.

We talks for a while and then we went to sleep.

We had gotten up very early that day, and the

next day we met in small groups for breakfast.

So myself and my host and a couple of other

people at their hosts, and we had a conversation in

small groups for breakfast, and then we met as a

large group and then we went to visit their workplace.

And I had been in prison more than once.

I visited people in jail as a rabbi.

I visited people in jail for many years, but

I was in the jail in the visiting room.

I had never been to where people are

jailed and where the inmates where they are.

This visit was into a jail

that actually had been decommissioned.

It was no longer a jail, but many

of them had worked in that place.

So they took us everywhere.

There were no inmates there.

And then they told us what their job was like.

We all began to understand something that

we have never been exposed to before.

I never knew what corrections officers do,

prison guards, and what they are exposed

to, what they're dealing with.

I never heard anybody tell the story of what

goes through their mind, what decisions they make, what's

their relationship with their inmates in the jail.

It was fascinating.

It was moving.

It was deeply human.

And so we got to understand their lives a little bit.

There were a little window into their lives,

and I would think all these people are

disgusting, are animals, they are racist.

And you begin to, in many ways, to shed all

these prejudices and all these preconceived ideas and begin to

understand human beings, why they end up doing that work.

Of course, it's something that people in our circles, in

my congregation, our circles, we would never choose to do

something like that, but they begin to understand why people

make those choices, sometimes forced by life circumstances where they

live and so on and so forth.

And then we met with their families.

We learned about their lives.

We talked about religion, their religious ideas.

It was really fascinating.

Some of them are 'preppers'.

You know what preppers are? People who first of

all, most of them have weapons in their homes.

One of the members of the group was

hosting two members of my congregation had, like,

70 to 80 weapons in their home.

(Duane) Wow, 70 to 80.

It's a lot of weapons! (Roly) Some of them were heirlooms.

It's a lot of weapons!

Heirlooms. Things that they acquired.

I mean, like different types of weapons.

A lot of these people are into weapons.

Many of them hunt, and some of them

are preppers - are people who are getting ready

for if there's some sort of a war

in America or revolution or some natural disaster.

They have bunkers and basements with all sorts of

provisions and food and weapons and all sorts of

things that they need for a potential catastrophe.

Even the idea that the government

might turn against its citizens, right?

So the reason many of them have weapons is that

because they feel that one day the government may turn

against them and begin to persecute its own citizens.

And so something that I never thought

about - I don't think about that.

And, you know, believe in America, something

like that would happen, but they believe

it will happen or it may happen.

So all sorts of things.

It was the time of the Muslim

ban, so we talked about Muslims.

We talked about abortion and birth control.

We talked about immigration.

There was no issue that was not on the table, and

everything was sort of in conversations that it was control.

We were not screaming at each other.

We were looking at newspaper articles, things

that they read, things that we read.

I'm telling you, Duane, it was

a fascinating, rich three days.

And we all felt in my group,

we all felt connected to these people.

(Duane) Amazing.

Were there discussion areas where you

found common ground?

(Roly) You know, there was not a lot of

common ground about a lot of things.

Not about Trump and not even about Israel, because

our group is much more progressive about Israel and

they couldn't believe that we as Jews would be

critical of the government of Israel.

So, yes, I mean, there were a number of areas

in terms of some moral issues and some spiritual issues,

but there was a lot of areas of disagreement and

also to try to come to some sort of consensus.

Some things, for example, on homosexuality, right?

You know in the beginning, we were far

apart, but some of them have relatives who are LGBT,

so their attitude is softer than on the surface.

In the beginning, you project some

sort of a political position, right?

But then once you begin to scratch the

surface, you find that those positions are not

so set in stone, so solid.

And so we began the conversation in some

of these issues and penetrate below the surface.

And we found, for example, a lot of common ground.

On race.

You would think everybody, they're racist. Not true.

It's not true.

There is some racial prejudice and then also some

racial prejudice on our part, and there's prejudice on

our part towards people who are like them.

So prejudice is not exclusively on that side.

A few months later, I think we went there in the beginning

of May, and they came here mid June to New York.

(Duane) Good time for New York.

(Roly) And it was really great.

We went to Ground Zero together. (Duane) Amazing.

(Roly) Which was very meaningful for them.

We live here and we experience this and so on.

But for them, it was like really going

to a holy site, and particularly because so

many first responders, police and public servants of

that nature fell on that burden.

For them, it was deeply, deeply spiritual.

They came to services, I think, for all of them,

if not the vast majority, but if not for all

of them, this was the first time in a synagogue.

And so we had people sit with them and explain.

And they had, I think, very interesting

experience of being in a synagogue.

They had never met Jews, many of.

Most of them before, right?

And the next day, some of them went touring.

On Saturday morning, some of them came to services

with us, and they were staying in our homes.

And then on Saturday after the service, usually we

share some food and there's a moment for sort

of community and fellowship, and they joined us.

And then we had a panel.

So there were three or four of them

on a panel, and there were 200 members

of our congregation went to attend this presentation.

Let me tell you that it ended with a standing ovation.

(Duane) Wow, that's remarkable.

(Roly) Remarkable.

Many of us were in tears.

They were in tears.

It was remarkable because they were so honest and

earnest and willing to take the risk of sharing

some things that are politically incorrect in our congregation.

But they said it with grace

and they were very generous.

And so people really gave him a standing ovation.

We spent the whole afternoon Saturday

talking and doing more exercises.

And then on Saturday night, some of the hosts took

the group down to Times Square and places like that.

And then on Sunday we went to the Lower

East Side and we visited the museum that is

about the first immigrants that came to New York.

Jewish and Irish and Italian,

and the settlements down there.

And then we walked around Chinatown, Chinese neighborhoods,

and we talked about immigration, the story of

immigration of New York City and the importance

of immigration and so on and so forth.

One of the encounters actually was very meaningful.

We have a relationship with a church,

neighboring church, two blocks from the synagogue.

Our synagogue had a problem, the building had a problem back

in 1991, and we had to move out of our sanctuary.

And we spent 25 years in a Methodist

church two blocks of (Duane) What a wonderful story.

What a wonderful story. (Roly) It was amazing.

That's another story, I'll tell you another time.

But it was very formative foundational for our

congregation back as we were coming back to

life in the late 80s, early 90s.

And so we spent 25 years in the Metrolist church.

That's also part of the dialogue in many ways.

It's in the DNA of this community

to try to find it's amazing.

So that church was hosting, was serving as a sanctuary for

a woman who was an asylum seeker from Guatemala.

And this was in the Trump years

So ICE was after her and they

were offering sanctuary for the church.

So she couldn't leave the church.

She was in the church for a couple

of years and members of the congregation, our

congregation, their congregation you know, just coming, bringing food

and so on and so forth.

We brought the Michigan group to meet with her.

(Duane) What an interesting, (Roly) very, very interesting

encounter, because they think all these

people are rapists and criminals.

Because Trump had told them all the

people coming on the southern border, they

are rapists and criminals and so on.

So she told the story why she had left Guatemala and

what had happened to her family down there in crime and

gangs and so on, and why she had to come here

with her husband and they had a child, they were living

in Westchester and so on and so forth.

And she was working.

And then she realized that her papers were

not in order and ICE was after her.

And the story of immigration got a human face, not

just in Fox News and some sort of story of

crime and these people are coming to take our jobs

and so on, but a human face.

So it was extraordinary.

There was a follow up to the story (Duane) oh, wonderful.

(Roly) Which is that a number of months later there was

the attack in the synagogue in Pittsburgh,

and eleven people murdered on a Shabbat morning at services

by a guy who was now on trial. Right.

He's been found guilty and now they're trying

to determine what the sentence will be, right?

Is it life in jail or death sentence and so on.

So that happened in October, November of 2018.

Just a few days after that, we had

scheduled a phone call with a group.

We were having periodic phone calls with a

group in order to continue the conversation.

First we did a debrief and then we

just continued to talk about the issues.

And we had a phone call scheduled for

Monday and this attack happened the Saturday before.

So two days later we are on a phone call and

they said, we are so shocked by what happened because now

we know Jews and we feel you're our family.

And so an attack on a synagogue is an

attack on all of us, on our family.

I am so moved as I'm saying this.

(Duane) Amazing! (Roly) Right!


(Roly) Before we knew you Jews were Jews.

After we met you, you're our family.

So we are outraged.

We are going to write a statement and so on.

We would like to come to the synagogue

to send a delegation to the synagogue the

following week to express our solidarity and to

read a statement before the congregation and to

denounce the anti-semitism in our country.

These are... (Duane) Amazing. (Roly) Right?

White corrections officers trump voters in

their majority from Michigan, rural.

So you would think, right?

All of these people are supporters of

right wing anti-semites and so on.

They came here and they made

a statement before the congregation.

One of our members is a congressman.

He was there.

It was very moving.

Now, at the same time, the corrections officers are

trying to present some of their issues before Congress,

some of their issues that they're dealing with that

put their lives in danger because of overcrowding of

jails, because of the privatization of jails.

This is all things that they are very much

against because they pay the price for this.

First of all, they see that the inmates

get worse conditions, and because they get worse

conditions, their job is much more difficult.

First of all, selfishly, they fear.

Our jobs are much more difficult.

We live with greater danger, greater

anxiety, and so on and fear.

And at the same time we see these human

beings who committed crimes, but are human beings who

are being treated worse than they were before because

of all these things going on.

And they for a long time they've been

trying to put their issues before local state

assemblies or congress, not always very successfully.

So we determined that we were going to support

their effort and to try to allow them to

present their issues and to be heard.

And so a number of our

people supported that effort, you see?

So now we have a partnership.

(Duane) Amazing.

(Roly) So it was a very productive and moving thing.

And if anything, we learn, you

know, to listen to other people.

We don't agree about lots of things.

I mean, we disagree ferociously

about many other things.

But with respect.

(Duane) Do you think you're a different person

now as a result of that encounter?

How have you changed as a person?

(Roly) For me, I always refer to this experience as

something absolutely transformative because the way transformed is that

I may not agree with the issues.

And yes, there are some people that do hateful

things and have hateful views, and that's true.

But not everybody who is a Trump voter, a

conservative or in whatever other context with whom you

don't agree is necessarily a despicable human being.

There is a human being there.

And to discover the human being, to understand the

context of their lives, to understand why they came

to such positions or conclusions and so on.

I mean, people are complex.

And it's possible to talk, it's possible to dine.

It's possible to change your views on

certain things and for them to change

their views about certain things, too.

It was very transformative, the

power of discovering somebody.

We were together for a total of six days.

It's not like we were together for a month, right?

But six days, three days there and three days

here was sufficient to be able to break that

ice and to break through the surface and begin

to break the prejudice and the preconceived ideas.

(Duane) How do you now, with this experience under your belt...

I mean, it's different than reading about it.

It's different than theorizing about it. Right?

Now you have this deep experience with it.

How do you think that this whole

issue of polarization and depolarization, how do

you frame this as a spiritual problem?

(Roly) It is a spiritual problem because it

is a problem about discovering another person's


Humanity and the human soul

are spiritual issues, right?

So just to hear somebody else, to understand,

to relate, not just to dismiss because you

have different political ideas, but just to try

to understand, number one, that's a spiritual issue.

The other thing is who says that I have the truth?

You know what I mean? (Duane) Great point.

Great point, right? Great point.

So much of the problems of our

world are because people think they have

the truth and it's exclusively theirs.

(Roly) Exactly.

And my truth is greater than yours.

So to question yourself, to be willing to make yourself

vulnerable in that sense and open and to listen to

somebody else, to be open, to listen to really listen

to somebody else, even if you disagree, but to let

it penetrate, to open your soul.

And not everybody wants to do that.

And I actually believe that being

part of a spiritual community.

I'm not saying that only people who are religious

or spiritual could engage in something like that, but

I think that being part of a spiritual practice

often prepares you for something like that.

Because when you're in community,

not everybody is the same.

There are also different people in community, and not

just politically, but also the way people are.

You have to be tolerant when you're in community to people

who do things differently, or not like you, or you may

not like, but you're part of the same fellowship.

You have to be open and tolerant and see

the other person's humanity right when you're in community.

And second, I think those of us who practice

prayer, it forces you to open your heart and

to have to practice a certain openness.

And when you practice a certain openness and

then you can put it to use in

the service of cooperation and understanding and solidarity.

And our religious teachings are very sort of

deeply rooted in the notion that at least

in the Jewish tradition and others, that human

beings are created in the image of God.

All human beings are created in the

image of God, not just some.

And that we all have the same ancestors,

Adam and Eve in the biblical tradition,

are the ancestors of all humanity.

We all come from the same place.

So when you are steeped in those ideas and not

just intellectually, but also spiritually, emotionally, you remind yourself of

that all the time, and you be part of a

community that tries to live that out.

Then eventually, if you practice enough, then you

find that you might be open for something

like know, like this experience that we have.

And all the members of our community

were deeply, deeply affected by this.

And the members of their community in

Michigan were deeply affected by this.

It was wonderful.

I think we were very surprised.

(Duane) Yeah, an amazing story.

So what next?

Where do you go from there?

What an amazing encounter and an amazing adventure.

But where do you go next?

What next for you, for your congregation?

(Roly) We tried to spread the story because it was

only limited to a number of people, twelve

people and a very big congregation.

So then we all related the story

many, many times within the community.

We had a video, we had sessions, we

tried it and tried to invite people to

try this with family members, neighbors.

And we spoke a lot about

the transformative power experience like that.

And we were in the process of building an experience

like that with an Orthodox congregation in Manhattan, the other

side of the park, on the east side, we're on

the west side that has a different approach to Jewish

practice and also is more conservative in their views in

general, and particularly about Israel.

We have very serious disagreements

in general over Israel.

And so we had started putting

together a group that would meet

over a year on a monthly basis with study

and conversation and so on and so forth.

We had to apply and we had selected a group.

And this was March of 2020 and COVID started and we

debated whether to do it on Zoom and so on.

We decided this should not be done

on Zoom and we postponed it.

And then one thing took over, another thing took over,

and it never materialized, but it was almost there.

So another question is we've done things like this

for short of us a number of years ago.

After Michigan, after the Michigan thing in 2019,

I took a group to Israel of members

of my congregation with about 35 members.

And we did this with a group of settlers and people

who were sort of more on the right in Israel. Actually,

we joined a group of Israeli Jews who had some were

settlers and some were people were more liberal.

And we joined this conversation as a third group,

as a group of Jews living in the Diaspora.

It was very, very interesting.

So we try to find places where we can have

this experience not as intense as we had there.

(Duane) Well, it's such an amazing example, Rabbi Rowley,

so please keep up the good work.

What advice would you have for the Baha'i community?

So the Baha'i community, you know, we're, we're

grappling with this issue now too, you know.

Well, we will be looking over the.

Course of the next 25 years at

how to put these ideas in practice.

So what advice would you have for us?

(Roly) The advice is humbly,

I suggest, that it is great to meet other

human beings, even people with whom you disagree, and

try not to discount their humanity and try to understand

and you don't have to agree about everything.

Now, I told you about that church.

When we moved in the church, it was 1991, and

in the city of New York there was hyper tensions

between different groups here, blacks and Jews in particular.

In 1991 and a couple of years later, we put

together a group of twelve Christians from the church.

Methodist, twelve members of my congregation

and twelve members of the mosque.

Most of them are African American Muslims.

And we had six sessions originally, two in

the mosque and four in the church.

We hosted two by each group with

also conversation, discussion and so on.

And then we continued monthly for a year after that.

So we've been doing this for a while.

And it also was amazing, I mean,

to learn about each other's, holidays, celebrations,

life cycle events, theology, history.

So my advice to my Baha'i brothers and

sisters is, know, try to find groups with

whom you can have a conversation.

If you have a Baha'i group in New York, I

think it would be great to have some conversation with,

know, to have some sort of mutual discovery.

(Duane) We'll have to get that organized.

(Roly) That sounds really good. I don't know much about the Baha'i

Faith, so it would be great to learn. (Duane) fantastic.

Well Rabbi Roly, thank you so much

for joining us on Society Builders.

(Roly) Thank you so much.

Duane. My pleasure, my pleasure, anytime.

Blessings to you and your fellow Baha'i friends.

(Duane) Well, that was my interview with Rabbi Rowley.

I have to tell you that we did this

interview over Zoom, and at one point, both of

us had tears walled up in our eyes.

I mean, it's such an incredibly moving story, right?

And Rabbi Roly set such an amazing example for

all communities of faith, celebrating the opportunities that exist

for us to really get to know others before

we rush to judge them again.

When you hear the story of these exchanges, none

of this was about persuading the other side.

It wasn't about convincing them of

the errors of their ways.

What it was about was about injecting the discourse

with humanity, about better understanding each other, even if

we continue to disagree on a personal level.

I am deeply grateful to the good rabbi for

the lessons he's taught me through this interview.

One note of caution, though.

I think it's important to remember that advice from Dr.

Peter Coleman a few episodes back. Simple

contact between opposing groups is not enough.

A big part of the success of Rabbi

Rowley's exchange was the structure that framed it.

There were experienced mediators guiding the process.

The participants received some basic

training before meeting their counterparts.

There is an art to doing this all successfully,

and I think this only highlights how important it

is that we all get better acquainted with the

science of depolarization, which is exactly what we're striving

to do in this series.

So once again, I want to thank Rabbi

Roly, but I also want to thank you

for joining in our conversation today.

That's it for this episode.

I look forward to continuing our conversation.

Next time on Society Builders.

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