The One America Movement is excited to launch a new initiative called One America Voices. Once a week, we will publish short interviews with Americans from all walks of life. By hearing each other’s stories, we can begin to reduce the divisiveness and polarization in our society. Enjoy – share with your networks and on social media using the hashtag: #1AmericaVoices
Board Member: Convergence; Brookings Institution
1. Twenty years ago you became an American citizen and converted to Judaism – both in the span of 12 months. What’s with that?
A: I immigrated from the UK in 1975. After 20 years as a green carder I essentially woke up one morning and thought: “I am really an American. I should get the paperwork done.” Really, that’s how I made the decision. I realized that American values, American ways of thinking, American optimism had seeped into me and I wasn’t truly British any more. Meanwhile my wife is Jewish and I had committed to raising our girls in a Jewish home. As I learned more, I became increasingly attracted to Judaism’s emphasis on ethics and community. That also seeped into me. So converting was actually quite like the process of changing my citizenship. I was wrestling with my identity.
2. In addition to working at the Brookings Institution – a Washington think tank – you are on the board of an organization called Convergence. What does it do?
A: Convergence brings together interest groups, or stakeholders, who disagree strongly about policy issues, and it uses professional facilitators to build trust and find areas of agreement. We’ve done that in K-12 education, where teacher unions, charter school operators, employers and others worked together for over a year and came together on a different vision for children’s education. We did the same on US-Pakistan relations. Right now we are trying to find a way forward for liberals and conservatives on health care. Stay tuned! I am very committed to Convergence’s way of trying to rebuild unity and civil discourse in our country. It is very consistent with One America.
3. Coming from England, do you miss cricket?
A: I do, but baseball is a pretty good substitute. My wife and I are Nationals fans. One thing I really like about baseball is that, as in cricket, strategy is central to baseball, and the many pauses in the action give the fans time to debate player and manager decisions. And all the Americana and folklore of the game is really enjoyable for an immigrant like me. This summer my brother and his family came from England to visit and we took them to a Nationals game. They loved it.
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