Rabbi Joseph Potasnik is a radio show host, the Executive Vice President of the Executive Board of Rabbis, and he co-hosts “The Rev and the Rabbi” with Pastor A.R. Bernard. He recently joined Bernard on ARB TV to discuss religion, politics, and more.
Potasnik, who is also Bernard’s friend, began the discussion by expressing his gratitude towards Bernard for helping him in his faith journey.
“Thanks to you, I have developed a deeper appreciation for my own faith because when you meet other people, in this case, you, who is so deeply connected to your own faith tradition, it ensures me to look within my own and say what do we have to say about that issue.”
When Bernard turned the discussion to organized religion and how it is often seen as a controversial topic, Potasnik noted how there has been an exodus from sacred spaces.
“I think what we’re seeing today, as you know, is the rise of the unaffiliated,” explained Potasnik. “We’re seeing many people who are disconnected from community organizational congregations. They’re not walking into houses of worship. They’re maybe walking into other places—gyms and museums, and a host of other secular activities but they’re not walking into those sacred settings.”
Bernard also turned the conversation to the topic of hatred in society, observing that it is still quite prevalent. Potasnik attributed some of that to scapegoating and a lack of introspection.
“People need a scapegoat. There are people who are not ready to look within and see their own failings, they have to see the faults of others, so to speak, and blame others for all of their deficient.”
He also believes that hatred is rooted in fear. “It’s very isolating to stay in your cocoon [and] to talk to people who look like you, think like you…there’s nothing challenging there. But to go outside of those confines, and to have to confront people who are different, [and] who will challenge you, that requires a certain inner courage and a certain inner strength. Not everybody is ready to take on that role.”
The radio personality expressed the importance of having religious leaders weigh in on politics. “We must opine [and] weigh in. You [Bernard] and I follow that prophetic tradition. Prophets railed against rulers who they felt were doing things that were unjust and unfair,” stated Potasnick. “It is said that those who close their eyes never see tears and if we are to be fully respected for addressing the challenges of the day, we cannot close our eyes and ears and confine what we have to say in such a parochial fashion.
To watch the full interview, check it out on ARB TV.