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Best Religious Speaker: A controversial man, and an eloquent one 

Rabbi Michael Lerner

Rabbi Michael Lerner speaks with great eloquence. The rabbi is widely known for his controversial condemnation of the Mideast policies that fail to balance Israeli and Palestinian rights, which puts him smack between the two sides in a debate where there is little common ground. But Lerner, an important international figure, is much more than this one-note reputation suggests. He's a best-selling author, editor of Tikkun magazine, and spiritual leader of Beyt Tikkun Synagogue. Since his days as a student leader in Berkeley's antiwar movement, he has been at the forefront of progressive politics, working tirelessly to create a better world. He spent time in jail for organizing protests during the Vietnam War, helped establish the Institute for Labor and Mental Health, motivated Hillary Clinton to adopt his concept of a "politics of meaning," and most recently, cofounded a progressive organization -- the Tikkun Community -- with scholar Cornel West. Despite his unassuming demeanor, Lerner is a masterful speaker: thoughtful, passionate, and always inspiring. For those who share his world vision, and even for those who don't, he's an incredible local resource. Check the Web site for the schedule of Lerner's Friday night services, classes, and community events held in the East Bay.

Readers' pick:
Reverend Elouise Oliver
East Bay Church of Religious Science,
4130 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-420-1003.
ReligiousScience.org/OaklandEastBay

(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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