UC's  Judaic Department Head joins national religious campaign  

Matthew Kraus part of 100 Days, 100 Letters Campaign

Matthew Kraus, head of the Department of Judaic Studies at UC’s College of Arts and Sciences, will participate this year in American Values, Religious Voices 2021, a national non-profit campaign for leaders of all faiths to write a compiled 100 letters over 100 days to send to President Biden, Vice President Harris, and Members of the 117th Congress.

Invited to participate by Dr. Andrea Weiss, Provost of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and inspired by the 2017 campaign of 100 Days, 100 Letters, Kraus says he  immediately agreed. His letter is scheduled to appear online March 9.

“Addressing our leaders with the empathy, compassion, comfort and wisdom from various religious traditions was a healthy approach to addressing the challenges after the 2016 elections and it makes just as much sense to do the same after the 2020 elections,” Kraus said.

American Values, Religious Voices 2021 began in 2017, following the 2016 election, as a way for religious leaders of all denominations to challenge the president, vice president, and members of congress to govern according to values held historically by all of the varying faiths.  

These letters bring together the voices of scholars across America to engage in a discourse about religious freedom. Included in these are Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh voices, all hoping for valued leadership. For the program, each author has a day in which their letter is released through the campaign.

“The American Values, Religious Voices is a mature response to the frustration many Americans feel about these elections, our elected leaders, the toxic way we speak to each other, and the systemic injustices in our country,” Kraus said.  

“And the project models how people with differences can still work together: It shows that the multitude of religions in our society share a common aspiration for an America that lives up to its highest ideals. It is a step in the right direction.”

Kraus believes that the bringing together of so many religious voices offers a positive message to the public, and especially to students. 

“Institutions of higher education like UC are committed to understanding and knowledge which is best achieved through honest and respectful discourse even if it is painful and contentious.” Kraus said. “I was drawn to the project because it relies on scholars of religion like myself who bring a critical approach as we respectfully share the productive wisdom of the traditions we study.”

By Rebecca Schweitzer. Featured image at top of page is Matthew Kraus. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand.


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