Episode 35: Ed Stafman
Ed Stafman grew up in New York City, surrounded by diversity in the burrows of Brooklyn and Queens. After attending law schools both in the States and in Holland, he began his career focused on civil rights law and criminal defense, particularly in death penalty work. He grew up in a secular Jewish family, but after a moving experience at a spiritual retreat, he wound down his law practice and was ordained as a Rabbi. He served as the rabbi at Congregation Beth Shalom here in Bozeman until his recent retirement.
Despite his affinity and appreciation for the riches of Judaism, he believes religious law is divisive and supports a Palestinian state. From his perspective, the often extreme and even violent policies of Israel’s far-right government toward Palestinians in the West Bank are more aligned with a separatist group than democratic leadership.
Ed has also spent time at the Mexican border, where he witnessed Central American refugees from gang violence spend up to 5 years in prison upon seeking asylum in the United States. He believes it’s our responsibility on a humane and democratic level to provide refuge to those fleeing harm.