Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who was taken hostage with three others at his Reform synagogue in Texas on January 15, 2022, is often described as “kind.” But it wasn’t kindness alone that helped defuse a tense 11-hour standoff with a gunman. The rabbi, who has led the Reform synagogue of about 125 families since 2006, is an interfaith champion with deep-rooted friendships among Christians and Muslims. This was evident in the nearby command center at Good Shepherd Catholic Community, where a group of rabbis, imams and pastors helped FBI teams negotiate with the hostage-taker. Friends of the rabbi and his wife, who met at the University of Michigan as undergraduates, say they were committed to “tikkun olam,” a Jewish phrase translated as “repairing the world.”

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