Idol Chatter

A rabbi and a Muslim walk into a restaurant, garbed in a kippah and a skullcap, respectively. Both are religious educators, but this isn’t a formal summit on religious education in America–it’s a reunion between Charlie Buckholtz and Sedar Chappelle, old friends from Silver Spring, MD who, as adults have found that their religious differences give them much food for thought and discussion.
And if Sedar’s surname sounds familiar, it’s because he has a famous brother you might have heard of. Charlie knows Sedar and Dave (then David) since childhood–the Chappelles even attended Charlie’s bar mitzvah.

Expanding on last year’s story about the duo in the Washingtonian (penned by Buckholtz’s sister, Alison) is this report–shot on video for Religion & Ethics Newsweekly and then transcribed. An excerpt from the transcription:

CHARLIE: There is a doctrine in his religion which he adheres to. The doctrine is that Islam is the kind of preferred religion. Other religions are acceptable. Other religions should be allowed to exist. But really Islam is the preferred religion.
[The interviewer] ROLLIN: But don’t you feel that way about Judaism?
CHARLIE: No, that’s not a position that Judaism takes.
ROLLIN: Sedar also differs with Charlie about the question of the afterlife.
SEDAR: In his worldview, in his values, this world and this life is much more important to him than death or the life after death.
ROLLIN: And is that what’s important to you?
SEDAR: Well, for me, this life is temporary and temporal, and the life after death is eternal.

The interviewer observes that “their theological differences, far from separating them, have just given them that much more to talk about.”
As the Washingtonian article noted, laughter plays a serious role in being able to maintain the warmth of a lasting friendship:

“We take matters of the heart and soul very seriously,” Charlie says, “but being able to laugh at ourselves and each other is really important. There is an underlying humility because neither of us has the ultimate truth. All our goofing around is fun, and the silliness has a sweetness to it, but it serves a purpose for us as well.”
Says Sedar: “We’ve been laughing together since we can remember, and it’s especially important now.”

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