Ben Kamin works for civil rights through his writings
Rabbi Ben Kamin is a clergyman, teacher, counselor and the author of seven books on human values, civil rights and spirituality. He has led congregations in Toronto, New York, Cleveland and San Diego since his ordination in 1978.
He has published hundreds of articles about community life in newspapers around the world, ranging from The New York Times to The International Herald-Tribune. He appears frequently on radio and television and serves on several national boards dealing with community affairs and interfaith relations.
He is married to Audrey Kamin, a financial professional and community activist, and the couple share four children.
Ben Kamin holds the degree of doctor of divinity from Hebrew Union College. In 2004, Audrey and Ben co-founded Reconciliation: The Synagogue Without Walls, a privately operated consulting agency for interfaith relations, pastoral and communal. Ben Kamin represents the agency as a director of San Diego’s Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice.
What brought you to Del Mar?
Love brought me to Del Mar ... and the desire to grow my marriage to the indomitable and magnificent Audrey Kamin. We were married at a friend’s home, along the water and the horizon, in October 2004.
After departing the pulpit of Congregation Beth Israel in La Jolla earlier that year, and setting out to establish my interfaith pastoral agency, “Reconciliation: The Synagogue Without Walls,” and become essentially a full-time author, Del Mar became the point at the end of the rainbow.
What makes this town special to you?
Del Mar is actually a village, a seaside community of stories and gossip and genuine concern about schools, ball yards, sea salt, and the ability for folks to linger with wine and in commiseration. It is decidedly human, a town where runners, surfers, doggies, poets and entrepreneurs co-mingle under a great deal of light. The ocean reminds us of how small we are after all.
If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in the area?
I would add a cozy downtown bookstore, not franchised, not wired, filled with the smells of tomes and wisdom, coffee, and warm baked goods that all compel people to calm down, read to one another quietly, and exchange ideas.
I would subtract the racetrack congestion that sucks up the sea breeze and our patience — as long we could still suck in the revenue!
I would improve upon my own real knowledge of this grand little hamlet and further appreciate its built-in hedge against the prevailing similitude of American life.
Who or what inspires you?
Audrey, my wife and beloved best friend inspires me. We helped each other even as both of our prior marriages painfully dissolved and we have made personal history here in Del Mar. Audrey is the most remarkable person I have ever met. She’s a woman of both wisdom and dignity, intuition and high standards as a business executive, yet entirely maternal and unrelentingly mindful of her children’s every nuance. She’s all this, while remaining impossibly beautiful and able, at any time, to humanize any moment with her wicked wit.
If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?
Anybody who knows anything about me would know that the guest of honor is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. whose legacy of social justice and personal courage is my beacon. And then, to indulge my eclectic tendencies, I’d have statesman Winston Churchill, poet Khalil Gibran, actress Audrey Hepburn, playwright Neil Simon, singer/songwriter Carole King, pitcher Tom Seaver and Prime Minister Golda Meir.
Tell us about what you are currently reading.
“And the Walls Came Tumbling Down,” the autobiography of Rev. Ralph David Abernathy; “As They See ‘Em: A Fan’s Travels in the Land of Umpires” by Bruce Weber; “Rhyming Life and Death” by Amos Oz; ‘The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama” by David Remnick, and the Major League baseball box scores and standings every day.
What is your most-prized possession?
It’s my 2004 Audi A6 with 107,000 miles that still purrs.
What do you do for fun?
Hang with a bunch a dear good people and drink wine and share life-stories (this works especially well at Red Tracton’s), listen to great high-flying music while walking the canyons of Del Mar, rub Audrey’s head and take in her fragrance before we fall asleep at night.
Please describe your greatest accomplishment.
Professionally: Being asked to keynote and launch my new book, “Nothing Like Sunshine: A Story in the Aftermath of the MLK Assassination” at the National Civil Rights Museum, Lorraine Motel in Memphis, on Easter Sunday, April 4, 2010 — the 42nd anniversary of Dr. King’s murder, at that site.
Personally: Harvesting a lively and genuine relationship with all four of my children/stepchildren, ranging in age from almost 14 to 30!
What is your motto or philosophy of life?
In any situation, crisis, or opportunity, I want to be part of the solution and not the problem.