David L. Steinberg will be hosting a discussion at Pinelands Branch Library on Sept. 27 at 6:30 p.m.
By Melissa Riker
With a passion for peace and poetry, David L. Steinberg is spreading his knowledge and his work throughout the community.
The Haddon Heights resident has been chosen as a 2018 Nobel Peace Prize nominee by the International Writers and Artists Association for his work in a book titled “My Enemy in the Mirror — Finding Peace in an Unpeaceful World.” He has been partaking in peace discussions for the past four years.
Steinberg’s interest in poetry sparked at age 12, with his affection for peace coming at a later age. In 1965, he enlisted in the Marines and was discharged a year later due to medical reasons.
Although he chose to enlist in the military as an alternative to being drafted, Steinberg feels he underwent a paramount change during that time in his life.
“I went through a vast transformation of being a warrior for war to being a warrior for peace. It was a pretty powerful transformation,” Steinberg said. “Now I’m gratified, I’m fulfilled, I’m sustained, and there’s nothing like being able to reach out and touch people and get a positive response.”
In 1980, Steinberg was one of the founders of the “Society for Poets of Southern New Jersey,” where he met Faleeha Hassan, otherwise known as “The Maya Angelou of Iraq” after he recited his poem “Time Grows Short” in honor of his sister who passed away.
When Hassan heard this poem, she asked permission to translate his poem into Arabic, which was ultimately published online in England, Sweden, Holland, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq.
She also offered to have his poem “My Enemy in the Mirror” published in the magazine “28” in Gaza in December 2014. This made Steinberg the first American and the first Jewish poet to be published in Gaza, which all took place during wartime with Israel.
Through his friendship with Hassan, they have traveled to various libraries, universities and organizations as “A Muslim Woman and a Jewish Man Reading Poetry and Hosting a Discussion About Peace.”
The two embarked on these journeys for about two years as a pair, and Steinberg has been now doing solo discussions for the past year and a half.
Steinberg’s upcoming discussion at the Pinelands Branch Library will be on Thursday, Sept. 27, at 6:30 p.m., where he will express ways in which individuals can find peace within themselves. He stated two of those ways are through meditation and prayer, and, given his studies of eight religions, he has written the “Golden Rule” for each one — aimed at achieving peace and treating others with respect.
“As you find peace in yourself, you find peace in your family, peace in your neighborhood, peace in your state, peace in your country, peace in the world,” Steinberg said. “It’s what we can do ourselves to create peace.”
Steinberg stated he never imagined his work to lead him into a Nobel Peace Prize nomination, along with 331 candidates — 216 individuals and 115 organizations — but that it has been an astonishing accomplishment. The winner will be chosen in early October.
“I know in my heart, and I’m sure the other people [nominated] know in their heart, that the work their doing has value,” Steinberg said. “It’s nice to be recognized. I am deeply, deeply honored.”