If you look at the local stories in this week’s issue of the Jewish Standard, you could do a classic glass-half-full-glass-half-empty test.
We are such a divided community! Look at the question of women wearing tefillin. (See page 26.) Although the lines do not always break exactly where you might expect them to, the divide between the extremes on either side looms like the Grand Canyon, full of leather straps and jagged shards. Because it is a subject that is both public and intimate, passions run high.
You might think that there is no bridge that can span these two palisades.
But then look at some of the other stories. The Foundation for Jewish Camp, which is piloting a program to help first-time campers have a life-changing summer experience, works with camps across the wide spectrum of Jewish life. (See page 8.) All you have to do is put your own details into the database. There is no attempt there to judge level of commitment or depth of conviction; the program, BunkConnect, simply offers a way to match your own level of observance with the camp’s.
Similarly, a report on a discussion of the Pew survey shows that danger seems to unite us. (See page 12.) Rabbis across the streams agreed more than they disagreed about how to confront the forces that seem to be leaching the Jewishness from us.
Rabbi Shmuel Goldin often talks, as he did that evening, about how he has come to value, although not to validate, Jewish ideas and practices that differ from his own. That is not an easy balance to achieve, much less to maintain, but working toward it always is a worthwhile exercise.