Israel Offers Teachable Moment To Build Bridges Among Jews, Not Walls

Elephant in the Synagogue

By Pinchas Allouche

Published March 13, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

‘They should be ashamed,” a friend wrote me recently.

He was referring to the resistance of some Orthodox Jews to joining the Israel Defense Forces. His communication joined the lists of emails and conversations I have had recently with many a friend on the rising tension between the so-called “Orthodox” and “secular” Jews in Israel. This tension, which has always existed, seems to have escalated most recently, particularly in Israel’s political arena.

These developments have also spilled over into the way American Jews of different denominations interact with each other. When Jews clash with Jews, it hurts. As history demonstrates, such conflicts almost always lead to havoc and destruction. So how should we respond? What can we do?

My dear mentor, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, once imparted to me that the difference between a wise man and a fool is that a wise man “makes the important issues of life important and the trivial issues trivial,” yet the fool “makes the important issues trivial, and the trivial issues important.”

His poignant advice summarizes best the approach we should adopt today: We must maintain a sense of proportion between the truly important issues and the trivial ones. After all, that which unites us is so much greater than that which divides us.

We all desire to make the world a better place. We all endeavor to nurture our children and surroundings with the richness of our heritage and traditions. We all care deeply about our communities, and we all wish to harness their dynamic force. But we can do so only if we learn to decipher the important issues from the trivial ones. And we ought to come together, as members of the same family, and focus on our common contributions, values and goals.

This will build bridges, not walls; love, not apathy; harmony, not dissonance. An acceptable solution for all internal conflicts will then undoubtedly arise.

Pinchas Allouche is the rabbi of Congregation Beth Tefillah, in Scottsdale, Ariz.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.