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!
  • Yeshiva University's lawyer wanted to know why the dozens of former schoolboys now suing over a sexual abuse cover-up didn't sue decades ago. Read the judge's striking response here.
  • It’s over. The tyranny of the straight-haired, button nosed, tan-skinned girl has ended. Jewesses rejoice!
  • It's really, really, really hard to get kicked out of Hebrew school these days.
  • "If Netanyahu re-opens the settlement floodgates, he will recklessly bolster the argument of Hamas that the only language Israel understands is violence."
  • Would an ultra-Orthodox leader do a better job of running the Met Council?
  • So, who won the war — Israel or Hamas?
  • 300 Holocaust survivors spoke out against Israel. Did they play right into Hitler's hands?
  • Ari Folman's new movie 'The Congress' is a brilliant spectacle, an exhilarating visual extravaganza and a slapdash thought experiment. It's also unlike anything Forward critic Ezra Glinter has ever seen. http://jd.fo/d4unE
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • 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.