Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Back to Opinion

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

‘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.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.