An intriguing idea          

An intriguing idea          

Last week’s story, which looked at the future of the American synagogue in our “Future of …” series, contained a thought-provoking idea from Rabbi Alex Greenbaum of Beth El Congregation of the South Hills.
Greenbaum envisioned a future synagogue where there would be multiple prayer services under one roof — Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist and Chabad — with everyone coming together afterward for Kiddush.
Maybe that sounds too utopian to you, but we would hate to see Greenbaum’s idea just pass into the archives without some discussion, hence this editorial.
All streams of Judaism worshipping under one roof, even though they are worshipping in separate rooms, sounds like an intriguing idea to us. We’ve been talking a lot about courageous conversations in Jewish Pittsburgh this past year. Greenbaum’s idea is about as courageous as one can get.
And it has merit, too.
To be sure, there are plenty of questions: Would the community build one big super synagogue, or would we simply rotate between existing synagogues? Are any of the existing synagogues big enough to accommodate so many services under one roof? What would happen to the existing congregations? What if the multiservices are happening too far away from Jews who walk to their synagogues? How would it be managed? Would there be one big board of trustees with subcommittees for each denomination, or would we finally do away with boards and committees?
And we’re just scratching the surface of the issues iceberg. Clearly, much thought and planning would have to go into something like this.
But the payoff — a Jewish community more unified physically and spiritually than ever before — might just be worth the mammoth effort.
Can you imagine a Kiddush where rabbis from across the denominational spectrum are standing together leading their combined congregation in blessing, no attention given to religious differences; just Jews coming together as Jews in a spiritual setting — old quarrels checked at the door? How awesome that would be!
And what a lesson by example it would be for young Jews who are not so sure they want to be active Jews when they are grownups. If they could see their elders making that kind of effort to find common ground, not for political purposes, but for purposes of faith, that would be a greater lesson than anything they learn in Sunday school or yeshiva.
OK, it won’t happen tomorrow. Sadly, it may never happen at all. But such a goal!  Greenbaum’s idea represents the kind of daring thinking Jewish Pittsburgh, and Jewish communities worldwide, definitely need.
And, if by some chance, this multidenominational worship experience does become reality in Jewish Pittsburgh, we’ll see you at the oneg.