Times are changing
Rabbi Arthur Green’s essay stating that American rabbis are giving in to assimilation has caused reflection of personal experiences with the intransient, disconnected, unrealistic and blind beliefs shared by much of the hierarchy controlling many forms of the Jewish religion (“Are American rabbis giving in to assimilation?” March 3).
We all know that, like other religions, Judaism in not one thing; even the classification of Reform, Conservative, Orthodox or Reconstructionist contain many subdivisions and differences. Two Conservative synagogues in Pittsburgh, although separated by just a few blocks, can be differentiated by their religious practices and observances, one leaning more liberal than the other.
The unwillingness of congregations to change as the Jewish families that surround them have changed is evident to many. Those of us who are “super-seniors,” as we are now grouped, remember robust congregations that were the center of our social lives. There were men’s clubs and sisterhoods, Hebrew and Sunday school classes with 25-30 students, and even bowling leagues. Services were well-attended on Friday night and Saturday morning. You did not have a problem finding a minyan.
Things have and are changing. Things always change.
I was raised like all of my friends, interacting with many kids who were different from me. As I got older and participated in athletics, then high school, and went off to college in another area of the country my experiences and interactions with those who were different expanded greatly. I was taught that the human way was to accept them as equals. I was taught to respect them. I was taught to try to understand why they did some things differently and to learn from that.
Many of my generation accepted all people as equals. My wife and I raised our children as our world continued to change. Their experience involved many people who no longer had to hide their differences. Now my grandchildren have an even wider world open to them and the freedom to not only befriend all, but to openly be who they are as well.
What has not changed fast enough is reflected in Rabbi Green’s old and narrow viewpoints.
He refuses to accept, notice, or even acknowledge the changes surrounding him.
Sadly, not until more leaders who are holding onto the views expressed by Rabbi Green leave their leadership positions can we hope to see change and growth in our synagogues as we see now with the example of The Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies.
David B. Fall, DMD
Regarding Israel: Have you seen enough?
On Jan. 13, the Chronicle reported that 19% of respondents to the Chronicle’s poll about the new right-wing Israeli government chose the option “cautious — wait and see how they act.” It did not take long to see, not only how the government is acting, but the results of its actions. Tens of thousands of Israelis from all sectors of Israeli society are demonstrating in the streets. Violence has escalated, with a sad loss of life. If the government continues as it has, recklessly co-opting the judicial system, denying civil rights to Israeli Arabs and annexing occupied territory, Israel will no longer be a democracy and it risks a third intifada.
To the Chronicle readers who chose to “wait and see,” we would ask: “Have you seen enough?”
Nancy Bernstein, Malke Frank, Mark Fichman and Edward J. Feinstein