Making progress

Making progress

This week, columnist Gary Rosenblatt takes all corners of the Jewish world to task for holding preconceived notions about other Jews who are, apparently, more (or less) religious than themselves.
Rosenblatt wrote his column in light of the recent arrest of Orthodox rabbis on money laundering charges. And while he pulls no punches where many in the Orthodox world are concerned, wondering how they can hold themselves out as stewards of Judaism when several of their own leaders don’t live by Jewish ethics, Rosenblatt also doesn’t spare the more liberal Jews, chastising them for taking satisfaction at the sight of pious Jews, who may have otherwise criticized their lifestyles, being laid low.
It’s a courageous, thoughtful piece. Too often, we in our community, here, and nationwide, are reluctant to take a hard look at ourselves and see our shortcomings; we even kill the messenger when some journalists report on these blemishes. Rosenblatt’s words should be taken to heart.
But that isn’t the end of the story. Absent from Rosenblatt’s column is a message of hope that we can overcome our intra-community prejudices. We’d like to offer that message here:
In this week’s Chronicle, staff writer Toby Tabachnick reports that the Hillel boys’ high school, an Orthodox institution, which had been holding classes at Poale Zedeck, an Orthodox congregation, is moving to Beth Shalom, a Conservative congregation.
To put this in perspective, an Orthodox school is setting up shop in a synagogue where men and women are not separated, where women rabbis have taken the pulpit, at least as visitors, and where women have carried the Torah through a mixed-gender gallery of worshippers.
Do you think any of the rabbis who were recently arrested in New Jersey or Brooklyn would permit that?
The lesson we learn is that you can’t judge a Jew by whether they do or don’t wear a kippa, or by the mitzvot they may or may not observe. We’re all Jews trying to find our way to the same place.
We’ll be watching the Hillel-Beth Shalom arrangement with great interest. We hope it works out well for both groups, and that it leads to greater cooperation, resource sharing and even friendship between the denominations. That can only be a good thing.
As one Hillel parent told us: “That’s what makes Pittsburgh great, that we can do things like that.”