This letter is in response to a recent op-ed by Michael Vanyukov (“One-man show ‘The Forbidden Conversation’ advocates for a hopeless conversation,” May 25). On May 9, J Street Pittsburgh and Temple Sinai Tikkun Olam Center for Jewish Social Justice co-sponsored “The Forbidden Conversation” at the JCC. This one act play, written and performed by Gili Getz, describes his personal journey into the past and the future, exploring the difficulty of talking openly about Israel within the American Jewish community. The play was followed by conversations in small groups, giving the members of the audience an opportunity to address this issue from their own personal experiences.
How ironic and indeed how sad that the writer of the op-ed missed the entire point of the evening. He was not able to get beyond his own personal biases and misguided historical contexts, to such a degree that he entitled his op-ed the “hopeless conversation.”
The intent of the program was not “to reach a compromise” or “when opponents agree on the position of one of them.” Rather, it was, and continues to be, the recognition that because there are different points of view within the American Jewish community, we Jews have to learn to address these deep differences respectfully and civilly.
A hopeless conversation is one that besmirches and vilifies the other, as the writer did with his ugly remarks both about the author and J Street. As the tent of Abraham and Sarah was open on all sides, our community tent also should be wide enough to welcome all organizations and all individuals and their particular points of view.
Malke Frank and Nancy Bernstein
Co-Chairs, J Street Pittsburgh