Last month Temple Sinai hosted a panel discussion with Conservative radio host Alan Stock and left-wing pollster Jim Gerstein. It was part of the Year of Dialogue Series by the Board of Rabbis of Southern Nevada. The discussion was actually less combustible than I had predicted, even friendly and respectful, but I was still happy at how it turned out, particularly because everyone on the panel and in the audience did not shout, rant, rave or denigrate.
I firmly believe that our shul is a microcosm of the world out there, a world which is becoming more and more like a bearpit in the political and religious realm. Can we solve all the problems of hatred and polarization that we find out there? Not necessarily, but we can start on our own doorstep. We can shout a message from the rooftops that contempt for other views and truths which are not our own is not acceptable. We can state clearly that bullying, shouting and not truly listening will never convince the other side that we’re right.
I know that people out there are hurting. They have had arguments, strong ones, with family and friends about politics and other topics. Let’s all take a deep breath, remember that we are all “kodesh l’Adonai, holy to G-d” regardless of our views. We all have different upbringings, genetic make-ups and experiences so why should we not have differing views? This is the most important message as we arrive at the High Holy Days. Bring peace and civil dialogue in your corner of the universe at least. You will be surprised how far the influence of that simple step will spread.
L’shana tova tikateivu/may you be inscribed for a good year
Rabbi Malcolm Cohen, Sarah, Elijah & Rachel