Despite the divisions that run among the streams of Judaism, a recent report shows that some clergy are making efforts to ease the tensions. A report released last week by the North American Boards of Rabbis illustrates numerous examples of cooperation between denominations across the United States and Canada.
“The goal of this work is not simply to document acts of Jewish unity on an interdenominational level over the past year, but also to promote greater cooperation, appreciation, respect, partnership and unity between rabbis from all the different branches of our Etz Chaim, Tree of Life, that we call the Jewish people,” said Rabbi Jay Rosenbaum, NABOR’s executive vice president, in an introduction to the report, NABOR was formed in February 1999 by Rabbi Marc Schneier, who is now the group’s president. While not maintaining an official membership list, NABOR has connection to more than 50 local boards of rabbis of all denominations.
“There was a need to demonstrate that there is an increasing number of rabbis” of all denominations “who are making concerted efforts to recognize the strengths that comes from our similarities,” Schneier said.
All over the country, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist rabbis team up to deliver lectures and courses in Judaism, and promote common causes, the second annual report said.
In Sylvania, Ohio, Reform, Lubavitch, Orthodox and Conservative rabbis met last December to discuss the Hebrew curriculum for the Toledo Board of Jewish Education;
In Houston, a large Orthodox synagogue allows the use of its mikvah for Conservative and Reform rabbis; and
In Miami, “Project Unity” brings together Orthodox, Conservative and Reform rabbis for Torah studies and group discussion.
“There is a perception that the rabbinate is a dysfunctional family in a house divided,” Schneier said. “That is simply not the case.”
Rosenbaum called nationwide attempts at cooperation between the Jewish streams a “spiritual peace process for American Jewry.”