Bridging The Great Divides


I was touched by Gary Rosenblatt’s front-page column responding to Naftali Bennett’s concerns about U.S. Jewry and the rift that is widening between Israeli and American points of view about what it means to live in a complex, pluralistic and contemporary world (“Don’t Cry For Us, Jerusalem,” Editor’s column, June 22).

The other evening I went to hear “Songs for the Holy City,” organized by Professor Burt Visotzky at the Jewish Theological Seminary. The program featured the extraordinary Israeli Rabbi Tamar Elad Appelbaum and Arab, Turkish, and Jewish musicians, including Rabbi Roly Matalon of Congregation B’nai Jeshurun. The messages were so beautiful, inclusive and peaceful. JTS Chancellor Arnie Eisen attended and there was a deep sense that people of good will and respect could bridge the great divides, person by person, and through the arts as one portal for reflection.

In any case, reading Rosenblatt’s piece, I felt the same way. I thank him for speaking out against narrow and repressive outlooks. I particularly like the paragraph in which he says, “… there are plenty of signs in American Jewish life … which signal sparks of renewal” (and vitality, I would add). Also his conclusion that we cannot just try to revive what Bennett sees as “a vanishing American Jewish community” but also must attend to what is needed to revitalize and awaken a more contemporary Israeli society and religion.

I also am deeply interested in a future-oriented Judaism and what that would look like in the world our grandchildren will inherit.