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Introducing the Tikva Committee

02/28/2022 11:07:01 AM

Feb28

Greg Marcus, George Dale, and Sheila Zelinger

As a community, CBJ does a great job of affirming diverse religious practices and encouraging people to stay true to their own Jewish traditions.  But are we able to apply our tolerance for religious diversity to tolerance for diverse views on social imperatives or politics? Do our members feel safe expressing opinions about the issues of the day? Do we all need to believe in the same things in order to be a strong congregation? Do we even agree on what topics should be discussed at Shul?

What if we disagree about how to combat anti-semitism; what if we disagree about a particular political or cultural leader; what if we don’t agree with some viewpoint expressed during Shabbat or during other programming at CBJ? In these tumultuous times, we reaffirm our commitment to what binds us together and to learning better skills to respect and lift up the strength of our diverse points of view.

It starts with curiosity, which leads to an opportunity to hear and be heard; to learn something new about one another and realize that there is a greater whole that transcends disagreement. The Tikvah Task Force, consisting of 11 members, is underway, focused on bringing to life our Mission statement: "With Jewish wisdom, culture, and social imperatives as the foundation, we will strengthen the Congregation through a shared commitment to honoring divergent points of view in a respectful, healthy and mutually enriching environment.”

This is a long-term effort supported by the Clergy, Staff, the Board, and many passionate people who love CBJ. The most common aspiration is that, “If not here, then where?” And as Rabbi Hillel taught, “If not now, when?” At this point, the task force has mapped out three initiatives:

 1) Raise the awareness around our community's diversity of views, and shared Jewish values. Many people are unaware that CBJ is made up of a panoply of beliefs, traditions, and world views. Not only does this affect the way we worship, but also the way we see the modern issues in our Shul and the world around us. Others may not be aware that issues have arisen within the Shul where disagreement has overshadowed our common community. We will explore Jewish values and how they impact our tolerance for disagreement through Clergy messages as well as through discussions to build awareness within our community. These are ambitious, and therefore, long term initiatives. We hope you will participate with us in these programs so that together we become a community that celebrates and respects our differences.

2) Learn new respectful dialogue tools. It is not always easy to disagree respectfully nor to understand the higher interests that bind us, especially when the areas of disagreement are important and meaningful. We will use third party facilitators to lead us in skill development and to help us discuss the tough issues. We hope that these efforts empower us to discuss divergent views respectfully, channel disagreement in healthy ways, and remember that our commitment to community cohesion should guide every interaction.

3) Use our Awareness and Tools to expand our understanding of diverse social views within the Shul. Hopefully, we all can agree on the Respectful Dialogue principals adopted in 2019 and on our shared desire to see the Shul thrive. But “walking the walk” is not so easy. In these tumultuous times, we reaffirm our commitment to what binds us together and to learning better skills to respect and lift up the strength of our diverse points of view. We plan programming to deepen our commitment to each other, to Jewish values and to ensuring that everyone, congregation members, leaders and clergy thrive in an environment where we celebrate what holds us together while respecting our differences. These are ambitious and, therefore, long term initiatives; ones that we hope will eventually influence every activity and everyone in the community, including our youth.

Please join us for these upcoming programs: Look for our first Tikvah Shabbat on March 26 during which we will dive deeper into our exploration of how Jewish values support honoring a diversity of viewpoints. This will include not only messages during services but also opportunities for you to be heard and engage. Look for the Speaking Across Differences Workshop on April 10th. This three-hour in-person workshop is open to anyone who wants to learn and practice tools on how to navigate differences in your own life or here at CBJ. If you would like more information in the meantime, please send an email to Tikvah@bethjacobrwc.com.

Please see our full vision brochure HERE.

Sat, May 21 2022 20 Iyyar 5782