friday, december 10, 2010 .
letters to the editor the rabbi’s turn
“I didn’t ask younger composers who I might like, and think are tremendous, and think that they have great careers or the uture, just because we don’t have that relationship.”— Seattle Symphony music director Gerard Schwarz, on his commissions or his fnal season. See page 9.
Write a letter to the editor: W w v f y! o w f www.jw./x.pp?/_., p y ppxy 350 w. t f x d 14. F y f .
Te character Larry Davidplays on V is one o the mostannoying, inuriating peopleany one o us could ever meet.He is sel-centered to the pointo absurdity and his need to beright about everything jeopar-dizes his closest relationships.In the seventh season o “CurbYour Enthusiasm,” Larry triesto reconcile with his estrangedwie, Cheryl. In the season’s lastepisode, Cheryl’s resistance is nally break-ing down. But, in the meantime, Larry hasbeen accused by a riend o putting a glasso water on a wooden table and staining thewood. He is convinced he is innocent andpassionately searches or the real criminal.In the last scene o the season, Cheryllooks at Larry lovingly, and tells him shethinks they really belong together. Tey are about to embrace.But Cheryl has a drink in her hand.She puts it down on the woodentable so she can give Larry a hug. At thatmoment, Larry’s eyes open wide and alook o horror crosses his ace. He looksat Cheryl accusingly and says, “Do yourespect wood?”Te moment o tenderness passes, andthe season ends.In the book o
, we read theamous line: “
zedek, tzedek tirdof!
” — justice, justice, you shall pursue. o be a
is to be emotionally churnedup about what’s wrong in the world. Yetthe rabbis went out o their way to under-mine this text. Why “
askedthe rabbis? Wouldn’t one
havebeen enough? Tey answered: “
Echad din,v’echad p’shara
is to teach uswe should pursue what’s right. And, theother
teaches us to compromise.Why did the rabbis do this? Aer all,compromise is about letting go o someo our desire or justice. But the rabbisunderstood that our unchecked passionor justice has the potential to do tremen-dous damage to our relationships.In Benjamin Balint’s new book,
, he says that
has lost some o its vibrancebecause it has settled into an ideologicalposition that is too comortable and pre-dictable. Tere was a time, says Balint,that you could see warriors o the rightand the le slugging it out in the pages o
. Nowadays, you pretty muchknow what you’re going to get when youread
, and that is a loss to theJewish community.I would add to Balint’s observation thatthis dynamic is true o the Jewish commu-nity as a whole: Tere is a loss o toleranceor diversity in our own community. Weare increasingly quick to pre- judge people based on what wethink they believe, and we aremore prone than ever beore todemand that our loyal riendsmarch with us lockstep on achecklist o issues which wedetermine are the right way and the only way.We say we love diversity.But do we really deserve thatreputation? Can we really dis-agree with each other on issues close toour heart without name calling? I that’sthe case, no Jew should be called an enemy o Israel or a sel-hating Jew because they support J Street. And no Jew should beostracized or looked down upon becausehe or she belongs to the Republican Party.he recent debate over whether amosque should be built in New York nearGround Zero is a good example. Whereverwe come down on this issue, I think we canall acknowledge that this issue is complex.You are not an idiot or anti-American i you believe the primary value that needs tobe upheld here is that o religious reedom.And, you are not a bigot and a racist i youbelieve that a mosque should not be built inthis particular place at this particular time.Te politics o contempt has become alltoo pervasive across the spectrum, on thele and on the right. Te derisive label-ing o the other and the crude lumpingtogether o people we’ve decided are ouropponents has stied real conversationand has put a damper on the truly openexchange o ideas. I’ve heard more thanone story o riends and amily memberswho have stopped talking to each otherover political dierences.Diversity begins at home, in our owncommunity, in our own congregation, inour own relationships. Benjy Balint’s pre-scription or
is a great modelor community, too. We are ar moreinteresting, dynamic, and ethically sensi-tive when we have not settled into a pre-dictable way o thinking or acting.So, I want to encourage all o us to try this technique. Whenever we’re in dangero eeling a little too sel-righteous, let’s getin touch with our inner Larry David. Tenext time an argument threatens to getheated and personal, let’s turn to our part-ner, our riend, or our neighbor and ask them: “Do you respect wood?”For the sake o
, the timehas come or all o us to curb our enthusi-asm — to step back rom our own passion just enough to respect our riend’s pointo view. We don’t have to relinquish ourdeepest convictions. Just a little bit will goa long way to preserving the relationshipsthat are so important to us.
Curbing our nthusism
rabbi Jay rosENbaum
Hrzl-nr Tmid cosrvtiv cogrgtio
Words oF Wisdom?
“Jewelry is something which can make even an ugly one beautiful.” Seriously? I must be missing something here. Is this the best you can cull from thewisdom of the Ladinos (Ladino Lesson, Nov. 19)?I am appalled that something so trite and offensive would appear in our community news-paper. What exactly is the point of this Ladino lesson? Should we look for someone ugly tobuy jewelry for? And exactly who is it that is playing God and deciding who is ugly and who isnot? How about something to inspire? To uplift? To make us think? This was none of that.
he Jewish communal world has aproblem. Well, several, but today let’socus on one: Te continuing gender gapin North American Jewish organizations.A recently released study, titled “JewishCommunal Proessionals in North Amer-ican: A Prole,” provides an unprece-dented look at more than 2,000 Jewishcommunal proessionals throughout theUnited States and Canada. Commissionedby Te Jewish Communal Service Associa-tion and conducted by the Berman JewishPolicy Archive at New York University’sWagner Graduate School, the study pro- vides the rst in-depth look, across theorganizational divide, at who is working inU.S. Jewish communal institutions, theireducation, responsibilities, training, com-pensation and more.Te results are disturbing — especially regarding the continuing gender pay andleadership inequalities that exists acrossthe communal landscape.Women make up around two-thirdso all Jewish communal proessionals, yetrepresent only 12 percent o leadership.Tey signicantly lag behind men in com-pensation, with an overall gap o $28,000!Adjusting or age, years in the eld, level o responsibility, hours worked, and degreesearned, women’s salaries still trail men’sby about $20,000.Why?Is it because many opt to work orsmaller organizations that happen to havesmaller budgets? Is it because women arenot as strong at the negotiating table?Or men are stronger in marketing them-selves? Or is it, plain and simple, genderdiscrimination — are women just not pro- vided the same opportunities?Jerry Silverman, the president andCEO o Jewish Federations o NorthAmerica has said, “I don’t know thatwe’ve put enough emphasis on groomingwomen, building their capabilities, exper-tise, leadership.” Tat’s probably true, andthe ederation system certainly has notbeen setting any examples in this regard.It’s only recently, in San Francisco, thata woman has been selected CEO o a bigcity ederation.Writing this time last year in
Te Chron-icle of Philanthropy
, Shira Bronznick andDidi Goldenhar (proessionals at Advanc-ing Women Proessionals and the JewishCommunity) said:“I women — the majority o the work orce — are not being cultivated or chie-executive posts, nonprot groups are notmaking the best use o the dollars andproessional development that they havealready invested in their stas. Te persis-tence o the gender gap also signals a com-placency that is at odds with the valuesand can-do spirit o these mission-drivenorganizations.”And where is the seat o this problem?With the communal leadership.Communal leadership is, correctly,entrusted with the responsibility o man-aging its respective organizations. Com-munal leadership sets not only the agenda,but more importantly, the tone. And thelagging inluence by women in many organizations does the community a dis-service.Why is all this so important?Besides just plain airness, all the orga-nizations — rom the smallest start-up tothe largest ederations — need to harnessthe very best talent that’s out there. Tey need to not only attract, but also retain,the cream o the crop to drive their agen-das orward. Seasoned talent is needed toll the thousands o expected vacancies asbaby boomers begin to retire.Te gender disconnect is also a mind-
Th gnr isconnct