Progressively Speaking: We should break down barriers, not point finger of blame

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Progressively Speaking: We should break down barriers, not point finger of blame

Rabbi Charley Baginsky takes a topical issues and offers a Progressive response

Since Jewish News revealed Covid rule-breaking at a strictly-Orthodox wedding on its front page two weeks ago, it has dominated discussions within our community.

Like many, I was shocked and saddened by what I saw. But the big question for us all is: where do we go from here?

Nothing will come of us simply repeating how awful it was. Rather, we can all use the strange times in which we live to build relationships that can make a real difference and strengthen our entire community.

One of the most interesting things that has happened during this pandemic is the (virtual) round tables where parts of the Jewish community that never usually talk to each other are regularly in conversation.

I’ve spoken more to the Orthodox community in the past 12 months than in the previous 12 years combined. And not just Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and other United Synagogue leaders but those who represent the strictly-Orthodox too.

Our talks have helped break down barriers and that is the key here.

It’s very easy to criticise what happened at the wedding and other Stamford Hill gatherings, but we must also ask ourselves how can we actually achieve change?

There’s no point shouting at people when you’re speaking a different language.

As a Progressive community, we need to start to understand the Charedi community and get them the right information in the right language – and by that I don’t mean Yiddish, but in a way that is sensitive to their community and way of life.

For me this goes beyond Covid. We must continue to develop conversations and relationships that can only help in the future.

There are lots of discussions that need to be had in the months and years ahead, from tackling sexual abuse to ensuring education for girls.

And we’re not going to get there by shouting, castigation and public criticism – but rather by building a pathway to conversation and finding out how we can talk to each other.

Rabbi Charley Baginsky is chief executive officer of Liberal Judaism


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