Road to Understanding

Israel is a democracy with a strong Orthodox Jewish influence in guiding government decisions (“Dividing Wall,” July 5). Within Israel, the government can decide who is a Jew and who can pray where and when. It is a matter of law in a sovereign state.

In recent years, there has been some tension between Jews in the U.S. and Israel over religious issues. Most recently, this has involved the issue of egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall. Another recent issue is Israel’s reluctance to recognize certain rabbis overseas as being reliable sources to certify a person’s Jewish identity. This has led some people to question unrestricted support for Israel while others have reaffirmed their support for Israel and its decisions. This has also increased tension among Jews in the U.S. over these and other religious issues.

There are many branches of Judaism such as Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist and Humanistic, among others. This reflects the many interpretations of Judaism, and from a philosophical perspective, all are equally true. Unfortunately, dialogue among these groups is diminishing, leaving many people to wonder where this is going. The rifts that are developing are very serious.

One way to diffuse the tension is to hold regional or local town hall meetings so that Jews with different orientations can sit and talk face to face to appreciate their similarities as well as their differences. A grassroots approach may be the way toward better understanding among the parties. Maybe some Jewish organization would be willing to sponsor this.

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