Today is January 25, 2020 -

New Program Idea?

A few weeks ago, I shared some new program ideas and invited everyone to share their new ideas with me. So far, I have received one intriguing response.
While in the midst of the #metoo era, we are learning of new accusations directed toward former Vice President Biden for inappropriate touching. Most of us have recently learned in our sexual harassment training about what constitutes “inappropriate.” We focus on the feelings of the touched and not necessarily on the intentions of the toucher. Within our Jewish community, attitudes range (as in other communities) based on a host of factors, including culture, generation, and denomination. Some of our synagogues are more “huggy-kissy” than others. Can we perhaps put together a panel discussion with rabbinic, sociological, legal, and educational experts to explore?
My initial reaction was, “I’m not touching this one.” (Pun intended.)
I belong to a modern orthodox synagogue. The rules for the male/female interaction are straightforward. In other places, not so much. In my professional capacity, I am all over the Jewish community and I try to keep in mind synagogue cultures and individual preferences. At all Federation events, I greet at the front door. Some like to greet with a handshake. Some offer up a hug and others a cheek.
Sometimes I am asked, “Do you touch?” That is pretty good. Let us not assume. It is safer to ask.
One woman asked me recently, “Do we kiss?” I liked that question a lot. She might kiss, and I might kiss, but do we greet each other with a kiss?
Intention is very important, and I do not want to minimize it, but it is even more important that everyone feels comfortable in our Jewish community. If we are to be the warm and welcoming community that we strive to be, then we must ensure it. Perhaps a little education in this area would be worthwhile.

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