A response to one of our long-term planning survey questions read, “I’d like to see more large communal gatherings, like our community Shabbat dinner and Chanukah on Jay, where no one cares about denomination.” You’ve probably guessed by now that this is my jam. I like finding common ground, building consensus, overcoming political and religious differences to find points of agreement.
Albany’s community Shabbat dinner boasted 400 people. One thousand people showed up on Jay Street for Chanukah. And it’s true that no one cared about denomination, but we worked hard to make sure that was the case. Our committees looked at issues, one at a time, to try to avoid any conflicts. For the most part, we did pretty well. There are always missteps, but not enough to spoil the good times.
Monday night’s rally to support Israel was different. Between our in-person attendance and on-line presence, we had around 2,000 people hear our program, and no one cared about any of our differences. We were all there for a single purpose. Our people are suffering and in danger, and we need to help.
And this unity is not just happening here. Two weeks ago, thousands of Israelis took to the streets to march against the government and proposed judicial reform. Thousands more took to the streets to support the government and judicial reform.
Yesterday, Israel’s parliament approved an emergency national unity government, and no one has spoken about judicial reform in over a week. Former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett described the situation yesterday as, “Israel has no left and right . . . there’s no religious and secular.”
It appears that political and religious differences are peace-time luxuries. Let’s pray for the day when we can return to those priorities.