Rabbis Without Borders
Rabbis Without Borders is a dynamic forum for exploring contemporary issues in the Jewish world and beyond. Written by rabbis of different denominations, viewpoints, and parts of the country, Rabbis Without Borders is a project of Clal – The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.
“I represent the Jewish community,” is not a statement that can be made today. There is no one “Jewish community.” There are Jewish Republicans and Jewish Democrat, liberal Jews, Conservative Jews, and Centrist Jews, synagogue-going Jews, and non-synagogue-going Jews, Baby boomer Jews , Gen X Jews, and Millennial Jews. I could go on and on…
I have always been attracted to the multiplicity of opinions and viewpoints that resides in Judaism. I love that the Talmud records multiple views on legal decisions even when one opinion because the law. The sacred books have commentaries on commentaries. There is an old joke that where there are two Jews there are three opinions.
So, why is it that several Jewish organizations are now stepping forward to claim that they represent “the Jewish community” when they are speaking about the nuclear deal with Iran. There is no “one community” to represent here. Nor is there one way to be “pro-Israel.” You can be “pro-Israel” by believing this deal will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and you can be “pro-Israel” by saying the deal will not keep Iran from building a nuclear weapon. Both sides are arguing what they think is best for the United States and for Israel
By all means, people should speak up, call their representatives and share their views, but please do not say that you are speaking for “the Jewish Community” or are the only one to hold a “pro- Israel” viewpoint. I believe that we, whoever defines themselves as Jews, can be a diverse group of people with different viewpoints while still sharing the same identity as Jews.
This is an identity that is not easily defined. Ask two Jews to define what makes them Jewish and you will get at least three opinions: We are a religion. We are a nation. We are an ethnicity. To all of these and more, I say, yes this is true. But what we are not is one community who all hold the same political beliefs. For centuries Jews have argued among ourselves and remained in relationship with each other, even admired each other for our learning, intellect, and analytical skills though we reached different opinions on a variety of matters.
So please speak up about your beliefs on the Iran deal, but do not claim to speak for all Jews.