Like many of you, I have been following the discussion this summer in The Jewish Link about tuition, expenses and ideas for problem solving in our community. It has been helpful to hear several voices and reassuring to know that thinking individuals are concerned and trying to help. This dialogue culminated with the very sensitive topic of tuition assistance two weeks ago. Last week’s responses indicated that this topic is one that evokes strong feelings.
It seemed particularly interesting that the most heightened dialogue was taking place during the Three Weeks and the Nine Days—especially since this summer, baruch Hashem, we have been virtually flooded with messages of ahavat Yisrael. These include: the amazing chesed in the community and beyond; the Three Weeks Challenge posed by Rabbi and Rebbetzin Glick; the outstanding Vayichan program organized by Yeshivat Hakotel, with so many shiurim on ahavat Yisrael; the many community rabbanim speaking on this subject; and the Israeli documentary series that brings families of chozrim b’teshuva to greater appreciation and understanding for each other. On the surface, I feared that the conversations we were having in our community at this particular moment seemed to be veering in a contrasting direction. But that erroneous concern stemmed from my lack of understanding. I didn’t appreciate what was really happening around us. While superficially, this larger conversation about community expenses might echo one message, in truth, it conveys a much more powerful fact that is synchronous with the ahavat Yisrael all around us.
This occurred to me when my son asked me why The Jewish Link printed a letter (completely unrelated to tuition) that questioned a decision the newspaper had made. I responded that printing a letter that disagreed with their position was incredibly courageous and, ideally, one of the missions of a newspaper—to be a home for sharing different perspectives. Giving voice to contrasting points of view may seem like an obvious obligation of individuals and institutions, but an honest willingness to learn about and understand another’s experience, as well as an openness to hearing the other side of anything, really, takes courage, grace and heroism.
There is much courage, grace and heroism in what I read in all The Jewish Link’s issues this summer. A sharing of experiences, a recognition of another perspective, the acknowledgement of another’s pain, and an interest to both clarify one part of the equation and learn more about the other— that is perfectly aligned with ahavat Yisrael. I thank The Jewish Link for providing a home for communal dialogue and demonstrating a paradigm for civil discourse.
May we also have the courage and clarity to listen to other perspectives for the purpose of understanding and caring for each other. In that zechut, may we merit individual and collective redemption from all the narrow spaces in our lives, in whatever forms they may take.Grunny Zlotnick