No third way
The so-called “Dweck affair” looked as if it might cause a deep schism in the Orthodox community. Praise must therefore go to Chief Rabbi Mirvis, who sought to close down the burgeoning crisis, even though the controversy was within the Sephardi and not Ashkenazi community. Praise must also go to Rabbi Mirvis for setting up a review committee and coming to a conclusion within just a few weeks – others in the political world might want to take note of the speed with which decisions can sometimes be made. Many will be pleased at what they see as the solution, which allows Rabbi Dweck to keep his job and seems to keep the community together. Others, however, may think that the Chief Rabbi has come up with the only possible verdict: a compromise which might hold for now, but will soon be subject to buffeting from all sides, not least because it does not fully address the reasons for which Rabbi Dweck came under fire, regarding homosexuality and feminism. These are issues which reflect the society we live in and which will not go away. They will recur again and again.
Who would have guessed it? The main reason why people belong to a synagogue, according to our latest JC survey, is to pray, at least if you’re young. Older people join for burial rights, which tells its own story, while more than a fifth of women (and 14 per cent of men) cite the social aspect of shul-going as being the main draw. But while these are the main reasons why people join a shul, there are other factors that make each successful one extra special. And as Gloria Tessler writes in our features section this week, chief among them is something that is hard to pin down and extremely difficult to replicate: an emotional attachment.