Unhappy with Orthodox practice? Then leave.

November 24, 2016 23:13

What truly absurd times we live in. At least the Brexiteers got it right. They tried to change the rules within the framework of the treaty. They failed, and recognising that the club was not for them, voted to leave.

I wish they hadn’t but they did, and both the EU and the UK will learn to live with that decision. Depressing though it is, there is logic to it. If you don’t like the rules, you try to change them within the framework of the rules and if you fail, you leave.

Not so it seems within our community. Miriam Shaviv seems to attack Chief Rabbi Mirvis, first for not bowing to a few who seek to change thousands of years of tradition, and then for not accepting a proposed new school that explicitly refuses to accept his halachic authority.

Where is the logic? If you are not prepared to accept Orthodox practice and cannot change it within the framework, then start your own club and stop trying to force your ideas on those of us who value the framework and honour the traditions.

Emma Barnett continues the absurdity. Emma is unable to understand our prayers or our order of service. As she acknowledges, rather than avail herself of the countless educational opportunities offered by the United Synagogue, Aish, JLE, SEED, PAL and many others, she seems to prefer a state of confusion.

No one is judging you Emma; but just because you don’t feel that you fit in, why do we have to change? Maybe you should strive to fit in by educating yourself. That way you would feel comfortable and enjoy the majesty of the prayers and warmth of our services.

At least in this era of absurdity, Ivor Jacobs (JC Letters October 28) talks some sense. For those who do not value our traditions, there are indeed other options. Whilst his option is not for me, he and his colleagues have created an environment that works for them. Just as Brexit will be beneficial to some stakeholders.

Back to the era of absurdity. In my shul, Rabbi Kaplan’s decision to allow a speaker from the right wing of Israeli politics is attacked by those on the left.

They are happy to undermine the rabbi’s authority. They demand that the speaker in question be denied a platform and they win. However, they see no contradiction in a speaker from the left wing of Israeli politics being invited to speak a week or two later.

This litany of absurdity is highlighted by Ben Shapiro in his book Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences Americans (Threshold Editions) where he refers to the left as the single greatest source of bullying in modern American life. Freedom of speech is fine, as long as it is putting forward an agenda that they agree with.

The parallels are stark. The left like to pretend that they are at the forefront of change but as the three examples that I have highlighted show, change is always within other people, never themselves. They seek to impose their views on me and, the many like me, who enjoy the current traditions.

Those who seek to change our traditions, attempt to quash us with rhetoric and insults. They attempt to make us look out of sync with society by constantly playing the archaic card and yes, the sexism card. They use every tactic to shut us up and then pretend that their behaviour is justified, because, after all, we are the bullies and need to be taught a lesson for our intolerance. What hypocrisy.

The Jewish people have survived for thousands of years due to our adherence to our traditions. Everyone, including Miriam and Emma, is welcome within our framework but we also recognise that our framework is not for everyone. All we ask is for some respect for our traditions.

Shimon Cohen is chairman of The PR Office, and a member of Hampstead Garden Suburb United Synagogue.

November 24, 2016 23:13

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