Working together works
by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2006-02-08
When Britain's Jewish community works together, amazing things can happen for the benefit of all. And when this begins, it's time as members of the community that we shout about it.
Yes, that's right, we need to shout about it in the most positive of ways. And that means, ever so often, we need to drop our titles of "Reform", "Federation", "United", "Masorti", "Liberal" and other tags and comment on how one Jew is doing something good for another Jew, which in turn will have a positive impact for the wider society.
Yes, it may take some pride for a United Synagogue rabbi to applaud the work of a Liberal rabbi, but once in a while, we should start doing this.
So when good things are happening, we need to really tell each other about it. We need to go beyond the usual keep quiet on good stuff, but make a big song and dance about the stuff that is not working or just worry about Jew on Jew fighting that contributes to a decline in inter-communal dialogue within our own community, let allow with others.
Earlier this week, the planned inclusive Jewish secondary school to be based in north London received a welcome boost to its plans to become the first school for Jewish pupils regardless of their background or affiliation to synagogue.
The Jewish Community Secondary School (JCoSS) in Barnet has been chosen by the Government to be part of a pilot scheme it will be running that will help parents direct new school provision.
JCoSS is the result of years of hard work by various sections of the community who have realised that as a community, it may not be appropriate to have a secondary school purely based on how frum you are, how frum you claim (but don't actually follow through) or even who you know to get your child in there. Sometimes, it is the later that determines it along with a financial contribution.
In a day and age where we as Jews work towards an inclusive society, why does the inclusive seem to exclude our own people? How have we allowed it so that certain members of our community will shake the hand of a non-Jew, yet fail to open arms to a fellow Jew just because they may interpret certain aspects of the Torah in a different and somewhat more modern way?
JCoSS aims to be an inclusive school. For years, we have become too exclusive not just to wider society but to ourselves and the result are showing for themselves what happens - apathy in Jewish pride and a drop in the Jewish population. Jews are good at being taught about other groups and communities, I look forward to seeing a school that understands the importance of not just teaching this, but also teaching Jews the importance of understanding and tolerance within their own community.
If we can start to foster better understanding among Jews of other Jews at an early age, then maybe there is hope for the adults as well and JCoSS is a good start to show that Jews can be inclusive and understanding of not only of others, but also of themselves as well.