My colleague, Heather, sent me a rather… disheartening link today. Seems the folks over at the Yeshiva World News are wondering, “Are the Reform and Conservative Still Jewish?”
Working for an organization that largely serves Reform, Conservative, and unaffiliated Jews (though we certainly are a resource to some Orthodox too), she wondered what happens when the types of Jews we serve, and non-Jews too, come across discussions like these. Is there a way to let our demographics know that not all Jews are so hateful or judgmental? Is there a way to let those who are new to, or outside, the Jewish community understand that the extreme perspective demonstrated on discussion boards like YWN‘s are not how all Jews feel? (Not to mention that the majority of Jews are Reform, Conservative and unaffiliated, not Orthodox. The Orthodox folks in this conversation need to recognize that the people they are discussing are Jewish and follow a Judaism they hold as real and legitimate, even if some of the Orthodox do not.)
It reminded me of the struggle that the Muslim community has, whether or not they need to constantly distance themselves from Muslim extremists and remind the world that not all Muslims think/feel that way. While those extremists are violent, ours are just exclusionary, which is harder, in some ways, to combat. Do we as progressive Jews need to take up a similar PR campaign? Hang a banner, so to speak, somewhere to remind folks that we’re not all closed-minded and hateful?
So let’s just put it here: We are a welcoming, open, community for all types of Jews!
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