I have a friend who is an Orthodox rabbi. OK, several. But one in particular has a great philosophy: it is fun to be Jewish.
I like that. And people like him.
But something isn’t fun for my friend, and that’s a
perceived bias against religious people. As he once mentioned, “people talk all about pluralism and diversity. Yet, there’s no place at the table for me.”
I never really thought about this issue until I was taking part in a webinar hosted by Joshua Venture. During the webinar, the presenter stressed that the cohort (the group of people who would be receiving their grants) needed to get along and be cohesive, while at the same time diverse. They wanted people to “meld well together”, I believe was the term.
At one point, a participant asked the question, “what if I am Orthodox? Will I fit in? Will I be a part of the cohesive group?” This webinar participant was echoing the same ethos as my friend, the rabbi: if I believe that God matters, will I matter to the Jewish community?
I think it’s sad that anyone would feel this way. Ahavat Yisroel does not mean “love the people we need to be seen loving so that we can appear open minded”. It means loving everyone. And everyone includes Orthodox Jews.
For my friends in the PunkTorah and OneShul community who identify as Orthodox, I want you to know that you are a part of this community, that you are loved and wanted, that your presence in the community heightens the community, not because you are our “Orthodox friends”, but because you are our friends…period!
Patrick Aleph is the founder and executive director of PunkTorah. He wants to be your friend, so find him on Facebook. When not working at PunkTorah, or teaching classes at OneShul, Patrick is a rabbinical student, musician and suffers from an addiction to overpriced coffee. He considers himself Flexidox, Pluralistic, and Frum-Curious.