The assertions in Gary Rosenblatt’s article, “Has Jewish Infighting Finally Hit Bottom?” (Feb. 22) that “Jewish unity seems only to be reactionary, like after a synagogue is firebombed” and that “we need to be more strategic” is not borne out by the facts in Westchester County, where the Jewish community does the very sorts of things that are urged to be done.
The leadership of the Westchester Jewish Council, the JCRC of Westchester (a member of the JCRC of Greater New York and a beneficiary agency of UJA-Federation of New York) has spent the last 37 years in bringing the Westchester Jewish community together in facilitated roundtables and large-scale events for relationship-building, sharing of best practices and, as needed, constructive disagreement.
These efforts have unified the community in times of joy and at times of crisis. We have rallied in support of Israel and celebrated the richness of Jewish music and learning at biennial community-wide events. Such events, produced in partnership with many of our 149 member organizations, and funded in part by UJA-Federation, routinely attract hundreds of people from across the full spectrum of Westchester Jewry.
In recent years, consistent with Rosenblatt’s article, we recently began a “Building Bridges” program among the clergy of Westchester focusing on increasing overall civility in our Jewish community. A “Civility Statement”, produced by the Westchester Board of Rabbis and Kol Hazzanim, was signed by over 100 Westchester clergy calling on the community to follow in the footsteps of our sages, Hillel and Shammai, in respecting differences of opinion in the spirit of Ahavat Yisrael-love of Israel and her people.
We applaud and support the efforts of our friends at the JCRC of New York as they pursue increased civility and communal listening and as they encourage communities to more fully embrace the precept of “Achdut Yisrael-Jewish unity.
Ronald E. Burton,
Westchester Jewish Council