Seeking to Bridge Rifts among Jews

The Christian Century, March 10, 1999 | Go to article overview

Seeking to Bridge Rifts among Jews


In 1994 the Synagogue Council of America, for 70 years North American Judaism's only interdenominational rabbinic voice, collapsed under the weight of internal bickering between the group's Orthodox and non-Orthodox members. Since then, the gulf between Judaism's traditional and more liberal elements has grown wider.

With rabbis on both sides routinely denouncing each other's actions, it's easy to conclude that the common ground that once bound together the Jewish community's diverse elements has all but disappeared. "The perception in the Jewish community is that the rabbinate has become a dysfunctional family," said Marc Schneier. "We're here to show that's not the case."

Schneier is the driving force behind the newly organized North American Boards of Rabbis, which hopes to revive the spirit of cooperation that characterized the SCA'S earlier years. The idea behind NABOR is to bring together on a continental scale those Orthodox and non-Orthodox rabbis who have already displayed a commitment to interdenominational cooperation by being members of local boards of rabbis. By way of contrast, SCA membership was restricted to selected representatives of six Orthodox, Conservative and Reform rabbinic and congregational organizations--not all of them equally committed to interdenominational cooperation. …

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