Politics

Emily Goldberg
January 26, 2012
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I despise politics.

Between the Democratic hippies and the right-wing Republicans, I consider myself somewhere in the middle, where most of the ignorance lies. I simply do not see the point for politics to consume the lives of average Americans. Because of politics, families have been torn apart; something as futile as a misunderstood speech or discussion creates more wars than unity. Past presidents have had their lives jeopardized by extremists who disagree with their personal and religious values. Therefore, I do not believe that established politics of any form should be preached from the bimah or voiced in a synagogue.

My genuine odium toward politics was not derived from my own Jewish community. In fact, I was blessed with a synagogue whose spiritual leader refrained from sharing his political views altogether. My rabbi’s sermons regarding Israel presented every political angle of a situation, but never concluded with one formal approach. When interrogated about upcoming elections, my rabbi refuses to share his preferred presidential candidate.  While many congregants find his confidentiality to be unnecessary in the modern rabbinic world, I admire him for it. I can only hope that one day, when I stand before a Jewish community of my own, I will remain impartial and open-minded.

As a spiritually seeking seventeen year old, I just want answers. I am always formulating questions regarding the existence of God, faith, and new approaches to spirituality. When I take these questions to the Jewish leaders that surround me, I only want religious opinions. Unfortunately, I have been told that there are too many political boundaries between different Jewish denominations to break in order to find the answers I need. “Don’t listen to that rabbi’s answer; he’s doesn’t support Israel!” “That congregation does not serve Kosher Kiddush lunches; we cannot eat with those ‘goyim.’” “That synagogue plays music on Friday nights; how could that rabbi teach you about God when he, himself, won’t even follow the laws of the Torah?!” I learned to abhor politics when they hindered my personal connection to Judaism. Never again will I settle for anything less than the theological answers I need in order to grow in my faith. When cruel gossip is incorporated with one’s religious opinion, I simply shrug and keep searching for truth. It is a shame, however, how politics both inside and outside a Jewish community can diverge its future generations rather than unify them.

Is it even possible to eradicate politics entirely within our own Jewish communities? Will we ever see a day where congregations can be unified based solely on faith?

Until that day arrives, it should be our obligation to avoid the political flaws that distract us throughout our respective faith journeys. Judaism may be an ever-evolving faith, but its values of kehilla kedosha, a holy community, are everlasting. Let us take our faith to new heights while we grow closer as a Jewish community, completely void of the politics that attempt to diverge us.

May Judaism become an apolitical faith once again; let our leaders be inspired to guide spiritual communities of any size, and let those communities reconnect to the solid roots of our faith.

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Emily Goldberg is a freshman at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania. She loves sharing her perspective on faith and religion, especially with her own growing Jewish community. She began recording her own ideas in her blog, “A Leap of Faith.” In the future, she hopes to pursue interfaith studies, social action, theology, and writing. This past summer she joined a life-long community of Jewish thinkers and leaders, The Bronfman Youth Fellowships in Israel. This year, she pursued her passion for spiritual leadership through her rabbinic internship at Romemu [www.romemu.org], her pastoral internship at St. Patrick's Cathedral and her job as a counselor at Camp Ramah Darom in Georgia. She hopes to lead a liberal and innovative Jewish community of her own someday, one where others can be inspired to pursue coexistence and positive change.

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