Perth’s Jewish Community can be proud of honoring traditions while promoting paths of increasing inclusivity and diversity. The 10 January Maccabean reflected this phenomenon. Readers found one article addressing Israel’s recent recognition – and financial support – of Reform and Conservative congregations. The inside back cover addressed Perth Hebrew Congregation’s (relatively) progressive-halachic policy on inclusivity of women (I must confess, it would be most interesting to see an article on inclusivity of men in an orthodox congregation…ah well -babysteps).
Judaism has always offered a range of options and practices. Ancient Jews chose between the Pharasees’ and Sadducee’s approach. Shtetl Jews chose between the ways of the Chasideim, the Mitnagdeim and the Maskilim. Today we continue to celebrate a range of authentic Jewish options – each traditional, lenient, and evolving in its own particular way. Because each congregation and communal group will approach matters differently (such as our relationships to Israel and our understandings of women, men and mitzvah) we have more opportunities for each one of us to find our place in Perth’s Unique Jewish World.
From Talmudic times we’ve taught that “Every difference for the Sake of Heaven” will bear fruit (Pirke Avot 5:7). Indeed, the Talmud records minority, overturned perspectives, perhaps because all perspective may be worthy in some time or context. If we must focus on the differences between Chasidic – Progressive – Modern Orthodox – Secular – East – West – Gay – Straight -Halachically Born Jew by Choice – North of the River – South of the River, may we do so in a way which continues to celebrate inclusivity and diversity.