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December 19, 1986 - Image 47

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-12-19

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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establish a climate of opinion
within the Jewish communi-
ty that encourages us to ask
about the relationship be-
tween money and leadership.
If we want a morally strong
Jewish community, we must
each be prepared to violate
the community consensus by
speaking out in the face of
wrong, sometimes privately
and sometimes publicly.
Firmly rejecting wrongdoing
every time we see it is the
only way to make it clear that
we will not tolerate it among
us. It is astounding, for exam-
ple, that a major Jewish or-
ganization waited for nursing
home owner Bernard Bergman
to become a convicted felon
before it removed him from of-
fice. That happened because
not enough of us said public-
ly what virtually all of us
were thinking.
We each know how difficult
speaking out can be. We can
lose friends, estrange col-
leagues, even risk losing a
promotion or our very jobs.
We risk sharp disagreements
because we do nat necessari-
ly share the same standards.
Making moral disagreements
explicit is both a risky and a
difficult enterprise, but moral
clarity is a necessity for
Jewish living, not a luxury
item. It is the very means of
Jewish survival because with-
out our claim to moral integri-
ty Jewish survival lacks com-
pelling content amidst the
pleasures afforded by life in
America.
Speaking out carries with it
another danger, the chance of
falsely indicting someone, or
of creating a McCarthyesque
climate of repression of
political or personal enemies
under the guise of moral puri-
ty. We certainly must be
vigilant to prevent that from
happening, but as far as the
areas of money and personal
ethics are concerned, at this
point in history that danger
seems minor compared to the
danger of losing our moral
compass.
Third, in the way that we
involve our families in Jewish
life, we should take every op-
portunity to reenforce the
message of moral obligation.
In my family it is the custom
to have our child put some
coins in the pushke before we
light Shabbat candles. Corn-
pared to giving with a check-
book, the amount of money
involved is trivial. But in the
life of our family, it has great
significance. That ritual act
provides a wonderful oppor-
tunity to talk about money,
why we need it, and what
things it is right to do with it.
Both ritual and dialogue are
crucial in making that a
meaningful moment.
Rabbi Teutsch is director of
programs at the Reconstruc-
tionist Rabbinical College.

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47

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