The Jewish Report Editorial

Time for a bit of tolerance

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Can you imagine what this community would be like if we were all tolerant of each other and, instead of thinking the worst, had positive thoughts? It sounds wonderful, and would mean we would all get on, work well together, and see the best in each other. It also seems unbelievable, a “cloud-cuckoo-land” pipe dream.
by PETA KROST MAUNDER | Oct 29, 2020

In the past two weeks, as we witnessed growing discontent among people regarding the kashrut department and Union of Orthodox Synagogues (UOS), I have to admit I found it astonishing just how venomous people got.

When people have a genuine gripe, it’s easy to understand their anger, but when they don’t and simply jump on the anger bandwagon, it loses me totally. Yet, it happens.

People hear someone’s tale of discontent and supposed abuse, and they don’t always question their instant sympathy. They then happily spread the anger.

Before you know it, there’s an electric storm of rage and venom. In this case, it was unfortunately topped by an unpleasant clip of Chief Rabbi Dr Warren Goldstein voicing his unhappiness at how the situation was being dealt with in the media, and suggesting a form of protest.

I’m not getting into the nitty gritty of this argument or debate, it’s not relevant here.

However, what is relevant is that because of the anger that abounded, the chief rabbi suggested a no-holds-barred interview with himself, UOS board member Kenny Rabson, and the head of the kashrut department, Rabbi Dovi Goldstein. The chief rabbi gave his assurance that we could ask whatever we deemed necessary – and we did.

I won’t go into all the details because you’ll find them in the story on page 3, but I believe it had really positive outcomes. Many commitments were made to improve the situation by Rabson and the chief rabbi. They came across as genuine, with a real will to improve the situation for the community, mashgichim, consumers, and Jewish manufacturers and producers of kosher food.

They didn’t just speak about how they planned to improve things, they made very clear and pointed commitments. I believe they came across as open and honest, accepted their responsibility in this situation, and that a great deal could be improved on at the UOS.

I don’t believe I’m gullible, in fact, many say I’m too critical and questioning at the best of times. This is an occupational hazard of a journalist.

However, when I began hearing some people the following day mocking and questioning the integrity of those making the commitments, I was dumbfounded.

Why can’t we be tolerant? Why must we always look for the negative and the bad in people? Why not give people a chance, especially those who are willing to put their heads on the block to prove that their commitment is genuine?

Why not rather commit to keeping a close eye on what they are going to do to fix the situation? If you are one of the people with a genuine issue, take it to the structures being put in place, and see what can be done about it. Let’s rather give them the benefit of the doubt and the opportunity to prove that they are as committed to make this work as they say they are.

There is a strong school of thought that we make our reality. And, those who speak about the downfall of the Jewish community in this country because they can’t find the good in leadership may be creating such a scenario.

I understand that some people have had a rough time with the kashrut department, but the UOS board has now committed to putting a number of concrete things in place to deal with that.

So, are we going to shoot it down before it has even begun, or can we stop and give the UOS the opportunity to make it right?

Please can we stop badmouthing people, and try our best to look at the fact that promises have been made. Surely we all understand that if these promises are fulfilled, it could be outstanding for the whole community?

Now, I understand that there are, in fact, a lot of people who aren’t derisive and have thrown their support behind these commitments and the possibilities they offer. Once again, I’m not referring to everyone, but a small percentage of the community who have chosen to be doomsayers.

I do hope they don’t scupper the good that could be done for the rest of us.

You can be assured that the SA Jewish Report is going to keep an eye on the commitments the board and chief rabbi have made. We are going to follow this up all the way. That’s my commitment to you.

I do, however, trust that the commitment is genuine, and that there may well be glitches along the way. But as long as the process is transparent and there is integrity, we should experience a marked positive difference going forward. We will keep you in the loop.

I believe it would be far more helpful to be tolerant and try to see the effort that people are making to get things right for our community.

Shabbat Shalom!

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