Shma Now’s Al tifrosh min hatzibur

The October issue, – Al tifrosh min hatzibur; Do not separate yourself from the community, features art by Ruth Weisberg here.


From Sh’ma Now’s editor Susan Berrin:

When I first began framing this October issue of Sh’ma Now, I was thinking about community in relation to the upcoming presidential election. I was wondering about what it means to be part of a community that elects our leaders and how our sense of belonging to a particular campaign—and set of values and visions—plays out in an election cycle. Here are some highlights from the issue:

  • Stosh Cotler reflects on three terms in classical Hebrew for community: tziburkehillah, and edah. She writes that “instead of debating disparate policy proposals that speak in a language of shared values and commitments, we are debating those fundamental values and commitments.”
  • Rabbi Aaron Potek outlines three ways of understanding Hillel’s famous verse from Pirkei AvotAl tifrosh min hatzibur — Do not separate yourself from the community”: as an individual, interpersonally, and as part of the whole of Israel, klal YisraelPotekwelcomes readers into the issue by explaining that different understandings of our identity have allowed us to adapt to new surroundings and host societies, to become a diverse people.
  • Lex Rofes looks for a Jewish community where individuals will not feel pushed out of the community or compelled to exit it and distance themselves if their views aren’t welcomed.
  • Matthew Boxer discovers that the notion of a cohesive Jewish community is little more than a myth.
  • NiSh’maour simulated page of Talmud—includes Yakir Englander exploring sainthood and salvation; Rabbi Yoshi Fenton examining big disagreements within communities that remain respectful of differences; and Rabbi Jordana Schuster Battis suggesting that we need more empathy in community.
  • Consider and Converse is our robust guide to the issue and framework for discussion and learning. Take a look at the open-ended questions and bring them to your Shabbat table for discussion. Do we Jews, with the breadth of experiences, backgrounds, and beliefs, cohere as a people? Should we? How do you — as an American Jew — respond to the acclamations of others speaking on your behalf? Can you imagine any conditions that would make it a good thing to separate yourself from the community? What would those conditions be?

Read the October issue here: