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Boca Raton, FL - Orthodox Shul Asks Members To Sign Pledge To Tolerance

Published on: November 26, 2013 10:38 AM
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Rabbi Efrem Goldberg (Facebook)Rabbi Efrem Goldberg (Facebook)

Boca Raton, FL - In response to a noticeable increase in terse and hostile commentary during discussions among members, which resulted in at least one congregant withdrawing her membership, a rabbi at a Boca Raton synagogue is asking all of its members to sign a pledge to use respectful and more tolerant discourse during events held at the Orthodox synagogue.

THE SUN SENTINEL (http://bit.ly/1aViFC6) reports that Rabbi Efrem Goldberg formed a committee to draft the Civility Statement, which he is now asking all of the 710-family congregation to sign and abide by.

Goldberg said the pledge, which allows for suspension for repeat offenders, has received mixed reviews so far.

“Some of the people who are resistant are the people for whom it was written,” Goldberg said. “We are not taking away anyone’s free speech. We are simply promoting treating people with courtesy and kindness.”

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Goldberg said he got the idea from a similar proclamation that was drafted and signed by Jewish leaders in Palm Beach County last year.

Goldberg said much of the hostility stemmed from tense discussions about last year’s presidential election, but it had gotten so bad that one woman withdrew from the congregation, saying she had been subjected to “animosity, hostility, loathing, criticism and even name-calling” for having differing political views.


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1

 Nov 26, 2013 at 10:45 AM Phineas Says:

You would have thought signing on to the Orthodox lifestyle would entail an implicit requirement to be civil but who are we kidding. Still, I would think a shul can kick out a member who is abusive whether or not he signed a pledge.

2

 Nov 26, 2013 at 11:12 AM Anonymous Says:

wrong attitude!

3

 Nov 26, 2013 at 11:28 AM BeisShammai Says:

I'm from Brooklyn and had to be in South Florida about 6 times last summer due to my Mother's a''h final illness. I stayed at a hotel close to this shul and davened there on a regular basis. I was super impressed with this shul. There were many morning minyanim, extremely friendly people, and good shiurim. (In addition, most of the doctors I needed to talk to could be found there.) If I was to ever relocate to South Florida, it would be near taht shul!

4

 Nov 26, 2013 at 12:45 PM liberalism is a disease Says:

He has so many libs there that he has to this?

5

 Nov 26, 2013 at 01:02 PM FinVeeNemtMenSeichel Says:

Reply to #3  
BeisShammai Says:

I'm from Brooklyn and had to be in South Florida about 6 times last summer due to my Mother's a''h final illness. I stayed at a hotel close to this shul and davened there on a regular basis. I was super impressed with this shul. There were many morning minyanim, extremely friendly people, and good shiurim. (In addition, most of the doctors I needed to talk to could be found there.) If I was to ever relocate to South Florida, it would be near taht shul!

Agreed

6

 Nov 26, 2013 at 03:44 PM enlightened-yid Says:

Tolerance is a dangerous secular value, it may lead to gay marriages and women being treated with equality and respect. Rabbi be careful what you wish for.

7

 Nov 26, 2013 at 04:46 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #6  
enlightened-yid Says:

Tolerance is a dangerous secular value, it may lead to gay marriages and women being treated with equality and respect. Rabbi be careful what you wish for.

Tolerance is a TORAH VALUE.

8

 Nov 26, 2013 at 06:25 PM The_Truth Says:

Its sad that Yiddishkeit has come to this - signing up to have some derech eretz.
Sadly, I wish all shuls & "frum" yidden in NY would do the same.

9

 Nov 26, 2013 at 04:46 PM CampRunamok Says:

Reply to #1  
Phineas Says:

You would have thought signing on to the Orthodox lifestyle would entail an implicit requirement to be civil but who are we kidding. Still, I would think a shul can kick out a member who is abusive whether or not he signed a pledge.

Yes, we would think that our grasp of Torah and of serving H' would elicit proper conduct. Unfortunately, we are humans, just like every other group, and have the same faults. And spare me the "holy neshama" talk; ours are covered up with the same muck and filth that every other nation possesses. Hopefully, this Rabbi's throwing down the gauntlet will make people notice and adjust their conduct accordingly.

"“Some of the people who are resistant are the people for whom it was written,” Goldberg said." That is pretty sad commentary indeed.

10

 Nov 26, 2013 at 05:15 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #6  
enlightened-yid Says:

Tolerance is a dangerous secular value, it may lead to gay marriages and women being treated with equality and respect. Rabbi be careful what you wish for.

So you're saying that we should not treat women respectfully? Or that we shouldn't accept geirim into our shuls? Or that we should shun all Jews who don't wear black hats? That, "enlightened yid", is tolerance, not your Chicken Little attitude.

11

 Nov 26, 2013 at 05:22 PM clear-thinker Says:

Reply to #4  
liberalism is a disease Says:

He has so many libs there that he has to this?

Not everyone can only worry about himself and attack anyone who calls for respectful and tolerant discourse. I don't believe that true conservatism is a disease, but your version certainly seems to be.

12

 Nov 26, 2013 at 05:59 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
liberalism is a disease Says:

He has so many libs there that he has to this?

No, it was in response to the right-wing crazies who attack anyone who disagree with them.

13

 Nov 26, 2013 at 06:42 PM Boruch N. Hoffinger Says:

Reply to #6  
enlightened-yid Says:

Tolerance is a dangerous secular value, it may lead to gay marriages and women being treated with equality and respect. Rabbi be careful what you wish for.

You said: "... women being treated with equality and respect."
Obviously you did not chose your words carefully. I know you don't mean that Jewish women shouldn't be treated decently.
Read what 'Rambam' says about speaking and writing — very informative and 'peace-producing.'

14

 Nov 26, 2013 at 06:43 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #7  
Anonymous Says:

Tolerance is a TORAH VALUE.

Of course it is. I am hard pressed to find a single posuk in any part of Torah that doesn't mention "tolerance."

15

 Nov 26, 2013 at 06:56 PM Rafuel Says:

I think the problem is with this shul's size; the article mentions "710-family congregation." Any kehillah of that size would almost certainly be very mixed: will include bnei torah along with men who are very tenuously and casually Jewish. We have all seen shuls like this: on any weekday small fraction of men shows up for a minyan, on Shabbos perhaps 100-150 men doven there, and twice a year, on Yomim Norayim, all 700 show up and make shul look crowded.

Such mixtures inevitably lead to multiple conflicts. It would be much healthier, and more practical, for this shul to split into several divergent ones where men of more or less similar hashkafos, goals and modes of behavior would naturally gravitate. And they will find it much easier to get along with each other.

16

 Nov 26, 2013 at 11:42 PM jack-l Says:

its always easier to split than work things out that why we have som many schools shteiblech and rebbes.
you statement of facts about a 700 plus family is also inccorect.
In toronto they have the BAYT. it has over 7 hundred families. Last shabbos we had a few families from New york , mishpacha to the baal simcha . they were blown away

B H In the morning there are 3 early minyanim starting as soon as halacha allows the 645 has over 150 men every day the other 2 about 50 to 100.
the next 3 minyanim total a couple of hundred more
On shabbos there are a dozen minyanim. The main shul about 700 to 900 men. and about another 400 in the other minyanim a few hundred women and about a t500 kids....every shabbos. BH
on yom tov standing room only in the main shul it only hold 1800.
yomim niroyim about 2 and a half to 3 thousand, adults, BH
u r a chochom from peltz put that in your pipe and smoke it.
a freilechin chanuka.

17

 Nov 27, 2013 at 12:31 AM Respect Says:

This is a beautiful idea, to get an entire kehilla committed Ben adam lchaveiro. I hope this becomes a trend across the world.

Don't let the word tolerance throw you. This is about being respectful and speaking bnachas to ones neighbors. This is all the word means.

18

 Nov 27, 2013 at 12:47 AM rabbiyisroel Says:

Reply to #15  
Rafuel Says:

I think the problem is with this shul's size; the article mentions "710-family congregation." Any kehillah of that size would almost certainly be very mixed: will include bnei torah along with men who are very tenuously and casually Jewish. We have all seen shuls like this: on any weekday small fraction of men shows up for a minyan, on Shabbos perhaps 100-150 men doven there, and twice a year, on Yomim Norayim, all 700 show up and make shul look crowded.

Such mixtures inevitably lead to multiple conflicts. It would be much healthier, and more practical, for this shul to split into several divergent ones where men of more or less similar hashkafos, goals and modes of behavior would naturally gravitate. And they will find it much easier to get along with each other.

i live in the neighborhood. Boca Raton has three Orthodox shuls and three Chabads. All are doing well as far as participation. BRS (Boca Raton Synagogue) has 6 daily minyanim, all well attended and (probably 300-400 men daily) and five minyanim on Shabos (plus a teen minyan and a youth minyan) , cumulative minyan attendance on shabos is probably every man, most children and half of the women who live in the neighborhood.
There is a mix, of bnai Torah and people who drive but park away from the shul (quite a number of the currently shomer shabos members stared their journey that way before making the decision to sell their homes and move closer to the shul!), Sefardim and Ahkenazim. One unique aspect that makes BRS a good place is the tolerance and respect for one another that has been a cornerstone since Kenny Brander became the rabbi 25 ? years ago and remains so with Rabbi Goldberg.
For twenty years i had lived in neighborhoods and davened in shuls where men of more or less similar hashkafos, goals and modes of behavior band together. The disdain for others, who are not like "us" becomes apparent in such places.

19

 Nov 27, 2013 at 12:52 AM LechLecha Says:

Reply to #15  
Rafuel Says:

I think the problem is with this shul's size; the article mentions "710-family congregation." Any kehillah of that size would almost certainly be very mixed: will include bnei torah along with men who are very tenuously and casually Jewish. We have all seen shuls like this: on any weekday small fraction of men shows up for a minyan, on Shabbos perhaps 100-150 men doven there, and twice a year, on Yomim Norayim, all 700 show up and make shul look crowded.

Such mixtures inevitably lead to multiple conflicts. It would be much healthier, and more practical, for this shul to split into several divergent ones where men of more or less similar hashkafos, goals and modes of behavior would naturally gravitate. And they will find it much easier to get along with each other.

I'm trying to be civil... but your response is really testing me.
Large congregations do tend to have a relatively small core group who keep the minyanim going; and a larger number of Shabbat regulars. But let's not lose sight of the fact that those 550+ occasional attendees are the ones who's dues and pledges balance the shul's budget. So I wouldn't dismiss 3/4 of the congregation so casually if I were you.

The whole message in this story is TOLERANCE, not splitting a thriving congregation into fragments because a few can't control their "animosity, hostility, loathing, criticism and even name-calling." The issue here isn't segregating yourself and only associating with people who agree with you. But rather, conducting yourself with civility and toleration among people who have a different point of view. And you know what? It works. Opinions are never changed by intimidation, but are often swayed with respectful discourse.

20

 Nov 27, 2013 at 02:20 AM Mark Levin Says:

Reply to #12  
Anonymous Says:

No, it was in response to the right-wing crazies who attack anyone who disagree with them.

That's funny because it's the looney left that gives us speeches about civility yet they give us uncivil people like Hussein Obama, Chuck U Schumer, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi. ....

Need I go on?

21

 Nov 27, 2013 at 08:31 AM savtat Says:

Jews are a wonderful people with many forceful opinions. And, occasionally, we have a "blind spot" when it comes to political ideas and even sometimes to religious factions. Kudos to Rabbi Goldberg for fostering a civil conversation. You don't have to agree with everyone else, but you have to have respect for the person you are talking to.

22

 Nov 27, 2013 at 08:50 AM Middle America Says:

In Pittsburgh we have over ten people for a minyan! Sometimes up to 12. Rabbi Swift talks about tolerance and sometimes about the Parshah as well.

23

 Nov 27, 2013 at 01:11 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #20  
Mark Levin Says:

That's funny because it's the looney left that gives us speeches about civility yet they give us uncivil people like Hussein Obama, Chuck U Schumer, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi. ....

Need I go on?

May I ask if you have any mirrors in your house and, if so, have you ever looked in one?

24

 Nov 27, 2013 at 05:36 PM Rafuel Says:

Reply to #16  
jack-l Says:

its always easier to split than work things out that why we have som many schools shteiblech and rebbes.
you statement of facts about a 700 plus family is also inccorect.
In toronto they have the BAYT. it has over 7 hundred families. Last shabbos we had a few families from New york , mishpacha to the baal simcha . they were blown away

B H In the morning there are 3 early minyanim starting as soon as halacha allows the 645 has over 150 men every day the other 2 about 50 to 100.
the next 3 minyanim total a couple of hundred more
On shabbos there are a dozen minyanim. The main shul about 700 to 900 men. and about another 400 in the other minyanim a few hundred women and about a t500 kids....every shabbos. BH
on yom tov standing room only in the main shul it only hold 1800.
yomim niroyim about 2 and a half to 3 thousand, adults, BH
u r a chochom from peltz put that in your pipe and smoke it.
a freilechin chanuka.

I know BAYT shul very well, by the way it's not in Toronto proper, it's in the suburb of Thornhill, and I am familiar with it's problems. I will not air them here.

Freilichen Chanuka!

25

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