Three Ladies, Three Lattes: Shana Tova

Secular Pam, modern Orthodox Tzippi and haredi Danit answer your questions.

A Rosh Hashana l’haim with lattes: (from left) Danit Shemesh, Tzippi Sha-ked and Pam Peled (photo credit: PR)
A Rosh Hashana l’haim with lattes: (from left) Danit Shemesh, Tzippi Sha-ked and Pam Peled
(photo credit: PR)
I always read your column with much interest, but it seems to me there is no point of commonality between you. Is there any way to bridge the huge gaps among you three, and the different sectors in Israel? With Rosh Hashana coming up, have you got any sort of positive message for your readers?
Hopeful in Modi’in
Tzippi Sha-ked:
In times of trouble, television’s Mr. Rogers advised looking for “the helpers” in our midst.
While no one can single-handedly bridge the huge gaps plaguing our society, we can work on collecting “helpers” (ace bandages) along the way.
My Rosh Hashana prescription:
• Let’s surround ourselves this year with people who seek to repair fractures as opposed to tearing down even basic building blocks.
• Form friendships across the religious spectrum. Make an effort to visit communities you may fear or resent.
• Bring the helpers into your orbit.
There are others who are ready to join in efforts to unite the Jewish people.
• Don’t participate in conversations that bash your fellow Jew.
• Shine a light on problem-solving skills instead of condemning the situation.
You may wonder how we three ladies sustain an ongoing dialogue; it’s actually pretty straightforward. We focus on things we have in common. Our love of family, lattes and friendship are but a few of our mutual interests. While our views on a myriad of topics are so different, we take a time-out from our quibbles whenever things get too heated.
While it may not always seem apparent, I often side with Pam on many of the issues we explore. Where I disagree with her has more to do with how she apportions blame, without offering any constructive approach or solutions. I believe “tone” accounts for at least half of our problems.
Shana Tova and may tov sprout forth from our lips.
Danit Shemesh:
Indeed, we find the mission of overcoming our factionalism impossible. Fear of the other fuels fires that melt our social fabric. Dissociation and schisms seemingly protect us from perceived threats. But the price is remaining ignorant of each other’s true function in the gestalt called the Nation of Israel. We lose sight of the significance of each respective job.
Each of us lives by an Ani ma’amin, an existential credo, which becomes our hard-core survival memo. The problem is that we all think our way is the right way. Gulliver, in his travels, discovered a multigenerational war over which end of a boiled egg to crack – symbolizing the ongoing religious wars between Catholic France and Protestant England.
Everyone perceives other credos as threatening. Pam believes in excelling professionally, while self-actualizing. Tzippi believes in seamlessly joining science and Scripture. I hold this world as simply a means to a more sublime end; a physical space which suggests a metaphysical invitation to plug in and rise above fear. We take ourselves too seriously in thinking we should save the world. What is truly expected of us is to stay close to the Boss’s word. Yes, there is an ultimate Boss.
The Prophet Isaiah says the world is heading toward a place where sheep will peacefully live beside lions. The very different will tranquilly coexist – an entirely divine feat.
Meanwhile, we must eschew evil and not succumb to a mob mentality which feeds our primitive love-to-hate piece. That goads anger and self-righteousness. Ultimately, we are all sisters with one common Father.
Pam Peled:
Look, of course I’d like to say – in a sweet tone – that yes, we have our differences, but underneath our scarves or miniskirts we are all sisters with Jewish hearts that beat as one, etc. La-di-da. Hallelujah.
I love Israel; I’d like to be optimistic.
However, when our august interior minister, the honorable Arye Deri, proclaims that National Religious rabbis are no better than Reform (and we know what the honorable Deri thinks of Reform), and the honorable Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem Shlomo Amar announces that Reform Jews “are worse than Holocaust deniers,” it’s a challenge to see any unity. Deri views “different” as “inferior,” and Deri is an honorable man, who controls my life-cycle events. Amar, a former chief rabbi of Israel, called other Jews “cursed, evil people.” And Amar is an honorable man.
So yes, I could say “I love Danit; I love Tzippi.” But my love is tempered by palpable disgust that part of my hard-earned salary goes to subsidize Danit’s sons’ yeshiva habit – what the hell? And that neither her sons, and of course not her daughters, joined mine in the army. And that her boys, even if they wanted to work, have no skills – so I’ll be subsidizing them forever. And they each aim to have 10 kids.
It’s hard for me to find the love.
As Yom Kippur hits, I believe anyone who is a drain on society has a lot to atone for. And so do the productive, for enabling the craziness.
I hope this year we work it all out.
Comments and questions: