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Some Questions

by Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.

The following initially appeared in my synagogue’s newsletter.

With our spectacular growth (thank God) as a Jewish Community, is there a danger of complacency and self-satisfaction? I believe there is always a need for challenging ourselves as to whether or not we are doing all we can to apply our Jewish teachings. Therefore I would like to pose some respectful questions (aimed at least as much at me as at anyone else).

* What would the prophets say about our society today? about Judaism in our time? about our Synagogue activities?

* Why so few dreams of a better world based on the application of Jewish values?

* Are we segregating God In our synagogues? If God is sanctified by justice and righteousness, why are we so complacent in the face of an unredeemed, immoral and unjust world?

* Are we taking Jewish ethical Ideals and prophetic teachings seriously enough?

* If "to save one life Is to save an entire world", should we be more involved in efforts to reduce threats to life from disease, hunger, poverty, and pollution?

* If we are Implored "justice, justice, shall you pursue" and "let justice well up as waters and righteousness as a mighty stream," should we be more involved in reducing threats from poverty, corruption at all levels of government, and corporate malpractice that affects our health and safety?

* If all people are created In God's image and we all have one Father, are we doing enough to reduce bigotry?

* Are we defining Jewish commitment too narrowly, In terms of adherence to ritual only? Shouldn't Jewish commitment also include sensitivity to moral and ethical values and social Idealism? Have we forgotten amidst our many study groups that it Is not study that Is the chief thing but action.

* Are we too complacent In the face of the spiritual suicide of so many American Jews?

* Have we forgotten who we are and what we stand for and Whom we represent? Have we forgotten our roles: to be a chosen people, a light unto the nations, a holy people, descendents of the prophets, (the greatest champions of social justice).

* If Jews really put our splendid tradition into practice, can you imagine how much better our world would be?

I conclude these questions with a statement that the late Senator Robert Kennedy often quoted:

"Some see things as they are and ask why,
I dream of things that have never been and ask why not?"