When is a compromise not a compromise?


A month ago, the board of Women of the Wall, leaders of the Reform and Conservative movements in North America and Israel announced that they had reached an agreement with the Israeli government that would, for the first time, give official recognition of these non-Orthodox streams of Judaism. What a victory! What a cause for celebration!

That is, until you learn the price of this accomplishment — the rights of women to pray at the Kotel, according to their custom.

The right of all Jewish women to pray at the Kotel “according to their custom” was recognized in an Israeli Supreme Court decision in 2003 and reaffirmed in an appellate court in 2013. This recognition was granted as a result of Women of the Wall’s consistent and regular prayer at the Kotel since 1988. This means that women who choose to pray  at the Kotel as a group, who choose to wrap themselves in a tallit, choose to wear tefillin and choose to read Torah may do so; just as any Jewish man has been allowed to do. 

Somehow, after 25 years of insisting that only the Kotel would suffice for their monthly Rosh Chodesh prayers, Women of the Wall have all of sudden said, “We all need to compromise.” 

Perhaps they were confused in their translation and actually meant “capitulate.” They have agreed to move their prayers to Robinson’s Arch, an archaeological site adjacent to the Western Wall once referred to as “the back of the bus,” while ultra-Orthodox Jews who oppose independent women’s prayer at the Kotel (and anywhere else), along with the Israeli government, have given up nothing!

These bullies are celebrating that they are rid of “these women.” They won’t have to see, hear or deal with them anymore.

A friend of mine, a Conservative rabbi in the U.S., wrote to me explaining why he supports the deal even while recognizing the injustice of it. He wrote: “I certainly understand your concerns that the agreement essentially cedes control of the main part of the Kotel to the ultra-Orthodox, that women’s prayer groups are now effectively banned, and that women’s prayer groups may be uncomfortable in an egalitarian prayer space. This deal is not what you, or any of us, really wanted. As a person of principle, it’s no surprise that you are upset and disappointed.”

As a matter of principle, every Jew should have equal access to the Western Wall. Every Jew should be able to pray there in his or her own way. The Western Wall belongs to all of us. We should be able to find a way to share the space that is respectful for everyone. 

Why should those of us who believe in egalitarian prayer or in women’s prayer groups be shunted off to the side? Giving up access to the main area of the Kotel in exchange for the promise of a smaller area on the side that has yet to be built, will not be fully funded by the Israeli government and may even get blocked in the Knesset, is, from the standpoint of justice, a really bad deal. So, we are not giving up!

I believe in the principle that women should be allowed to pray as a group at the Western Wall, reading from the Torah and wearing tallit and tefillin, if they so choose. Giving up our principled stand is a huge loss and something that does not have to happen.  So, we are not giving up! 

It may be that, due to the power of the ultra-Orthodox in the coalition, there is almost no chance that things will change at the Western Wall any time soon. It may be that 50 years from now, our granddaughters and great-granddaughters will still be going to the Kotel every Rosh Chodesh and fighting harassment and arrest to exercise their rights. We are not giving up!

Our granddaughters will be grateful that we didn’t!


Cheryl Birkner Mack, formerly a board member of Women of the Wall, resigned her post after the decision was made to begin negotiations with the government of Israel to move to Robinson’s Arch. She has joined with founders and other longtime supporters to create Original Women of the Wall. She is an educator living in Jerusalem.

Let’s play horsie!


It was a strange series of events that led me to being on a horse, too early in the morning, while I was on vacation in Hawaii.

I had only been horseback riding once
before, during the one summer I worked at a sleep-away camp. The experience had not left a positive memory, as nearly all my campers hated it, it was hot, and my horse, lovingly named Elmo, had nearly run me into a tree.

So how did I end up in this precarious position? Well, my boyfriend and I were in Hawaii and, in the spirit of “trying one another’s likes,” we had taken turns choosing activities that sounded like fun. I chose para-sailing, he chose jet skiing; I chose zip lining, and he chose horse back riding. I definitely was not pleased with the idea of actually spending money to sit atop a very large animal that either would, or would not, traumatize me. But I knew that I would just have to grin and bear it.

After all, that is how relationships work, right?

Give and take, compromise, and try new things; I had previously tried and liked camping, so who knows, maybe I needed a second attempt at horseback riding to really like it.

Now, I’ve never been an animal person. I’m convinced that whatever part of an animal-liking gene I should have been born with was divided between my older brother and younger sister. Each of them must have gotten an extra helping, leaving me with a barely palpable amount of animal tolerance. I’m the type who will wave at a dog — unlike my siblings, who will throw themselves on the floor in a puddle of baby-like cooing.

The minute we got near the horses, I vividly remembered just how much of a non-animal person I truly was. But I straddled the horse and proceeded to hold on for dear life. So there I was, in the middle of a white-knuckled-grip ride down a too steep, rain soaked trail, and not happy in the least. My boyfriend, on the other hand was grinning from ear to ear, bringing his horse to “say hello” to mine.

I decided to try to make the best of it. As we meandered down the trail, I started looking around and enjoying the fabulous scenery. The lush green hills dropping off to a sparkling sunlit ocean sent my photography senses tingling; only trouble was, I was afraid to let go and get my camera out of its very secure case. So I decided to just enjoy the scenery, as we slowly walked by.

Sounds good, right? The trouble was that my horse, Buster, had a slight eating disorder, and viewed the entire trail as a meandering all-you-can-eat salad bar. Every few steps Buster would stop, graze, I would pull up on the reigns (as my boyfriend kept telling me to do), give a little kick (as the guides told me to do) and urge the horse forward with some positive reinforcement.

“Come on horsey, you can eat lunch later!” When that didn’t work I tried, “Come on Buster,” pulling up on the reigns and giving a nudge, “Come on!”

Nothing worked. My horse was backing up the single-file line of riders, and I was getting frustrated.

Why did this have to happen to me? The first time I went horseback riding, my horse had a challenged sense of direction, and now I had the binge-eating horse?

My boyfriend’s horse was an egotistical stallion; he would trot up ahead of the group and then turn around and come close to me to say hello. Which of course made my horse tense up, and the two would start to bicker with one another.

“Our horses don’t like each other,” I told my boyfriend.

“They are just being friendly,” he insisted, coming a bit too close to my horse for comfort.

Friendly, he said. Sure, because friendly means trying to bite each other in the face. If that is friendly according to him, maybe I should start being concerned …

By the 50th time that I had to nudge my horse to keep moving, I began to wonder if Buster was an emotional eater. Was my white-knuckled grip making my horse nervous? Or was Buster reading me as a ‘sucker’ and taking advantage of my niceness. Hmmm …

After the two hours passed and we finally returned to the stables, I got off the horse and did a John Wayne-esque walk: knees burning, sweat dripping, hobbling back to our car. My boyfriend was nearly flying with excitement, and it was then that I realized it was all worth it.

Would I ride again? Not in the near future. But it was definitely something I could hazard doing again, just to see that look of pure joy on my boyfriend’s face. After all, I know he would do the same for me.


Caroline Cobrin is a freelance writer living in Van Nuys. She can be reached at carolinecolumns@hotmail.com.

When Ashkenazi and Persian worlds collide — community healing begins at shul


In March of 2001 I delivered the sermon abbreviated and reprinted here. Having been the rabbi at Sinai Temple for four years, it seemed time to straightforwardly address the tensions between the Persian and Ashkenazi communities.

Since that time, by dint of committees, school parents and children and genuine efforts, Sinai has managed to forge a largely integrated community.

In a comment not reproduced, I spoke about Esther’s transformation in the Purim story as a model for us. We have been transforming the synagogue to a beit knesset — a house of gathering for all Jews, a transformation which makes us proud.

I want to begin with two thought experiments. First, imagine your grandparents built a synagogue. Your parents grew up there and so did you. You knew the place and
loved it.

One day, a huge population of people with the same religion but a different culture and language joined. Suddenly you felt an alien in your own home. How would you feel?

Now imagine that tomorrow a catastrophe occurs and all the American Jews have to flee. Where do we go? We go to Israel.

As American Jews lacking the time, organization or inclination to build our own synagogues, we join existing ones in Israel. We bring, of course, our own language, our own customs, our own outlooks, and it’s not long before we hear our Israeli brothers and sisters say, “You know, this would be a good place if it weren’t for all those American Jews.”

We say to them, “But hey, we’re Jews, too.”

To which they answer, “You’re not our kind of Jews. You don’t speak our language, you don’t know our customs — you invaded our synagogue.”

If you can put yourself in the place of both groups in that thought experiment, then you know what has gone on over the past 20 years at Sinai Temple. It’s not the whole story, but it’s a big part of it. Both groups have felt aggrieved, and as a result, they have done what aggrieved people often do, which is to dig in.

And they have not given the time, the effort or, perhaps, the emotional sympathy to understand how the other side feels.

So I want to speak very frankly to both sides about how we should be and what we should do.

First of all, let’s recognize that there are differences. Sometimes these differences are painful. For example, Ashkenazim don’t like to hear from Persians that our families are a mess. But it’s true.

It’s not true of every American Jewish family, God knows, but I have to tell you, my father grew up in a house of aunts and uncles and grandparents and cousins, and they were all together all the time.

We have no family in this city. And that’s true of almost every third-generation American I know. So when a Persian family says to an Ashkenazic family, “Look, we want our family around us. We’re afraid of losing the family structure we have. We don’t want our families to end up like American families,” we may be defensive, but they’re not wrong.

The Persian community may not be able to avoid the disintegrating family, but who can blame them for trying? Are there problems in Persian families?

Absolutely; I hear them in my office. Are there wonderful Ashkenazic families?

Yes, many. But one way of not being defensive is seeing ourselves realistically, too. And realistically, for all the blessings of America, this country has not been a blessing for the extended family.

On the other hand, to our Persian members: You must also realize that when you speak Farsi in this synagogue, this is what you are saying to your Ashkenazic fellow synagogue members, to your fellow Jews: “I do not care whether you understand my words. You are not invited to join this conversation, and that’s why, in part, I’m speaking a language you don’t understand.”

That may not be what you intend, but it is the inevitable message.

Some of these conversations are conducted by people who do not speak English.

That I understand. But if you do speak English and choose not to use English when there are other English speakers around you, it is a way of saying, “I don’t care if you understand me.” That is painful, it is exclusionary, and it is a shame.

To our Ashkenazic brothers and sisters: Some of the most disturbing, prejudiced and even racist remarks I have heard in the past several years have been directed against the Persian community by the Ashkenazic community. Every time I hear about how they do business, I think “That is what people say about Jews.”

How they do business. Now if you say to me, well there are members of the Persian community who are prejudiced, too, I have no quarrel with you. I’m sure you are right, but you know what? I can only change my own soul. I cannot change someone else’s. So before you begin to accuse others, ask yourself what you believe and what you know about others who are not like you.

In order for us to be a community — not an “us” and a “them” — we have to recognize certain things. The Ashkenazic side has to realize that this synagogue will never be the synagogue that it was 40 years ago. It is not going to happen.

It has changed, and if that gives you pause and gives you pain, I understand it, but the same thing is true of this country and of this world. To our Persian members, this was founded as an Ashkenazic synagogue, as you know, and the basic rites are true to that tradition. I am delighted you chose to join us, and presumably you did so because you want this kind of synagogue. There are mores and customs that will be different from the synagogues of your origin, and we ask you to support us in those.

When two communities merge, there is enough pain to go around. Nobody gets everything they want. It is not only called a synagogue. It is called life. Here is the crucial point: When I say I want one community, I mean it so much I am ready to tell you this: If you or your children or your grandchildren are not prepared to marry a member of the other community, then you do not belong in this synagogue.

Sucker Punched on Divestment


Jewish groups were sucker punched last week when the United Church of Christ (UCC) abandoned a carefully crafted compromise and instead voted to support “divestment” from Israel.

Some outraged Jewish leaders publicly suggested anti-Semitism as a motive. Others were uncomfortable with the label, but a growing number of Jewish officials don’t see any other explanation for a divestment push that defies logic and turns fairness on its ear.

Leaders of the divesting churches — including the UCC and the Presbyterian Church (USA) — insist they have nothing against Jews or Israel, but their willingness to be guided by forces that are implacably opposed not just to Israeli policies but to the Jewish state itself, and which seek to use animus against Jews as a tool in that effort, suggest otherwise.

In fact, the accelerating divestment drive is an organized but camouflaged effort to delegitimize, demonize and isolate the state of Israel, not merely change its policies.

The gap between the stated and underlying motives of the divestment push has disoriented the Jewish interfaith activists who are fighting divestment through dialogue with national Protestant denominations and their local affiliates.

Last week’s UCC decision may have clarified matters for many; the results could include a much more confrontational stance on the national level even as community groups around the country continue the painstaking work of building bridges to their Protestant neighbors.

The gap between Protestants in the pews and their national leaders was evident at the UCC general synod in Atlanta when church leaders stepped in at the last minute and discarded a compromise Mideast proposal.

Instead of a reasonably balanced statement urging economic leverage against all promoters of violence in the region, the revised resolution suggested divestment and singled out Israel’s “occupation” as the real cause of the conflict.

The last-minute switch was approved despite months of efforts by Jewish leaders to convince their UCC counterparts that divestment would hurt peace efforts and blast a big hole through Jewish-Christian relations.

Some Jewish leaders now believe the real impetus for divestment is coming from groups like the Sabeel Center in Jerusalem that advocate “liberation theology” on behalf of the Palestinians and seek to impose their radical interpretation of Christianity on churches that were never favorably disposed to Israel, anyway.

Central to that effort is an attack on Christian Zionism — not just the fanatic, prophecy-driven Zionism of Christian fundamentalists, but the core idea that there is a theological justification for a Jewish state, an unbroken covenant between God and the Jewish people. Until that theology changes, some Palestinian Christians charge, the Palestinians will always be oppressed.

The growing alliance between evangelical supporters of Israel and pro-Israel groups has only made the message by these anti-Israel activists resound more strongly with liberal Protestant denominations. Divestment may start with a rejection of the legitimacy of a Jewish state, but it is being fueled by religious wars within these churches.

The fact the divestment drive isn’t what it claims to be — a movement to advance a two-state solution — is evident in both the perspective and the timing of its advocates.

Outright genocide is taking place in Muslim Sudan, whole populations are threatened in other regions, but to the churches, only Israel merits severe economic sanctions. Not even the plight of their co-religionists in places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia seems to upset churchmen obsessed with punishing Israel.

Moreover, the divestment push comes not at a time of Israeli intransigence, but when the Sharon government is pulling out of Gaza.

Even Israeli peace activists who distrust Sharon’s motives for the pullout are hopeful the unilateral move will create a new momentum for peace that will make new withdrawals inevitable — the same thing feared by Israeli right-wingers.

Pushing for divestment at this delicate transitional moment could do more to scuttle peace chances than advance them.

Divestment will be a big boost to the not-one-inch crowd in Israel and their friends among American evangelicals who love Israel so much they want to see it consumed in the flames of their prophesied apocalypse.

Divestment will erect new barriers to any effort by Sharon to build on the Gaza withdrawal with new peace efforts, if that is indeed his intent.

And the continuing divestment push will reinforce those Palestinians engaged in a long-term strategy to advance a “one-state” solution to the conflict — the latest gambit by those determined that a Palestinian state replace Israel, not coexist with it.

Public affirmations by the UCC and other churches that they support Israel’s right to exist ring hollow as their leaders follow a course charted by those who reject that right.

Divestment, as even most Israeli peace activists agree, won’t advance the cause of peace; groups like the UCC which claim that as their goal are either lying or badly deluded by groups that know exactly what they want.

Sadly, what they want can only lead to more conflict and more bloodshed in what these Protestants hypocritically call the Holy Land.

 

Couple Struggles Over Intermarriage


Jake Gruber and Chloe Davis (not their real names), who have
been living together for four years, are sitting at a cafe, projecting 10 years
into the future.

He sees himself in a successful movie career, living a
Modern Orthodox lifestyle with two, maybe three children. Shabbat is reality,
the kitchen is kosher, Judaism is meaningful and his wife, of course, is
Jewish.

Chloe winces when Jake gets to the part about three children
— maybe we’ll stop at two, she says, smiling.

The rest of her future is much less certain, too. She can
see raising the children Jewish and is willing to keep an observant home. But
she just doesn’t know if she can become Jewish.

“To say I’m going to follow these rules and make this my
belief and my consciousness feels almost like a change in personality, and I
like who I am,” says Chloe, who calls the thought of an Orthodox conversion —
which requires intense study and a firm commitment to observance — “daunting.”

Chloe, also an actor, has always had issues with organized
religion. Raised Episcopalian and Southern Baptist in Texas, she didn’t accept
all the dogma about Jesus, and never liked to think of one group as superior.

“I have always been very happy, and I would say proud to be
unattached to a religion,” Chloe says. “I believe in God, and I believe in a
higher source, and we are all connected to each other. I just don’t want to
have to follow certain rules in order for that to be expressed.”

Which makes it hard when your boyfriend was raised an
Orthodox Jew in New York and expects his wife to be Jewish according to
Orthodox standards.

Jake rebelled against Orthodoxy in college.

Coming from a divorced, dysfunctional family, he drank
through yeshiva high school and through his years at Yeshiva University, where
he began dropping the trappings of observance. When he moved to California to
pursue a career in acting, writing and directing, he had been dating non-Jews
for a while.

“Seeing such a terrible, dysfunctional relationship, I knew
that love was so hard to find,” Jake says. “And if you find love, it’s love.”

When he met Chloe at an audition, he made it pretty clear
from the outset that anyone he would marry would have to undergo an Orthodox
conversion.

Over the last few years, Jake has begun to resolve some of
his religious issues, with the help of a kabbalistic rabbi in Brooklyn and has
returned to praying every day and to observing Shabbat. He explains things to
Chloe as he goes along, hoping that she will absorb the meaning.

“I’m trying to paint a picture of the love inside of Judaism
and what logic is behind it and why it is so beautiful,” he says.

But Judaism-by-osmosis hasn’t quite clicked for Chloe.

“I’ve never felt that you really understood what huge
changes you are asking of me,” Chloe tells Jake. “I ask, ‘What is wrong with me
just as I am?’ Something would be better if I were Jewish, so there is
something wrong with me now,” she says to him, clearly bringing up a
conversation they’ve had before.

“And I always answer it’s not better, it’s different,” Jake
replies. “It is the utmost compliment to you, because if I didn’t love you and
think you were wonderful, I wouldn’t be in this relationship.

“But there are other things that are important, because I
feel like I have to answer for my soul,” he adds.

Chloe feels like she is the one being asked to make all the
compromises.

“It doesn’t feel like meeting halfway,” she says. “You’re
saying, ‘You’ve got to come all the way over here,’ and that is such a hard
thing to think about, because I’m coming from all the way over there. It’s just
so far away.”

She agrees with his assertion that in the larger picture of
their relationship, he’s made many other compromises, but both agree that they
have reached a turning point, where they have to decide one way or other
whether this is going to work.

Chloe has agreed to take some classes and read some books,
but Jake is a little wary of what they might encounter if they approach an
Orthodox rabbi, knowing that traditional Jewish law calls for a convert to be
dissuaded three times before being allowed to embark on the process.

“I live with this woman, and I know she is a wonderful
person, but you go to see some rabbi and she’s just a goy,” Jake says.

But he knows that there are some who might be more open, or
perhaps there are some traditionally inclined rabbis from other denominations.

They write down some names and numbers of rabbis and
organizations that can help.

“It does feel very lonely,” Chloe says. “I don’t know anyone
else who is standing in the place where I am standing, coming from where I came
from, looking at this. Jake says there are tons of women who have converted and
done it easily, but for me this is a big deal — a really big deal.”

For resources for intermarried couples, visit:

www.interfaithfamily.comJewish Outreach Institute

www.joi.orgFederation of Jewish Mens’ Clubs www.fjmc.org

Union For Reform Judaism www.uahc.org/outreach

Aish HaTorah, Los Angeles www.la.aishconnection.com

Power, Politics And People


Israeli lawmaker Alex Lubotsky was having a bad day on Jan. 29. Hehad come to Jerusalem’s Ramada hotel to address a visiting group ofOrthodox Jews from America, to plead for their support of thecompromise conversion plan authored by Finance Minister YaakovNeeman.

He didn’t have much luck. The visitors, leaders of the Union ofOrthodox Jewish Congregations of America, displayed more skepticismthan an Arkansas grand jury. Most, witnesses said, looked as thoughthey would rather be anywhere but in that room, being asked to standup and do the right thing. Rabbi Beryl Wein, a transplanted NewYorker sharing the dais with Lubotsky, reportedly captured the moodwhen he said that he was glad he wasn’t the one who had to make thedecision.

The decision — whether the Neeman plan will become reality –rests with Israel’s Orthodox chief rabbis. The plan requires them tolet Conservative and Reform rabbis help train would-be converts toJudaism. Orthodox rabbis would still perform the actual conversionritual. Non-Orthodox rabbis would be junior partners — less thanthey wanted, but much more than the Orthodox rabbinate wanted to givethem. The non-Orthodox movements have accepted. The chief rabbishaven’t decided, but all signs are negative.

Lubotsky, an ally of Neeman, was hoping that the Orthodox Unionwould help nudge the chief rabbis toward compromise. As the mainAmerican voice of centrist, or “modern” Orthodoxy, the OU has longfavored keeping lines open to the non-Orthodox world. That’s also thephilosophy of Modern Orthodox Israelis such as Neeman and Lubotsky.It’s supposed to be the view of the chief rabbinate too.

Modernity is not what it used to be, however. Nowadays, thedecisive force in Orthodoxy is the relentless gravitational pull ofthe right-wing or “ultra-Orthodox” rabbinate, which rejects allcompromise with sinners. Fearing the purists’ wrath, nobody wants tocross them. Not the Orthodox Union in America, not the chief rabbisin Israel. In contemporary Orthodoxy, bridge-building is out.Fence-building is in.

Three days earlier and 7,000 miles west, the top leaders of Reformand Conservative Judaism held a press conference in New York on Jan.26 to give their own view of the Neeman plan, which had gone to theprime minister the day before.

They planned to lament the chief rabbis’ anticipated rejection ofNeeman. This, they figured, would prove who is ready to makesacrifices for Jewish unity and who isn’t. To their surprise, theliberal rabbis woke up that Monday to find themselves outflanked bytheir own troops. While they slept, their negotiators in Israel weremeeting with a representative of the chief rabbinate, at the home ofJewish Agency chairman Avraham Burg, to concoct a competingcompromise. It was the only way, Burg explained, to avoid a blowupwhen the chief rabbis reject Neeman.

The Burg plan lets the chief rabbis off the hook. Instead of aunified conversion process, each movement would continue its ownconversions. All converts would be registered as Jews by Israel’sstate population registry, with a notation of the date they becameJewish. But only Orthodox converts would be recognized by the chiefrabbinate, which still controls marriage, divorce, adoption andburial. This way, the non-Orthodox movements get governmentrecognition, just as they wanted, while the Orthodox retain the powerto ensure it doesn’t do them any good.

Gone is the immediate danger of conversions causing a governmentcollapse or an Israel-Diaspora explosion. Instead, look for anexplosion next year over marriages, as a growing army of non-Orthodoxconverts battles discrimination.

Both the Neeman and Burg plans could defuse, at least for now, theincendiary tensions fracturing the Jewish world. Community leadersare hailing them as nearly interchangeable, the Burg plan merely anarrower, more “technical” fix than Neeman.

In fact, as some top rabbis admit privately, the two plans arepolar opposites. Neeman, by creating one intermovement conversionprocedure, would strengthen the role of the Israeli government as acentral, unifying voice in Jewish life. Its champions see it as astep — albeit a baby step — toward healing the historic breachesdividing Judaism’s streams.

The Burg plan does the reverse. By getting the Israeli governmentout of the business of deciding whose conversions are legitimate, itis a decisive first step toward separation of synagogue and state.The rest — removing marriage, divorce and burial from Orthodoxrabbinic control — is just a matter of time. Each movement would befree to go its own way, without regard to others’ standards.

Already, the two proposals have begun to redraw the map of thereligious pluralism debate. Up to now, the struggle has dividedOrthodox Jews from non-Orthodox. With the arrival of the Burg plan,the debate is between the center and the edges.

On one side are the Conservative and Modern Orthodox movements,which enthusiastically favor Neeman. They view it as a historic steptoward recreating a common code of Jewish law, modified formodernity, which all Jews could begin to accept. That’s exactly whatthey stand for.

On the other side are the Reform and ultra-Orthodox movements,which are happiest with Burg. Both groups would just as soon get theJewish state out of the business of determining Jewish law — theReform, because they don’t believe in the idea of a binding Jewishlaw; the ultra-Orthodox, because they don’t fully accept the Jewishstate.

Reform and Conservative leaders alike insist that there is nochance of a near-term breakup in their strategic alliance. Bothmovements are still denied any recognition in Israel. They’ll fighttogether until they get it. For now, both have endorsed both Neemanand Burg, with varying enthusiasm.

Both sides admit, however, that the latest twist has brought theirdifferences to the surface quite sharply. It’s no longer hard toimagine the two allies on opposite sides in the not-too-distantfuture.

Which side will come out on top — centrism or fragmentation? IfAlex Lubotsky’s experience last week means anything, don’t bet moneyon the center.

J.J. Goldberg is author of “Jewish Power: Inside the AmericanJewish Establishment.” He writes regularly for The JewishJournal.

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