On My Mind: Arnie Eisen

Response to “Jews and Others, Continued” From Menachem Creditor

I believe that a deep sense of Jewishness should increase a person’s engagement as a global citizen. A passionate Conservative Jewish life must therefore provide a healthy launching ground for universal concern and action.

To limit access to God to one People’s faith is to embrace the worst of spirituality. But to abandon any discrete path’s claim to a relationship to God for fear of fundamentalism is a sad abdication of holy purposefulness. It should be, must be, possible for me to desperately – and legitimately – love an Infinite God without precluding an equally infinite number of other legitimate lovers their right to connect. In fact, an Infinitely Loved God serves as the Universal Conduit for humankind to meet, to love, to finally come face to face as One without rejecting sacred individuality. If belief in God can be understood as the two affirmations: a) that there is more than me in the world and b) that every individual is infused by a divine spark, then it falls upon each of us to nurture our particular souls to hear the call and act on behalf of every other in the world. The deepest religious sensibilities should be aligned with the deepest human sensibilities, born from within a specific (and beautiful) entry-point.

My way into God, the discrete religious path known as Conservative Judaism, is also my way to being part of the larger human family. I must therefore also see the experience of Conservative Judaism as inclusive of my non-Jewish sisters and brothers. Our progressive/halachic blend is both seductive and compelling, and every decision we make as a Conservative Jewish community should fill us with pride, as we fulfill the dream of traditional Judaism to stretch and include. If we believe in Conservative Judaism, we must sing about it from rooftops, advertising our particular brand of faith as a redemptive experience that can cherish humanity.

We can share our Jewish communities and our world with Jews and non-Jews. God is big enough to include us all.