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Shalom Aleichem

Yom Rishon, 19th of Sh'vat, 5775
Sunday, February 8, 2015

Welcome to Achdus Now, a blog about Jewish unity. The word achdus literally means "oneness," from echad or "one." But achdus is a oneness of unity, where different parts join together to form a whole. When Jews talk about achdus, they express the hope that various kinds of Jews will come together as one. That's the purpose of this blog, to call for different parts of the Jewish community to join together. What do we want? Achdus! "And," to quote the great sage Hillel, "if not now, when?"1

In this blog I plan to focus on two groups within the Jewish family: Orthodox Jews and Jews that are not traditionally observant. There is of course a spectrum to observance. Among the Orthodox, at the right end of the spectrum, we find Modern Orthodox and Chareidi Jews. And at the left, Reform and secular Jews. But I think there is a noticeable split in the spectrum, a gap between Orthodox Jews at one end and non-traditional Jews at the other. I want to talk about that separation in an effort to bridge the divide.

I decided to write this blog partly because I grew up as a non-observant Jew and became an Orthodox Jew as a young adult. From living in both communities, I know that there are positives and negatives to both lifestyles. There is truth in the secular perspective and in the frum (Orthodox) view. There are people that I care about in both communities. So it's my hope that there is some way to combine the two so that I can be my whole Jewish self.

In trying to resolve the secular/Orthodox conflict for myself personally, I've learned a lot about Jewish unity, and I'm eager to share what I've discovered with others. What can we learn from the Torah about achdus? How did the Jewish family get to be this way, long ago and in recent times? What are the strengths of the different groups that make up the Jewish people today, and how might they fit together? Could gefilte fish be the solution to the whole problem? These are some of the topics that I plan to talk about.

I'm also curious to know what everyone else thinks about achdus, and to hear about your experiences as you've searched for your place in the Jewish world. Do you also think it's important for the Jewish people to be more united? Have you too felt torn because of the splits in our family? What do you think about the conflicts between the different denominations? Why can't we all just get along? I look forward to hearing your stories, and your frustrations and hopes.

The Jewish people, Am Israel, started off as one family. But over the years, some of us began doing things a little differently than others. And now, we focus on those differences so much that we see ourselves as being separate families. I hope that this blog will help us to reconnect. And we might find, in the end, that our family photo has simply become more colorful because of our differences, but that we are still, and we always will be, Am Echad.


1 Pirkei Avos (Ethics of the Fathers) 1:14