From the earliest years of my childhood, I always learned that the Jewish community valued intellectual debate. I witnessed this at every stage of my Jewish education. I grew up as the son and grandson of Conservative rabbis, attending services every week where the congregants and leaders engaged in vigorous discussions about the meaning of the liturgy. I studied at the Solomon Schechter Day School where my favorite class was Talmud, where our teacher Rabbi Lerner would carefully walk us through each line of text and demonstrate how every word and sentence could be dissected for new meaning. Rabbi Lerner taught us that the Talmud showed us how the Jewish people believed in debate for debate’s sake rather than trying to make everyone conform to the same opinion. That is the essence of Judaism. . .
We no longer seek debate, nor do many shuls even allow it to happen. We are having trouble being tolerant of the other side. Rather than having different sides of the Jewish community debate the issue of U.S.-Israeli relations, too many shuls around the country are moving in the direction of simply prohibiting one side or the other from having a voice. As this exchange indicated to me, some shuls are now reaching the inevitable next step of slandering the character of fellow Jews simply through their possible associations. Read the complete article at -- http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/195443/closing-american-jewish-mind