With Chanukah and holiday season weekends coming up, it is extended family time again. To help promote shalom bayit (“peaceful home”), JInsider offers our Jewish Third Rail Strategy for avoiding treacherous conversation topics during these intergenerational and interdenominational family get-togethers.
A quick definition: In transportation, the third rail is the powerful and dangerous electrified track. In politics, a “third rail” topic is one so charged that it is untouchable. With that in mind, here is our Jewish guide to a safe and peaceful holiday kibbitzing. Tell us what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Safe Topics (Low heat and minimal conflict)
“Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle” by Dan Senor
Embarrassing Jews: Eliot Spitzer, Bernie Madoff, et al.
Mel Gibson’s plight & God’s existence
Joseph Telushkin: Thoughtful, inspiring and books make great bar/bat mitzvah gifts
Redundancy in Jewish communal world
High cost of Kosher
Jewish World Services video
Aliyah and Gabbai politics
Revamping the Jewish federation system
Lack of Jewish leaders or role models (except Elie Wiesel and anonymous benefactor to Lincoln Square fiasco)
Holocaust fund fraud
Tea Party meshuganas
Hamas & Iran
Third Rail Topics
(Potential high heat and maximum conflict)
Chelsea Clinton marrying into Tribe (and on Sabbath)
High rates of intermarriage
Fox News. It’s Jewish?
Female rabbis and the women’s role in Judaism
Anything Israel except Birthright
Israeli settlement freeze
Israel’s loyalty pledge proposal
Israel through a liberal perspective
Democracy & Zionist values (similar to above)
Plight of Palestinians
Obama & Israel
Obama’s birth certificate
Same sex union announcement in The Times
Same sex union announcements in Jewish newspapers
Jewish and Yiddish names for different ethnic groups
Dissent in Jewish community
Endnote: Agreeing to Disagree
“Whether or not we can fulfill Rav Kook’s command of causeless love, we must be committed to disagreeing with each other without hating each other. There are too few of us, and we have too much in common. Once we lose respect and tolerance for a fellow Jew, we have sinned against him — and against ourselves.”
Classic quote by Jewish Week Editor and Publisher Gary Rosenblatt, 1993
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