Commentary by Dr. Ursula A. Falk


Alle Leute Recht Getan ist Eine Kunst die Niemand Kann


To please all people is an art that no one can accomplish.  This statement is true in all aspects of life.  It is a fact in religious beliefs, in likes and dislikes, in food preferences, in attractions, in marriages, and in all aspects of life.  Merely examining our Jewish religion, we find a number of denominations / beliefs / practices and more.  Examining the Yehudim who observe orthodoxy in the strictest sense compared to the folk who have chosen to practice reform Judaism, and the conservatives, those in the middle of the spectrum, all appear far apart.  The three forms of Judaism seem “miles apart” from each other's convictions and beliefs.  The orthodox keep the Sabbath special / unique.  They attend synagogues in which men and women are separated by curtains / divisions where they are not to see each other or be near to one another.  Men and women must not yearn for admiration of the opposite sex, but must give their “Nemone,” their love, their belief, their prayers to “Hashem,” to the Almighty, to the exclusion of earthly matters.  The holydays are a time of rest, of contemplation, of mitzwot (good deeds) and more.  Work must be left behind.  It is a time for holiness.  Even to kindle a fire or turn on electricity to comb ones hair is a “Nevere,” a form of labor.  The karyagim (more than six hundred) mizwot (good deeds) play an important role in the life of the orthodox human being.  To be an orthodox human being one must keep the kashruth laws, to abstain from eating certain foods or from intermingling meat with dairy products.  There must be hours of waiting between imbibing of dairy food and meat meals.  This can vary from three to six hours and more.  There are many explanations in the Torah, Talmud, etc. to explain the reasons for the food laws.  Orthodoxy is all very strict re marriage laws.  There is to be no marriage between a Jewish person and a person of another belief.  Prayers of many varieties are to be said for the various beliefs and practices of life and the life cycle.  These prayers occur on a daily basis and at different times throughout the day, month, and year.  These occur from getting up in the morning (mode ani) to retiring at night (Schema). The “truly” orthodox Jewish man or woman knows what is expected of him / her. 

The Reform Jewish religion has relatively very few strictures.  Prayers are brief. Hebrew prayers exist but translation into the individual's native tongue are not forbidden. Organs are used to accompany choirs / groups of singers.  There are relatively few strictures for the members; conversion to Judaism from other religions is permissible with relatively little preparation.  It is a fairly “easy road to follow.”  It is like sprinkling “holy water” on an in infant and verbalizing a change in its alleged beliefs, its status, with the liquid thus poured on its skin. Driving to and from the Temple is accepted. It is not too far removed from other religions.  The members do not have to have skullcaps on; they can do fairly much what they want after attending a service.  They are expected to follow as many of the Ten Commandments as possible; they are encouraged to give to charity.  They believe in one G’d and no other deity. 

Conservatism is somewhere in between orthodoxy and Reform Judaism.  There are various forms of this practice.  It is a way of allowing a degree of freedom to the most difficult strictures while still retaining beliefs of orthodoxy, in a milder form.  Holidays are recognized, Yom Kippur is strictly observed, as is Rosh Hashanah; old customs are recalled and kept to a considerable extent; celebrations are kept as much as possible.  The Rabbi, Cantor and other conservative dignitaries and members of that community will not utilize motorized vehicles to attend  synagogue on the Sabbath or holy days and others will give themselves the freedom, the permission to drive or ride to the temple as they deem necessary.  The latter process is not sanctioned or really mentioned to those who follow that act.  There is considerable more leeway in the folk who consider themselves conservative Jews. 

In politics all people cannot be pleased.  There are in our country, democrats and republicans.  Each have their own leaders, their own agendas.  The Republicans are not the rich as is imagined, nor are the Democratic leaders the poor.  Our Jewish people identify with the Democrats to a great extent since the mistaken belief that these folk are the common folk, the “Rachmoneses” (pathetic) who need their help.  Among the Democrats we find such millionaires as the late president Franklin Roosevelt, secretary of state John Kerry, Barbara Streisand, and many of the movie stars and other millionaires and billionaires.  The Jewish people identify with the alleged impoverished, the plagued, victimized, and objects of persecutions.

Our Jewish brethren of all denominations and all political parties must examine reality, not labels.  We must choose what is best for our people, as well as the righteous folk.   We cannot do right nor please “all of the people all of the time.”


 Dr. Ursula A. Falk is a psychotherapist in private practice and the author of several books and articles.

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