Letter to the Editor: Robert Blumenthal
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Letter to the Editor: Robert Blumenthal

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Thank you for a great article about Chabad of Rural Georgia and Rabbi Chaim Markovits, by Debbie Diamond, in the Jan. 31 issue. The arrival of Chabad of Rural Georgia has been a true blessing for this region as it answers a previously unmet need for the Jews of Georgia, many of whom live in isolated communities with a very small Jewish presence.

The Rabbi visited my wife and I at our home in Milledgeville. We talked for almost three hours about lots of things and the Rabbi mentioned his plans for offering classes. This was most welcome news since it is something that we sorely miss.

These plans came to fruition very quickly, and I regularly attend the Rabbi’s weekly Zoom class on the Torah portion of each week. Rabbi Markovits is a dedicated and inspiring teacher, and this is just one of the ways in which Chabad of Rural Georgia is addressing the needs of the Jews in this region.

Rabbi Markovits has embarked on the mission of reaching out to every Jew in rural Georgia. He has already made a substantial contribution in this regard, and his continued efforts toward fulfilling this mission will only serve to further enrich Jewish life in this state.

My wife and I were members of our shul, a small congregation affiliated with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, for about 10 years and we were very active in the life of the shul.

We resigned last year. I won’t elaborate here, but I offer this note as a plea to those who lead synagogues affiliated with the USCJ, be they rabbis or officers of governing boards, to be on guard against the over-politicization of the shul, the bimah and shul communications. The use of these venues to promote views on matters of current political and social controversy will inevitably foster a non-inclusive environment that will leave some congregants feeling uncomfortable, unwelcome, marginalized and which may well cause some to leave the shul, as was the case for us.

As a matter of pure practicality, does it really make sense to needlessly alienate some congregants? Are USCJ synagogues, particularly small ones, so flush with membership that they can easily afford to risk losing members over matters which are best left for other venues? So, my plea to synagogue leaders is to be extra mindful about fostering an inclusive environment. Such a mindset will go a long way to creating a healthy atmosphere in which everyone feels welcome, and this in turn will help foster the long-term health of our shuls.

Robert Blumenthal, Professor of Mathematics, Georgia College in Milledgeville

Article referenced: www.atlantajewishtimes.com/chabad-of-rural-georgia-launches-outreach-campaign/

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