Erupting or Evolving

February 12, 2024 in Israel, Rabbi Deborah Megdal

By Rabbi Deborah Megdal. 

What makes a conversation around Israel “erupt”? I’ve been thinking about this question since a friend shared that her workplace has been, in her words, “erupting over Israel.” As a Jewish person working in a progressive non-profit, she regularly encounters anti-Israel and antisemitic narratives around the war with Hamas. Fast-paced flurries of back-and-forth communication escalate through the organization’s internal channels. 

The most contentious exchanges are not in person, not even in real time, but rather in ALL-CAPS written quickly and under the veil of group messages. In this era of remote and hybrid work, when we can work together without knowing each other, it’s easy to make false assumptions, overreact, and oversimplify. 

If your workplace or social circle is “erupting” over Israel, please know that you are invited to build community at Beth El, where we can all find enormous strength and support in others who love Israel and pray for a peaceful future.  

While we are a community with diverse viewpoints about Israel and the war, we are committed to respectful, nuanced, evolving conversations. 

So if ALL-CAPS is a recipe for erupting conversations, how do we do better? 

  1. We first invest in knowing each other. Our backgrounds, family stories, and personal experiences all affect how we view the world. When we know each other, we are more likely to offer patience, generosity, and the benefit of the doubt.
  2. We are intentional about space, pace, and perspective. Pick a calm environment. Allow enough time for details and nuance. Speak in your own voice and listen to others.

I am proud that at Beth El, we have conversations built on trust in our core values, investment in relationships, and listening to each other.