Name-calling should never be normal


We’re now on the other side of the High Holy Days, and we are starting to settle back into our normal routines again. However you celebrate, you’ve had at least a day or two, or many days, rearranged from your normal day-to-day schedule.

It affects us personally and professionally. For some, co-workers don’t understand why we need to take these days for worship and reflection, but they are respectful of our beliefs and traditions.

For The Jewish Voice and our staff, our offices shut down at every major holiday, according to the schedule of the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island, where we are housed. And so does the production of the paper. So if you didn’t receive your paper on schedule last week, that’s because we adjusted our schedule to work around Sukkot.

Each year, we look ahead at the calendar to try to move deadlines a bit to best work around holidays. When the Alliance’s Dwares JCC is closed for a Jewish holiday, our printer delivers the office copies on another day or to another place. When a secular holiday falls on the day the paper is usually printed, we have to readjust then as well.

It’s all part of living in a country where we respect and honor everyone’s varied traditions, religions and holidays. At least, that’s the idea.

The richness of diversity in the United States and here in Rhode Island is part of what makes us great. And we learn to get along. It helps our community, our state and our country move forward. After all, Roger Williams came to this area, all those years ago, to escape religious persecution. He sought exactly the freedoms we enjoy today, although he never would have dreamed of the kind of diversity that would eventually thrive in the region he first settled.

I’ve written about civility a number of times in the last year. I feel                                strongly that it’s important to recognize and honor all our traditions and be respectful to one another. It’s important now more than ever as our nation has become more divided, and stratified in opinion.

As the midterm elections approach, political divides about issues from taxes and tariffs to international policies such as those affecting Israel become more apparent. All sides of the issues become more vocal.

Negative labels and name calling are incendiary. They disrupt our mission to help and support the greater community. We all come to the table with a personal agenda. But our leaders need to focus on what’s best for the greater community, not just personal views or agendas.

So as you settle back into your daily routine, take a few minutes to think about your roots and what you are really working toward. And think about the High Holy Days that just passed. What did you pray for; what did you vow to do in the New Year? If you are practicing tzedakah; if you are interested in tikkun olam, how are you accomplishing those goals? I doubt that sowing conflict or demeaning others in our community were things you hoped or prayed for.