January 16, 2011
The Jewish religious tradition stresses the importance of civility in every aspect of human interaction. Three times a day we end our most important prayer with the fervent words of Elokai N’tzor, asking Divine assistance to “guard my tongue from evil and my lips from deceit” and ask “may my soul be silent” in response to those who “verbally abuse” us.
This goal has grown far more difficulty in our contemporary world where instant communication, social networking and a drastic coarsening of public dialogue have impacted on our community as well. Public debate in American Jewish life, and even in Orthodox Jewish life, have been cheapened by the polarization, demonization, half truths and raised voices that all too often characterize contemporary public discourse.
The Orthodox Union is proud to have taken the lead as an original cosponsor of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs’ “civility campaign”; which declares that “we as a community and as individuals, must pledge the basic norms of civic discussion and debate at public events.
We do this not to stifle free expression of views, but rather to protect it”. The denial of such norms is particularly painful when it is done in intra‐Orthodox dialogue where the Tor ah’ s dictate of” D ‘rachea Darchei Noam” should set the tone for any and all discussion.
We accordingly resolve that:
- The Orthodox Union will continue to educate our community, including our synagogues, NCSY, JSU and JLIC, as to the paramount importance of civility in public and communal discourse.
- The Orthodox Union and its affiliates will set an example for others by eschewing language that polarizes our community or demonizes or belittles other points of view or their adherents.
- The Orthodox Union will publicize the JCPA Civility Campaign and ask our synagogues and affiliates to consider endorsing this important initiative