by Mordechai Shushan

It’s time to break down barriers. In our richly diverse and vibrant community, we need to cross borders and build bridges, and empower new voices. Celebrating our rich heritage, we must lower barriers to understanding, and in an atmosphere of transparency employ best practices to think out of the box.

In that spirit, I want to begin by calling for us all to have a conversation. It may be a new conversation, or it may continue the existing conversation, or it may begin a different conversation about a conversation we’ve been having. They key is to engage in dialogue, so that we can grapple with issues honestly and without preconceptions. And there’s no better way to have a dialogue than to start a conversation.

What’s more, if we are serious and committed to a conversation, we may develop a conversation that actually changes the conversation. A conversation-changing conversation is truly to be valued because we all recognize the need for change, and change happens first by talking about it. Conversation is therefore the first step in bringing about positive changes in our lives and our community, and it all begins with a conversation about change that changes the conversation.

I also want to call for greater nuance in our conversations, in our institutions, and in our lives. As everyone knows, nuanced arguments are the best arguments, and nuanced conclusions are always the right conclusions. Yet there is an appalling lack of nuance in what we see and hear around us. Fortunately there is a groundswell of support for greater nuance. Of some 34 self-identified Jewish leaders who recently completed a Survey Monkey questionnaire, 31 of them said they favored more nuance, or much more nuance, in Jewish life. This demonstrates without a doubt that the vast majority of American Jews support nuance. It is high time that we resolve to have more nuanced conversations that lead to more nuanced lives.

May we all dedicate ourselves to building a sustainable, scalable conversation where we reject pigeonholing and labeling, and embrace the future that lies ahead. Happy Purim!

Mordechai Shushan is a long-time observer of the Jewish scene.