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“We have Nothing to Fear”: 
My speech on the future of Conservative Judaism at the USCJ Convention in Atlanta

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The Importance of Keruv

I would like to teach us all a very important value in Jewish life known as Keruv.Keruv literally means ‘to bring close,’ ‘to draw near.’Throughout our history, the word “keruv” has meant the endeavor to bring close all those among are people who are, for whatever reason, feeling far away from the community.Keruv is a beautiful Jewish value that is all about welcoming.It’s the heart and soul of what has sustained us as a community for generations.The Jewish value of Keruv goes a long way back in Judaism. It seems that many of the great biblical figures were also especially concerned with Keruv. And their lives and stories teach us much about how to draw other people Karov, close to Judaism.
There was Aharon, the High Priest, the brother of Moses, for example. Our tradition tells us that he just had a magnificent talent for Keruv. When the Mishnah talks about Aharon, it says that he was Ohev Shalom v’Rodef Shalom, Oheiv et haBriot, umekarvan latorah: that he loved peace and pursued peac…

Teach your tongue to say ‘I don’t know.’ (Talmud Bavli, Berachot 4a)

This is one of my favorite teachings in the Talmud.Our human nature never seems to change:we hate to admit that we don’t know, that we’re not sure.Some of us would rather lie to others and even to ourselves than admit that we don’t know something.It’s as if there’s some deep-seated fear within us that being wrong is a terrible thing.
I love not knowing!When people come up to me and ask me a question about Judaism—or anything-- I’m happy to admit when I don’t know the answer.I’m grateful.That person has given me an opportunity to look something up and to learn. I even love it when I say something incorrect or confused, and someone points out to me that I was wrong.That’s the best of all!I am delighted when life shows me that I was wrong.How else can I find the Truth?How else can I be ultimately right? There are those who believe that knowledge is power, and they’re right.But the greatest knowledge, the greatest power of all is resting comfortably in the ultimate Truth that, as Socrates …