THE JEWISH CENTER
FOR COMMON GROUND
DIVISION 4--CONFLICT RESOLUTION
TRAINING AND INTERVENTION
Whether Jewish unity is threatened by a dispute in a synagogue or small
community, or involves issues affecting greater numbers of people, it may not be
long before an "us vs. them" dynamic develops, with each side seeking to
discredit the other. In such an environment, those involved may not be able to prevent further damage
even if they recognize it is mutually destructive. JCCG would seek to alleviate this
problem in the following ways:
A) VOLUNTEER MEDIATORS
JCCG could create a team of volunteer mediators trained in conflict
resolution techniques grounded in Jewish values. The mediators would come from different professions
and backgrounds, increasing the likelihood that the parties involved could
find a third party they could each respect. Unlike a Bet Din, a JCCG mediator would not have any legal
or halachic authority to impose a solution on those involved. Thus, there would
be less risk and greater willingness for the parties to utilize the resource at a time when their
own efforts can be hindered by a variety of emotional, political and social pressures of the moment.
Even if the mediator could not help the parties reach an agreement, he/she could minimize negative
fallout and increase understanding and positive communication between those involved.
B) ONLINE/PHONE SUPPORT
This idea would involve a designated phone line and internet cite where
those seeking to resolve a conflict or minimize disunity could seek information. Just
as there are a number of "Ask the Rabbi" features on Jewish web cites where
one can anonymously request information about Jewish law and practice, JCCG internet and
phone support could perform a similar function with respect to conflict resolution.
C) MEDIATION RESOURCES FOR JEWISH LEADERSHIP
This program would seek to distribute relevant materials focusing on
mediation/conflict resolution to leadership within synagogues and Jewish institutions.
Its goal would be to help empower them in dealing with issues in a way which supports
Jewish unity, and help to preempt escalation of people.
While the above outline for JCCG attempts to present specific programs
to achieve its mission, like most new organizations, it could be viewed as a work in
progress during its initial stages. However, the very establishment of JCCG itself could
have an immediate impact by virtue of its singular, substantive focus on an issue that
can often be neglected or marginalized amidst the many challenges facing the Jewish people.
There may not be easy answers for the many sources of division within
the Jewish world. However, JCCG can strengthen a process of dealing with differences
in a way which nurtures a deeper respect and love for the soul within each Jew.
It can help prevent us from drowning in a multitude of labels, stereotypes and differences
which too often divide our people. JCCG can be a critical resource to help keep the
Jewish people focused on the ultimate common ground we all share -- a holy people
striving to be a light unto the nations and bringing the world closer to G-d.
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