A constructive way to disagree
January 17, 2020
In partnership with the Pardes Institute of Judaic Studies, Temple Israel is offering a five-week course open to the entire community and led by Rabbi Joshua Neely called “Mahloket Matters: How to Disagree Constructively—The Beit Midrash Way.” The first of the hour-long weekly session starts on Thursday, Feb. 6 and runs from 7 to 8 p.m. in the Temple Israel Library at 50 S. Moss Road in Winter Springs. The final session is Thursday, March 5.
No matter their political beliefs, most people agree that civil discourse between the political divides is turning less and less civil. This lack of desire to try to understand those with opposing political opinions (or political identities) and disagree constructively over critical questions is posing an existential threat to democracies around the world. Pardes created the Mahloket Matters initiative as a response.
Studying the conflicting opinions found on every page of classic Jewish texts can be used to increase the desire and ability to understand and engage more constructively with conflicting political opinions today, thereby improving civil discourse. The curriculum includes:
Introduction—Rabbinic Concepts of the Beit Midrash Way
Unit 1—Meet or Refuse to Meet? From Korah and Moses to Political Adversaries Today
Unit 2—Fear War or Trust Peace? From Jacob and Esau through Chamberlain and Menachem Begin to Today
Unit 3—Xenophobia or National Security? From Pharaoh and the Israelites through Japanese Internment to Today
Unit 4—Coexist or Separate? From Isaac and Ishmael to Israelis and Palestinians Today
Unit 5—“Fake News” or Uncovering the Truth? From Joseph and His Brothers through Jefferson and Hamilton to Today
Sanhedrin Way—A mock-constructive controversy exercise using the conflict scenario, “Keep or cancel the controversial speaker? You Decide!”
Each of the units includes a biblical story, conflicting commentaries on that story, historical events, and recent news. To create the course, Pardes partnered with OpenMind (www.OpenMindPlatform.org), an initiative of NYU Professor Jonathan Haidt, an internationally acclaimed scholar of civil discourse. According to their website, OpenMind is “a psychology-based educational platform designed to depolarize campuses, companies, organizations, and communities. OpenMind helps people foster intellectual humility and mutual understanding, while equipping them with the essential cognitive skills to engage constructively across differences.”
Early registration is available until Jan. 31 and costs $18. The price is $36 after that. Register at tiflorida.org or by calling the Temple Israel office at 407-647-3055.