The end of the shutdown: What have we learned?


After weeks of immensely costly and damaging inaction and delay, our federal government has finally started working again. Unfortunately, our political system still seems fundamentally broken. The ability to compromise – according to the dictionary, “to settle a dispute by mutual concession” – is currently in very short supply in our national and civic life. Jewish approaches to dispute resolution frown on hardened, extreme positions and mandate flexibility and openness to each other. Jewish texts provide clear guidelines about how to move toward compromise through mutual respect, focus on the common good, and acknowledgement of our shared duty to create a more holy and just society. At Germantown Jewish Centre, we have faced many difficult issues on which members held widely divergent views, but we have been able to use those guidelines to engage with each other and to find a way forward rather than retreating to hard-line positions that block progress. Now more than ever we need to advocate for that approach in the world outside of our synagogue community. As a nation, we all need each other to create the path through the difficulties that face us, and we must demand that our political and civic leaders listen to each other and foster in each other the ability to compromise before more damage is done.