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Rabbi Avi Shafran #fundie cross-currents.com

I once queried a young granddaughter of mine about what she brought to school for lunch. She listed an assortment of sandwiches but an iconic one was missing. “What about peanut butter?” I asked. Her eyes widened and she said, “Oh, no. We don’t bring peanut butter into the school. Some kids are ‘lergic to it!”

The following week I was interviewed on a Jewish television program about the “Women of the Wall.” I had not planned to recount my conversation with my grandchild but it unexpectedly sprung to mind and I did. It surely inconveniences children with a fondness for peanut butter, I mused to the interviewer, to be unable to enjoy it for lunch. But concern for the sensitivities of others trumps our personal preferences, as it should. I suggested that sensitivities come in different colors. A halacha-abiding man may not be literally ‘lergic to women’s chanting. But in a way he is.

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For more than forty years, the Kosel has been a place – perhaps the only one in the world – where Jews of all affiliations and persuasions have regularly prayed side by side. That has been possible because of the good will of non-Orthodox Jews – Israelis and Westerners alike – who, although they may opt for very different services in their own homes, synagogues or temples, have considered the feelings of those who embrace the entirety of the Jewish religious tradition.