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Speaking from the Heart - Using the Mind Here’s a great way to enliven an otherwise boring holiday party. Raise your wine glass and loudly proclaim: “Highly intelligent women tend to marry less intelligent men!” Or, if you’re a man who’s willing to risk physical harm, try: “Highly intelligent men tend to marry less intelligent women!” Almost immediately, the polite, insipid chatter will come to an end and an impassioned discussion will begin — I promise. Well, what do you think? And why? The fact is both statements are true based on a concept in statistics called “Regression to the Mean.” But that’s not relevant for purposes of this essay. What is relevant is how most people analyze the provocative statements above.

equates all people’s narratives and avoids making moral distinctions. “Why can we not simply say that at this moment, Israel’s enemies are evil? That they’re wrong? Why can they not say without obfuscation, that whatever fault one finds with Israel, it is the Jewish State that for 70 years has sued for peace and the Arabs/Palestinians who have always refused?”

Stuart J. Dow Rabbi David Myers couldn’t Head of School In short, most people use what’s called “System 1” disagree more strongly. thinking. System 1 is fast, intuitive and emotional. In “Response to Gordis: A However, what’s needed to deconstruct the statements Simplistic Misreading of History,” Meyers points to properly is called “System 2” thinking, which is slower, historical leaders from the Israeli Left and Right who more deliberate, more logical — and more difficult. have embraced universalism. He retorts: “One needn’t and shouldn’t attack The latter is what we work others simply because to instill in Emery/Weiner their sense of compassion students — to challenge The latter is what we work to instill in and ethical propriety assumptions, challenge Emery/Weiner graduates — to challenge extends beyond the tribe. conventional wisdom, On the contrary, we assumptions, challenge conventional should be applauding just ask hard questions, avoid wisdom, ask hard questions, avoid ‘easy’ that capacity to manifest “easy” explanations — and eschew emotionallyexplanations — and eshew emotionally- empathy beyond one’s driven arguments in favor own without surrendering driven arguments in favor of carefully- a sense of love and of carefully-reasoned reasoned ones. ones. This is especially belonging to the Jewish important on issues that people.” are emotional — such as Israel. Regardless of which Rabbi they find more persuasive, I want our kids to To be clear, we certainly want our kids to be passionate, see how both Gordis and Myers write with passion not only about their education, but about issues such and persuasion. For these two gentlemen, the issues as social justice; and we certainly want them to feel they’re sparing over aren’t academic exercises like the connected to the Jewish State — which is why we “intelligent spouse” statements discussed above. To take them every year to Poland and Israel. But when the contrary, these are existential questions that they they’re confronted with virulent anti-Israel (dare I say care deeply about, and their impassioned arguments anti-Semitic) allegations on college campuses — and I are constructed in thoughtful, factual and logical assure you, they will be — we want our graduates to be ways. This is great modeling for our students. Because able to provide “System 2” responses based on history what we want most for Emery/Weiner graduates is and reason. that they’re engaged — with ideas and with the world around them — and that they leave our confines with an enhanced sense of self, a profoundly developed Jewish By way of further example, in my Zionism class this identity and a beautifully-balanced combination of a semester, I asked students to read two “competing” softened-heart and sharpened mind. articles, both prompted by the most recent violence in Gaza. In “When Balance Becomes Betrayal,” Rabbi Danny Gordis laments that “Progressive Jews” wrongly espouse a philosophy of universalism that essentially


Kotarot - Fall 2012  
Kotarot - Fall 2012  

The fall issue of the Kotarot recaps this year's successful 12th Annual Joy of Education (JOE) Dinner, features pictures from throughout the...