One fact people across political divides today may still agree upon is that civil discourse is turning less and less civil. Indeed, the sheer lack of desire to try to understand those with opposing political opinions and to disagree constructively over critical questions is posing an existential threat to democracies around the world. In response, Pardes created Mahloket Matters: How to Disagree Constructively which provides materials for rabbis, teachers and lay leaders to use in their synagogue, school or community.
The goal is to utilize Jewish texts and wisdom to increase people’s motivation and ability to understand and engage more constructively with opinions that differ from their own. We believe that this will result in improved personal relationships and civil discourse.
Mahloket Matters consists of five components:
- The Beit Midrash Way – A five-part educational workshop series for use in your community where each unit examines a central question currently under political debate, such as “When do we agree to meet with our political adversaries, and when do we refuse?” These central questions are first analyzed through a biblical conflict story. After carefully analyzing the biblical story and their ambiguities, various interpretations of these facts are then introduced through the study of the classic commentaries on the story. Each unit then examines contradictory historical precedents that can be used to support or refute opposing responses to the central question of the unit. The units each conclude with an activity involving reading contradictory news from a recent event. The Beit Midrash Way includes unit videos to show participants, educator’s videos and source sheets. Available for $500. Those that have already registered for the Beit Midrash Way can access the materials here.
- The Sanhedrin Way – A 60–90 minute educational workshop for use in your community where participants study Jewish texts about the ancient Sanhedrin’s guidelines for engaging in constructive mahloket. Participants then practice what they’ve learned by engaging in an exciting and interactive mock-Sanhedrin exercise. Available at no charge. Those that have already registered for the Sanhedrin Way can access the materials here.
- 9Adar Resources – Individual educational workshop materials for educators, rabbis, and lay leaders that address additional debates whose clash of values have been present throughout the ages. Each unit takes on a “central question” and presents Jewish text study, commentaries, and/or related historical events before addressing the issue in modern times. Created for 9Adar: Jewish Week of Constructive Conflict, and appropriate for use throughout the year. Available at no charge. Those that have already registered for the 9Adar Resources can access the materials here.
- Navigating Inner Challenges and Societal Discord through Jewish Text and Social Emotional Learning – Three educational units that integrate Jewish text study with social emotional learning in order to help equip high school students with the cognitive, emotional, and interpersonal skills necessary to manage internal and external conflicts. For more information, contact Sefi Kraut at email@example.com.
- Rodef Shalom Program – Seven extensive curricular units, advisory program units, and holiday units for middle school students that integrate Jewish learning and the development of conflict resolution skills. Students learn to be skillful at problem solving social situations, active in the prevention of bullying, and committed to creating a more peaceful world. While doing so, students engage with rabbinic texts in ways that are relevant and inspiring to the 21st-century learner. For more information, contact Sefi Kraut at firstname.lastname@example.org.