We can disagree without being disagreeable ...
In 2012, inspired by the lessons of her upbringing about the power of respectful dialogue, Dina Wolfman Baker established the Bernard Wolfman Civil Discourse Project in collaboration with the rabbis at Beth Sholom Congregation. Through social media and a free annual forum for 900, the project offers an antidote to incivility. In doing so, it memorializes Baker's father, Professor Bernard Wolfman, a renowned scholar of legal ethics and tax law and a champion of both civility and civil rights.
A beloved childhood memory summarizes Professor Wolfman's legacy of civil discourse. "Every time my brothers or I said 'shut up' to each other, my father assessed us a dime," remembers Baker. "But if we told on each other, he instead charged a 20-cent tattler's fee. In retrospect, I realize that we learned from this the value he placed on respectful civil discourse among us and working together to resolve our differences."
This project creates a space to discuss the pressing issues of our time, models and encourages civil disagreement, and provides opportunities for people on all sides of an issue to learn from each other and take meaningful action. Housed at Beth Sholom Congregation, the synagogue at which Professor Wolfman raised his children, this project draws upon the value Judaism places on education, divergent truths and justice, and it honors the tradition of activism shared by most of the world's mainstream religions.