In a well-cited academic article, Dr. Steinberg gives an overview for the benefit of both academics and congregations. He asks what Jewish tradition as reflected in the Bible, Talmud and Halacha, offers to contemporary discussions and practices of alternative dispute resolution. He cites traditional and historical precedent for compromise, mediation and arbitration as elements of the call to seek peace. Still, he states, the sources do not offer much in the way of specific practices for such mediation. Noting also that the tradition only addresses individual conflict, he turns to a discussion of leadership in community conflict resolution, beginning with Aharon and a close reading of that biblical text. The following section discusses the role of the rabbi in setting community standards and preventing conflict. The article closes with a frank discussion of the rise in conflict and the limited success of conflict resolution efforts in all of society. He calls for long-range, community-wide strategies, involving the Jewish population at large, and not focused just on leaders and elites. This article will be helpful to any Jewish leader seeking an overview of the tradition’s teachings on conflict and conflict resolution.
Reviewed by Wendy McCormick