Temple De Hirsch Sinai has a 112-year tradition of leadership in social action, civil rights, and free exchange of ideas. We strive to provide the opportunity for respectful dialog and even disagreement. At the same time, we have a policy regarding invited speakers that we enforce in an evenhanded and straightforward manner.
We do not permit passing out of literature inside our facilities (vitriolic or not) by those who attend our public forums. Rather, we encourage that dissent take place within a civil and thoughtful context. We also never act precipitously. My old friend, Bob Kaufman, was a guest at our annual Clergy Institute, which is primarily intended to foster dialog between clergy of different faiths in the Puget Sound region. The Clergy Institute is also open to members of our congregation and the public.
Bob was seen placing his sheet of information on seats in our sanctuary prior to the lecture. He was respectfully asked not to pass out his literature, warned he would be ejected if he failed to comply, and was told he would have the opportunity to address the speaker and the issues during the scheduled Q&A session over lunch. Bob then proceeded to pass out the same literature to attendees in our foyer. He was again asked to desist and warned that he would be removed if he failed to heed our direction. He continued to pass out his literature and was then, most respectfully and quietly, escorted from our building.
Other participants trying to pass out literature received the same response from us and chose, instead, to participate in the post-presentation dialogue discussion. This resulted in an honest thought-provoking discussion, in which all sides and all voices were heard.
Temple De Hirsch Sinai is open to, and celebrates the diversity of, our members with a commitment to respect the dignity of each person in our midst in a safe, secure environment. We also mean what we say. While Bob may have preferred not to have been asked to leave the premises after two warnings about his conduct, even he can agree that he was treated fairly and with respect.