By Benjamin Munster
Every year, as the country blossoms into spring, the cognoscenti of RSY attend a gathering of ideas. The gathering is called Veidah, and comprises several lengthy ‘asephot’, or meetings, in which the P, B & A (Policies, Beliefs and Actions) of the movement is rigorously scrutinised, re-ratified and updated so as to keep RSY firmly ahead of its time.
Amongst the attendees, any sense of hierarchy is rapidly dissolved in the light of the harsh Norwich sun, and the harsher light of ideological passion; laconic, swaggering veterans of the movement are judged to the same standard as the outspoken Netzer fledglings, each person equal before the Lovecraftian enormity of the RSY ideology, capable of driving even the most sound minded individual into utter, unrelenting madness as simple disagreements contort themselves into confrontational monstrosities, only to be finally settled as the time limit is reached and a vote is made. The ideological beast subsides, and calm is briefly restored.
That’s the most curious part of Veidah; often, one can vehemently argue against a particular motion for hours, only to immediately and enthusiastically move forwards with neither grudge nor bitterness if it so happens that their efforts fail. It is a community truly built on trust, in which deference is always, no matter how difficult, given to the majority once the vote has been made. For ultimately, the passion that goes into the movement is a passion that comes from a singular place; love for the community and a desire to optimise it for everybody, so it is only natural that nearly everybody can find some satisfaction with each result.
No-one sums it up better than my friend and mentor Danny Estreich, who, in that inimitable way of his, said ‘This whole process rather seems like a microcosm of democracy, a litmus test as it were for the functionality of the very fabric of our society. Here we see, in vivid action, what Rawls was referring to when he spoke of the ‘reflective equilibrium’ in our quest for moral virtue’. As often with Danny, his literary references were far too obscure for me to understand, but his voice rang clear and bright with his unfailing dedication to the Netzer cause, as did the voices of the other 40 passionate Jews in attendance.