Sunday, June 1, 2008

Stop Shul Poker Games & Casino Nights

Forbidding Shul-Related Poker Games, "Las Vegas Nights," "Casino Gambling Nights," and Similar Events

It long has been my halakhic position that all synagogues should not – and many synagogues may not – sponsor, conduct, participate in, or otherwise associate with poker games, “Las Vegas Nights,” “Casino Gambling” events, or other such events.

As I have gotten to know Jewish communities outside main Torah centers, my position has solidified further that, at such places and at such times in Shuls’ and Jewish communities’ evolutions, such an halakhic position prohibiting these events is mandated. In reaching my opinion, grounded in several authoritative halakhic sources, I note a policy statement written for the benefit of both the laity and the rabbinate and adopted two years ago by the convened membership of the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA).

The RCA resolution is not singularly determinative of those deeply grounded views. But I do share it, hopeful that it helps shed an aspect of light on this issue of national significance.

Gambling as Communal Fundraising Vehicle: RCA Calls Upon Communal Institutions to Desist from Using High-Stakes Gambling to Raise Funds (Newark, NJ) May 17, 2005 --

Whereas gambling in general, and card games involving significant wagering
such as poker in particular, have received tremendous public attention as a
result of numerous depictions in the media of both gaming professionals as well
as popular celebrities engaging in high-stakes games of chance; and,

Whereas certain Jewish communal institutions – e.g., synagogues, day
schools, federations, and other Jewish fraternal organizations - have recently
placed an increased emphasis upon offering “Las Vegas” nights and poker games as
a new way to raise significant funds; and,

Whereas it is readily apparent that high stakes gambling runs counter to
Jewish values; and,

Whereas Jewish communal organizations must always model appropriate ethical
and moral standards not only as they carry out their mandates, but also as they
promote themselves, especially when encouraging Jews to participate in specific
activities for fundraising purposes; and,

Whereas the Orthodox community recognizes that the alarming, “at-risk”
behavior of many adolescents, including excessive gambling, is in part fostered
by the well-publicized activities of their adult role-models and of the Jewish
institutions of their communities:

Therefore, the Rabbinical Council of America hereby calls upon all Jewish
communal institutions not to use gambling as a fundraising vehicle and to seek
alternative fundraising methods instead, even if they thereby raise less

No comments:

Post a Comment