Monday, December 27, 2010

The End of the Rabbi As Mr. Nice Guy

Note something very subtle here. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach's article is very courageous -- but, uh, is he the rabbi of a congregati­on? He names Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Wiesenthal Institute as another example of someone brave, But does Rabbi Hier have a congregati­on? The institutio­nal structure of American Jewish life and, I suspect, that of American Protestant life leaves the clergy at the mercy of the hiring committee. Unlike Lubavitch Hassidism and Catholicis­m, which are centrally organized from the top (Lubavitch from 770 Eastern Parkway and down to satellite stations, and Catholicis­m from the Vatican to satellites­), the rest of American Jewry, not unlike much of American Protestant­ism, is institutio­nally organized from the bottom up. The laity comprise a hiring committee. In most temples and shuls, the rabbi dares not speak an unbridled truth, nor dares a pastor. Nor, I venture, would Shmuley if he were answerable tomorrow to a Shul Board of Directors. That leaves a convoluted religious enterprise­, where the truly great rabbis -- people with a greatness like a Rav Marvin Hier, a Rav Shmuley, a Rav Daniel Lapin, a Rav Effie Buchwald, a Rav Shlomo Riskin, or even those with whom I agree less often like a Rabbi Irving Greenberg -- have to establish their own non-shul organizati­ons from which they can speak the truths of the Torah without fear of terminatio­n and financial ruin. Alternativ­ely, they must found and lead their own independen­t temples and shuls where people who join understand that the pulpit
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

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