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August 04, 1978 - Image 24

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1978-08-04

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

24 friday, August


1978' :

Oak Park
R.O. Twp.


County Commis:1o•


Rabbi Looks Favorably on Two Surveys o Profession

It is surprising that no

one until now has underta-
ken to write a complete his-
tory of the rabbinate, al-

though this important in-
stitution in Jewish life has
been the theme of numerous
brief articles and reminis-
cences scattered in various




dynamic PAINT




Yet, many a record of per-
sonal history in this field
remains unpublished. The
result is that the average
intelligent Jew has only a
hazy idea of the rabbi and
the role that he has played
in the growth of Judaism
and Jewish life.
What were the qualifica-
tion required of the rabbi?
How was he trained and
what was the rabbinic cur-
riculum at different times?
What is the story of the or-
dination (smikha) of the
rabbi? When did he begin to
be remunerated for his ser-
vices? What were the ex-
periences of the rabbi in
relation to his community?
A good, popular, well
written survey of this
subject is contained in
"Rabbi — The American
Experience" by Murray
Polner. Published by
Holt, Rinehart and
Winston, Inc., this book is
the result of personal ac-
quaintance with many
rabbis in different kinds
of communities, of inter-
views with seminary stu-
dents and of a wide read-
ing of unpublished
memoirs. "A Note on
Sources" at the end of the
volume gives the reader
an idea of the material
that went into the writing



an exceptional new
voice for justice

• Active Trial Attorney (Civil and Criminal) • Endorsed by the South
Oakland County Police Officers Association • Resident of Bloomfield
Hills ; former -resident of Southfield. Oak Park • Juris Doctorate
from Wayne State University Law School (Magna Cum Laude) • B.A.
and M.A. from University of Michigan (With Distinction) • Former
- School Teacher and Instructor of Law. Wayne State University Law
School • Young Lawyers Section of Detroit Bar Association Award

of Achievement • Arbitrator— American Arbitration Association
and State Bar Grievance Board • Mediator—Circuit Court of Oakland County • Appointed to Civil Rights

Commission by Governor Milliken in 1975. Reappointed in 1976 • Elected Treasurer — General Practice
Section of the State Bar of Michigan (1977) • Elected Corresponding Secretary —Southfield Bar Association
• Member of Family Law Committee and Judicial Liaison—Circuit Court Committee — Oakland County
Bar Association • Member of Political Advisory Committee—Women Lawyers Association and Detroit Bar
Association • Participant in Television Series — "Law in
Your Life" (WXYZ-TV) and "Ask the Lawyers" (WTVS-TV).
• Lecturer on Family Law • Life Member of Children's
Hospital Auxiliary • Board Member of Dysautonomia


Vote on the non-partisan side of ballot


. Paid for by Committee to Elect Hilda Gage Circuit Judge, 380 N Main Street, Clawson, Man

of the different chapters
in the book.

A quick introductory sur-
vey of the recent history of
the rabbinate, with em-
phasis on the American
scene, gives the reader an
idea of the soil upon which
the rabbinate grew in Colo-
nial and Revolutionary
times and later in Civil War
days. The rabbi was in
many cases not ordained,
and yet, in spite of the rough
pioneering communities he
had to serve, he succeeded
in laying the foundations of
organized Jewish life in
Some of them, in fact,
achieved lasting reputa-
tions and are remembered
to this day — Isaac Leeser
and Isaac Mayer Wise and
others. We see, at the end of
the last century, the organi-
zation of training schools for
the rabbinate in the several
denominations of American
Some of the key questions
dealt with in the book are:
Why is the rabbinate chosen
as a career by American
young men? Is the rabbi
happy in his calling? Does
he have a feeling of ac-
complishment or of failure?
How does he manage to
maintain his idealism and
cling to his calling with ut-
most dedication? What has
the development of subur-
bia done to Jewish life, the
synagogue and the rabbi-

How about the small
town rabbi? What feeling
of accomplishment and
of happiness does he
have? How does he
handle Jew-Gentile rela-
tionships? Anti-
Semitism? Intermar-
riage? What about the
rabbi in the deep South?
What position does he
take with reference to
Civil Rights and white-
black relationships?
What effect does this
have upon him, his mem-
bers and his synagogue?
What about the threats of
the Klan? And synagogue
bombings? And, in spite
of all, why do some of the
men stick it out and pre-
fer to remain?

What of the Orthodox
rabbi? How much success
does he have in indoctrinat-
ing the members of his
community? How do we
cope with the cleavages in
the Orthodox camp, the
Hasidic groups and others?
Why do young men go in for
the Orthodox rabbinate?
And why do so many prefer

to earn their living after or-
dination in other, even un-
related fields?
And now there is the
Jewish woman in the rabbi-
nate. How is she faring in
her calling, and how is she
regarded by her male col-
leagues? And not the least
of considerations as far as
the woman is concerned is
the rabbi's wife. What role
does she play — or is she
expected to play — in the
congregation and in the
community? And how does
she resolve the conflicting
roles (time-wise, to say the
least) of wife, homemaker
and community figure?
Other recent phenomena
touched on in this book are
the "gay" synagogues and
the Havurot. And finally
the rabbinate as a calling:
will it continue to attract
the kind of people who are
qualified from the point of
view of ability and interest
to serve in the rabbinate?
Has the rabbinate a future?
Another recent book
dealing with the same
subject from a somewhat
different approach is
"The American Rabbi,"
edited by Gilbert S. Ro-
senthal (Ktav). This is a
well-organized and
well-written tribute to
the American rabbi on
the occasion of the Bicen-
tennial of the United
States and the 95th birth-
day of the New York
Board of Rabbis.
Several chapters at the
end of the book deal with the
changing role of the rabbi
on the American scene:
What are his functions at
the present time and what
will they be in the future?
Tangentially, some of the
major problems of Jewish
life in America are touched
on: the problem of Jewish
education and Jewish sur-
vival; the role of Halakha in
the Jewish community of
the future; the individual
Jew in the community and
in American public life; and
finally, the threat of sec-
ularism to religion today
and to the survival of the
religious Jewish commun-
Reform, Orthodox and
Conservative Judaism
are each given adequate
exposure in their efforts
to deal with the various
problems that confront
the American Jewish
community. The impor-
tant role of the New York
Board of Rabbis (which
is, incidentally, by no
means limited to New
York) in the American
Jewish community and
its various activities and
functions, and the posi-
tion it takes on numerous
American and Jewish is-
sues sheds a good deal of
light on the American
rabbinate and its role in
the American Jewish
The book is dedicated to
the late Rabbi Harold H.
Gordon, who served for
many years as the executive
vice president of the New
York Board of . Rabbis and
who, unfortunately, died at
about the same time that
the book was published.

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