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May 08, 1987 - Image 10

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-05-08

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

.

For The

UNBEATABLE DEAL
s. LARRY KAPLAN

OP-ED

New Cars - Trucks • Used Cars - Leasing

Rabbis

nien

Continued from Page 7

THE UNBEATABLE DEALER

tts5
4 3101,

---4

sr: •

NEW 1987 CAVALIER

NEW 1987 CAMARO

SAVE UP TO

SPRING
$1000 * CASH

ON THESE
SELECT MODELS

4' #11Ali,vw__

" E I NBEATABLE D AL R '

0'

NEW 1987 CELEBRITY

NEW 1987 NOVA

NEW 1988 CORSICA

NEW 1988 BERETTA

NEW 1987 SPECTRUM

28111 Telegraph and 12 Mile
at 1-696

355-1000

CMS

OM QUALITY
SERVICE PARTS

GM

SWIM' M110111 00111.0•AlICIN

10 Friday, May 8, 1987

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

*On Camaro, Celebrity (4
cyl.), Spectrum, Nova.
Dealer participation may af-
fect consumer cost. Offer
expires May 31, 1987, on
Celebrity, Cavalier, Ca-
maro, Nova, Corsica and
Beretta. Offer expires June
30, 1987, on Spectrum only.

. 3 V30 319 VIV39 N11 3H1,, .. 8 31V30 319V/V39 N11 Hi,

talra a.
sow
A011.1

1V30 319 V1V39 Nil 3H1,

6th
Anniversary
Sale

.831V30 319V1V39N 3H1,

Across from Tel-12 Mall

. /131V30 318V13138N 1 3. ,

NBEATABLE DEALE R" "THE U NBEATABLE DEALER"

28111 Telegraph Rd. & 1-696

(313) 355-1000
(313) 355-6414

when things go wrong at a
synagogue or temple, the
rabbi is the first to be blamed
(if there is not a convenient
administrator or cantor
handy). If membership isn't
booming, if the children
aren't learning enough, if the
building is too old or in the
wrong place, firing the rabbi
usually seems to be the best
solution.
The result of all of this is
quite obvious. Being a rabbi
is no job for a nice Jewish
boy or girl.
There are three ways out
for the rabbi in the current
system. The first is complete
burnout. He or she must
leave congregational life to
become either an adminis-
trator in the Jewish com-
munal field, a Jewish
educator, a federation profes-
sional (where the story often
repeats itself), or leave
Jewish communal life com-
pletely.

The second is rampant
mediocrity, usually in
smaller congregations that
cannot attract the flashier
models. Mayor Richard Daley
once said: "Don't make no
waves, don't back no losers."
The rabbi becomes a non-
entity, an invisible person
who is neither threatening
nor very active. The rabbi
stays, but has little to say
and little to do.
The third is to. become a
Mr. or Ms. Slick, to quote a
popular rock song: "I know
all the rules and I know how
to break 'em, and I always
know the name of the game."
The rabbi has been eaten up,
not because he left the field,
or stayed in it as a defeated
player, but because the
spiritual leadership and
guidance he might have pro-
vided has been subverted to
power politics, glad-handing,
and obligatory interesting
but banal speeches.
Congregations cannot
blame the rabbi for providing
the teflon-coated superstar
that they have demanded. If
he does not conform to their
notion of Everything to
Everyone, they have no more
compunction about firing him
than they would the janitor.
Tragically, as they eat up the
rabbis, they are also destroy-
ing the spiritual soul of con-
temporary Judaism.
Congregational rabbis can-
not be expected to survive in
the political milieu of con-
temporary synagogue life
without adopting some of the
behaviors of the congrega-
tions they serve. They cannot
be all things to all people
without becoming defeated or
manipulative themselves.
Congregations create shells
or shills, and the process de-
stroys the best aspects of both
the human beings and the in-
stitutions they serve.
Make no mistake — many

rabbis thrive in their
capacity as master politicians
in their little fiefdoms. Cer-
tainly some rabbis have a
Moses complex, believing
they are direct conduits to
God. Some have egos larger
than the State of Montana,
and enjoy the opportunity to
play so many roles in
synagogue life. That is a
tragic waste of energy, be-
cause contemporary
synagogue life is so often
empty of true spiritual ex-
citement. It is very sad that
the rabbi is the last person in
the synagogue who would be
able to provide that religious
. joy or excitement. He is too
busy recruiting bingo volun-
teers or helping raise funds
for the new chapel, or of-
ficiating at a wedding of two
strangers in his congregation:
But it is astonishing that
some people blame the rabbi
for succeeding within this
corrupting system. By con-
forming to the political rules,
some rabbis master the game.

It is astonishing.
that some people
blame the rabbi
for succeeding
within this
corrupting system.

That is what good performers
do, and why the rabbinate is
increasingly populated by
those who have the stomach
for non-stop glamour shows.
Of course, many' rabbis
have risen above the system
by being spiritual leaders and
teachers. They refuse to play
the game, and refuse to enter
the political fray. They are
secure enough in their _
knowledge, their relation-
ships, and their influence.
They exert leadership and
guidance through the moral
authority that comes from
being good leaders and role
models.
Rabbis ought to be schol-
ars. They ought to be
teachers. They ought to be
spiritual leaders. They ought
to provide religious guidance
and comfort. The contempor-
ary American scene has
enough cheerleaders, power
brokers, politicians, and so-
cial workers. If we keep de-
manding these things from
our rabbis, they will have lit-
tle time, energy, or inclina-
tion to provide the religious
substance that the Jewish
community needs so desper-
ately. We will have a great
show, but one as hollow as a
three-minute rock video. It
will be full of images, but no
one will remember what they
heard or saw.
Synagogues need adminis-
trators, educators, counselors,
and planners. If synagogues
and temples were more in-

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