Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Wedmesday the Rabbi Slept Late, round 2

Here's round 1, in which the rabbi couldn't be bothered checking the Passover Guide in the synagogue bulletin (of which I'm the editor) because he was too busy studying. "Okay, so let me get this straight: A congregational rabbi is too occupied with his own personal studies to answer sh'eilot (questions concerning Jewish religious law) that affect the entire congregation. How odd. I thought that answering sh'eilot was one of the principal responsibilities of a rabbi."

After the controversial lecture concerning the communal chanting of Birkat haMazon (Grace After Meals), I go up to the rabbi and ask him why he didn't attend the Siyum Bechorim, the meal celebrating the completion of a study of sacred text that supercedes the Fast of the Firstborn.

A) It's not in my contract.

So what? Our last rabbi, whatever his flaws may have been, schlepped (dragged) himself all the way here from his weekday home in the suburbs to lead the Siyum, and he was a part-timer, too. You live only a few blocks away, in the apartment rented by the congregation for our clergy. What's your excuse?

B) I'm not a firstborn.

So what? You're still our rabbi, aren't you? You're the congregation's only scholar-in-residence. Exactly who else should be expected to lead a study session?

For lack of an alternative, and on no notice whatsoever, my husband grabbed a Chumash and lead us in a study of the Torah reading for the first day of Pesach.

C) You didn't have a minyan anyway.

So what? Are you only obliged to serve as rabbi to this congregation when we have a minyan?

Okay, so let me get this straight: A congregational rabbi who lives within four blocks of the synagogue can't be bothered coming to Morning Minyan to lead the Siyum Bechorim. How odd. I thought that teaching the congregation was one of the principal responsibilities of a rabbi.

I was so disgusted at that point that I walked out of the Seudah Shlishit and went home to davven Maariv (pray the Evening Service). I am seriously concerned that my disdain for this rabbi, who can't discern what constitutes appropriate sermon material, has no respect for the Conservative Movement, and treats the congregation with such contempt is leading me to violate Hillel's injunction "Al tifrosh min hatzibbur," Do not separate yourself from the community." (Pirkei Avot [Verses of the Fathers], Chapter Two, Saying Five.) It's getting to such a point that I'd rather pray at home or travel to another synagogue than pray at my local synagogue and have to deal with the attitude of this rabbi.


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