Friday, April 01, 2011

Getting the h _ _ _ out of Dodge

Dodge City [Kansas] was the setting of innumerable Wild-West movies and books and, most prominently, the CBS-TV series Gunsmoke, which ran from 1955 to 1975. After being defeated by the good guys, badmen might stereotypically be commanded to "get the hell out of Dodge."”

The transferred sense, 'to leave or get out (of anywhere) at once', arose in the mid-1960s, when it was recorded in the slang of youth gangs, and became common by the 1970s.”

You might as well start with my Not the best thing to read right before Shabbat.

To tell the story from the beginning, I’d have to go back roughly 15 years, to the year that my husband was president of our local synagogue, and the current president—the co-signatory mentioned in the linked post—was vice president. (The nominating committee quickly figured out that, since my husband ended up doing much of the treasurer’s work anyway, he would serve the congregation better by going back to being treasurer.) Even when he was vice president, the current president was taking actions in the synagogue’s name without my husband’s knowledge or consent. But I’ll try not to bore you with the gantze megillah (the whole long story).

That said, the Megillah actually plays a part in this sad tale.

Some years ago, a pair of hard-working congregants (one of whom was then a shul vice president) decided to try to organize the shul’s (synagogue's) liturgical texts. So they gathered, in one basement storage room, all of our haggadot and High Holiday machzorim/prayer books, and put all of our Megillat Esther, Shir haShirim (Song of Songs), Megillat Ruth, Eichah (Lamentations), and Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) books in labeled boxes so that they could be found easily and carried upstairs to the sanctuary and back down without too much difficulty. Unfortunately, they were unable to control access to the storage room, and it deteriorated into such a junk pile that, only a few years after their efforts, we were unable to find the Megillat Esther books on Purim and had to do the entire Megillah reading with just the actual megillah/scroll and a couple of books that my husband and I had brought from home—there were no texts for the rest of the congregation.

Fast forward to this year’s Purim. As a precautionary measure, I went downstairs on Shabbat (Sabbath) after the morning services to check to see where the Megillat Esther books were—and couldn’t find them. I reported this to the president, who assured me that the books were there and that he would find them. That evening, the president took me, my husband, and the cantor to the storage room and pointed out a pile of Megillat Esther books, rubbing it in my face that I hadn’t seen them. I felt pretty stupid, saying that I must have mistaken them for haggadot, since they weren’t in the expected labeled box. Even the cantor began mocking me.

And that’s when it got interesting—for no reason whatsoever, the president verbally attacked the cantor, accusing him of not caring about anything but his paycheck. I chastised the president, but he wouldn’t shut up until he was darned good and ready.

It got even more interesting when my husband reminded me, after we’d gone home following the Megillah reading, that he, too, had looked for the Megillat Esther books, and that he hadn’t seen them either.

The former vice president who’d helped organize the books had resigned after the president had publicly accused her of some misdeed the nature of which I can’t even remember and hadn’t bothered issuing a public apology until some six months later. After that incident, we decided that the president was a power-hunger egocentric who resented the very idea that any other member of the congregation (or any shul employee) might possibly get credit for anything—he wanted to hog all the credit for himself. Therefore, he sabotaged anyone else’s efforts to do anything for the synagogue, driving my husband and both vice presidents to resign their Executive Board positions because the president had passively and/or actively prevented them from doing their jobs.

Given that history, we came to the conclusion that the president had deliberately hidden the Megillat Esther books in order to make the rest of us look like idiots and himself like the hero who’d saved the day.

(Lest you think that I'm joking, the latest report, heard from a reliable source, is that some of the people from the neighborhood, and even some of our shul's own temporary employees, believe that the president bought and owns our synagogue building. We assume that he knows this, and that, like the Lubavitcher Rebbe, alav hashalom [may he rest in peace], he will neither confirm nor deny.)

After the Purim incident, I asked my husband whether he was at risk of facing any more of the president’s mistreatment than he’d already faced. My husband said he thought that the president, especially in light of his recent health problems, would have to be nice to him because he was the acting rabbi and the only congregant healthy enough to be able to help consistently with the shul’s accounting, though my husband will no longer sign any shul document. But I said that the opposite was also possible: If the president’s health continues to be a problem and he finds himself facing the possibility of losing his status as “the king of ‘Main Street’”—since becoming shul president, he’s made quite a name for himself in our neighborhood by providing facilities in our shul building for local political, cultural, and social events—he might try to trash my husband’s reputation just to prove that he, and he alone, is still the boss. And, to boot, if anything happens to the president that’s serious enough to take him out of commission permanently, my husband’s going to be left holding the bag, faced with the necessity of cleaning up the mess that the president created. (See the linked post.) The faster we get out of this neighborhood, and this shul, the better off we'll be.


Blogger Miami Al said...

Resign position with enough time to be replaced. Let him do what he wants. There is no need to fight him if he wants to run a kleptocracy given that it's a dead Shul.

If he owns the building, that should be public record.

Shavuah Tov

Sat Apr 02, 09:17:00 PM 2011  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

My husband resigned as treasurer more that two years ago.

The president does *not* own the building and never has--the synagogue's current building was constructed using funds earned from the sale of the synagogue's previous building. The building was paid for, and is owned, by the entire congregation.

Sat Apr 02, 09:39:00 PM 2011  
Blogger Miami Al said...

Maybe... 501(c)3s are strange things if the leader is corrupt. The "entire congregation," as an unincorporated entity, can't own anything. The Synagogue corporation could own it, a holding company could own it "in trust for the entire congregation," etc.

Who knows if he got a lein against it under unusual circumstances, etc. Get your names off everything.

Sat Apr 02, 10:23:00 PM 2011  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Our synagogue is a non-profit corporation, and it's that non-profit corporation that owns our synagogue building.

My husband is at a bit of a loss to imagine under what circumstances the president himself could have taken out a lien on the building, since the congregation doesn't owe the president any money. In any case, the Hubster is no longer an authorized signatory, now that he's no longer on the Executive Board, so his name is not on any document that's less than about two years old.

Sun Apr 03, 10:47:00 AM 2011  
Blogger Miami Al said...

If the President is an ego maniac, who cares. If he's a crook, it's another story. I'd get nervous if rumors are swilling that he owns the building or other nonsense.

Some would say stay and fight. I see little reason to fight when the benefit would be the congregation that would torture you for fighting, and the cost would be yours.

If you are getting out of Dodge, get out of Dodge.

Sun Apr 03, 09:40:00 PM 2011  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Unfortunately, we'll be here for at least one more year--since about 50% of my husband's tax and accounting clients live within walking distance, it simply doesn't make sense for us to move until he retires and closes his CPA practice after the 2012 tax season.

Mon Apr 04, 07:58:00 AM 2011  
Blogger Miami Al said...

Living there doesn't require you two to serve as defacto clergymen and on every committee there. It requires you to show up there on Shabbat.

Mon Apr 04, 11:58:00 AM 2011  
Blogger Susan B said...

Thank you for giving me yet another reason to love my synagogue community. Nothing even vaguely approaching this kind of madness would happen there, and if any one mocked anyone else for anything, they would be quickly pulled aside and spoken with in private.

I hope you find a synagogue community with more shalom soon.

Tue Apr 05, 03:47:00 PM 2011  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Susan B., lucky you, and wish us luck.

Wed Apr 06, 03:05:00 PM 2011  
Blogger Susan B said...

I wish you luck.

Wed Apr 06, 03:13:00 PM 2011  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Thanks. We can certainly use some.

Wed Apr 06, 06:28:00 PM 2011  

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