Posts Tagged ‘Chief Rabbi’
- The really depressing thing about the reports that former Israeli Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger is to plead guilty to corruption charges in a plea bargain is how completely un-shocking the reports are.
- I don’t suppose anybody is surprised that an Israeli Chief Rabbi was prepared to take bribes.
- How shocking is it that it’s no longer shocking?
- Never mind – let’s just keep repeating the mantra Mi K’Amcho Yisroel and not worry about the real world …
- Sometimes it seems that almost every large Jewish religious institution around the world is beset by scandals of corruption and abuse.
- Perhaps that means that individual Jews need to become completely self-reliant for recognising and applying Jewish values in their own daily lives, and cannot expect to get much in the way of reliable guidance from anybody else.
- And perhaps that’s no bad thing …
1. According to the Jewish Chronicle, in the Chief Rabbi’s lecture at the Pontifical Gregorian University he said: “When a civilisation loses its faith, it loses its future. When it recovers its faith, it recovers its future. For the sake of our children, and their children not yet born, we – Jews and Christians, side-by-side – must renew our faith and its prophetic voice. We must help Europe rediscover its soul.”
2. It strikes me that this is about as inappropriate a moment as one could find for it to be suggested that all that Europe needs to rediscover its soul is co-operation between the Catholic church and institutionalised Judaism.
3. Organised religion in general seems to be doing as much as any other force in today’s world to sow the seeds of dissension and violence. While the Catholic church has particularly acute present crises of conscience, all the major religions about which I know anything at all seem to be contributing more to the sum total of human misery than to the sum total of human happiness.
4. The Chief Rabbi is undoubtedly right that Europe – and not just Europe – is in moral crisis, and to describe that as needing to rediscover the soul is entirely apt. Hundreds of thousands of people of all ages are desperately in need of moral direction and focus; and the lack of these is leaving a horrendous mark on the development of societies throughout the world.
5. But what these people need is not a new gang to belong to, or a new dogma to excuse intolerance and thuggery; rather they need help to rediscover the inherent appreciation of moral values that are the image of God in which we are all created. All religions worthy of the name – and many non-religious philosophies and approaches to life – are capable at a personal level of reigniting a human being’s spark of holiness; but organised religion, as distinct from personal religion, is as in need as anyone else of rediscovering its soul; and until it has healed itself it will not be ready to be part of the solution rather than an exacerbation of the problem.
1. The British Jewish community is now in serious trouble, its right to have schools for Jews threatened on two sides. The High Court is about to decide whether JFS can apply its admissions criteria by reference to exclusively orthodox criteria of Jewish status. And the government has recently changed, and is currently in the process of a critical examination of the application of, the laws of selective admission as they relate to faith schools.
2. The surest way to resolve both crises is to determine whose fault they are.
3. In typical style the British Jewish community has already offered a number of possible public answers to that: the Chief Rabbi, the London Beth Din, the parents of the children challenging admissions.
4. In other words, everyone except the rank and file of the British Jewish community: but it is we who have brought this on our selves.
5. A reform leader went on the BBC Radio 4 this morning to explain that the JFS crisis is because orthodox rabbis do not recognise “all” decisions of the reform, so that “technically” the child is not Jewish.
6. An orthodox rabbi was asked to reply to that – so he said “Judaism is not a democracy – you have to abide by the rules.”
7. Which is the point. When judges or Ministers examine our community to see these selective rules in application, they will see that we enforce them strictly only against people on the outside looking in. Once a person is accepted as “technically” Jewish, they can eat what they like, do what they like, and nobody regards them as beyond the pale of the community. But the product of a reform conversion, who may observe more of the rules of kashrut than 90% of our community, who may pray to God more often than 95% of our community, is dismissed as unworthy to mix with our children because of being not Jewish.
8. This attitude is halachically sound, but spiritually bankrupt. While we as a community hold our own rules of religion in apparent contempt, why should we expect judges or Ministers to accord respect to any of them?
9. In the tochahah warnings, God warns that if we behave as if the world is without a ruler, He will allow the world to carry on as if it were. Here too, if we behave as though being Jewish is a matter of mere genetics, God will show us the emptiness and futility of that approach.
10. So the only real answer is, as always, nachpeso derochienu venoshuvo – to sort out our own communal behaviour. If we can live in a way which gives the impression that the rules of the Torah and the rabbis are worthy of respect, perhaps others outside the community will be encouraged to follow suit.