Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Parish Rabbi

Do you know who the chief rabbi of your city is? Does your neighborhood have a rabbi? If you have some religious questions where do you go? You want to participate in a bit of Yom Kippur, but bike riding seems so disconnected. You haven't been to a bet knesset since your bar-mitzva, how should you celebrate your son's?

What we need is the parish rabbi. The person who will go into a secular neighborhood and go door to door telling people that he is their rabbi if they need any dose of spirituality. He must be open and warm, ready to celebrate the good times and provide support during difficulties. We need batei knesset where secular people feel welcome, where they can go for their smachot and feel at home. Maybe a Yom Kippur davening that does not take all day, and includes inspirational speeches. The rabbi should not condone the behavior of people who do not follow the religious laws, but he should not condemn them either. Teach out of love and reach out to people.

We have to understand that the reality is that most Jews in Israel consider themselves to be not religious. However, a large percentage are traditional in many aspects, including having a seder on Pesach, dressing up on Purim, lighting Chanukah candles, etc.. The chumra of the week is driving these people farther away instead of closer. We definitely need to reconsider the reality and think of a strategy to bring Jews closer to Judaism instead of farther away.

This is not just a pipe dream. The Bayit Yehudi/national religious can make it a reality as we get more political power. Currently, religious services in Israel are owned by the chareidi rabbinate. Unfortunately, most of the people who require religious services are not religious and the chareidi rabbis generally do not understand the secular population and have no desire to speak to them. As the Bayit Yehudi grows in power, we will have the power to appoint these parish rabbis, who want to effect change and draw people in.  This has already been started by the Tzohar rabbis. They have seen the hatred that the secular community has for the religious figures they have to deal with when they want to get married or buried. They see there is no answer for people who just want a bit of spirituality in their lives, but are not ready to commit to a full religious lifestyle.


Warren Burstein said...

Another salary to pay out of my taxes? Fire them all!

Yes, I know very well who the chief rabbi of my city (Jerusalem) is. No one. We haven't had one (two, actually) for years. And we don't need one! The only people interested in having one are the various factions trying to get their chosen candidate in place. And of course whoever would get the nice salary.

rockofgalilee said...

Most cities are paying rabbis and I'm sure there are plenty on the Jerusalem city payroll. The question is are those rabbis benefiting the tax payers by providing services in the way I described or are they causing hatred and frustration instead