Rabbi urges a bolder ap­proach

The Jewish Chronicle - - Community - BY SI­MON ROCKER

ONE OF Bri­tain’s most se­nior Ortho­dox min­is­ters has called for bolder lead­er­ship, say­ing that too many rab­bis are seen as “un­worldly and uneducated”.

Rabbi Dr Jef­frey Co­hen’s com­ments were made in a hard-hit­ting ser­mon at Hamp­stead Gar­den Sub­urb Synagogue on Shab­bat.

The­formerS­tan­morem­i­nis­ter­citeda tal­mu­dic story con­nect­ing the de­struc­tion of the Tem­ple to the fail­ure of rab­bis in Ro­man times to act de­ci­sively for fear of what oth­ers might say.

Was there not a mes­sage in that for rab­bis to rise to the needs of the hour and ad­dress the rel­e­vant is­sues of the day, rather than “as, alas, seems to be too of­ten the case, to get in­volved in minu­tiae of tex­tual in­ter­pre­ta­tion”?

And was t her e not “a call to them to en­sure that they ap­ply To­rah prin­ci­ples to the real moral maze in which we — and es­pe­cially our young peo­ple — live?

“ T h e manif o l d en­tice­ments and dan­gers for which the su­per­fi­cial level of Jewish ed­u­ca­tion that most of our schools of­fer pro­vides lit­tle guid­ance or coun­ter­bal­ance.”

More­over, “a rabbi who who fears to adapt our halachic and spir­i­tual per­spec­tives for the preser­va­tion of our largely wa­ver­ing United Synagogue af­fil­i­ates… has no right to speak with the au­thor­ity of Ortho­dox Ju­daism.”

He went on: “It is tragic the fre­quency with which we hear the com­plaint em­a­nat­ing from shuls around the world that their rab­bis dis­play no lead­er­ship, that they are un­worldly and uneducated, that they fo­cus on ir­rel­e­vant is­sues and are out of touch — and not only with the youth.”

Tues­day’s fast of Tishah b’Av was “as much a lament for the demise of coura­geous, in­spi­ra­tional and tol­er­ant spir­i­tual lead­er­ship as it is for the de­struc­tion of the Tem­ple. The lat­ter sit­u­a­tion may not be in our hands to re­dress. The for­mer as­suredly is.”

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