RABBIS AND SYNAGOGUES SHOULD STICK TO THEIR STRENGTHS, by By Martin Lockshin
As we are preparing for this year's High Holidays here is something for us to think about:
Alongside inclusivity, many synagogues emphasize other popular liberal causes. But Wertheimer notes that this takes them away from their traditional roles. To justify the switch, he says religious leaders “invented a new commandment during the 1980s – the injunction to engage in tikun olam, the repair of the world.”
Rabbis often avoid telling their congregants that Judaism demands anything specifically Jewish of them. Wertheimer relates the telling story of a rabbi who, on Rosh Hashanah, “invited congregants to speak before each shofar blast about what they intend to do over the coming year about three issues the rabbi felt ought to be uppermost when entering the new year – gun violence, gay rights and human trafficking. The latter topic proved so unsettling to young people in the sanctuary that the rabbi publicly apologized for having created an ‘unsafe space for children’ by raising the topic of contemporary slavery.”
Can we increase Jewish participation in Judaism by making Judaism less Jewish? It seems like that's what some rabbis and congregations are trying to do. Historically, that's been a losing strategy.