Last week, the Globe and Mail covered the ouster of Rabbi Moscowitz from his pulpit at Holy Blossom Temple.
As I read the piece, I wondered: Why would anyone outside of that temple’s laity care about these board-induced machinations? Admittedly, many of the laity of this particular congregation are folks who usually command column inches in the Globe and Mail … but really, when there are more pressing issues like Quebec’s trampling of basic freedoms (even the National Post says so – so it must be serious!) – who cares how icky and slimy the goings-on are inside the board rooms of local synagogues? Dog Bites Man. Move on.
And yet, I heard murmurings and asides (especially at the Miles Nadal JCC Tikkun on Erev Shavuot) about this story, about the huge payout, the anonymous sniping, and the coverage itself (i.e., how it was bad to air dirty Jewish laundry in public. …as if there is a private Jewish space that could be partitioned off from the public interweb… I can hear Jack Wertheimer now: “Get out of my webspace ya darn Gentiles!” Hee hee!) Tsk tsk tsk… a shonde. I thought: Folks who do not want to know how hotdogs are made should not eat them.
However, the most unexpected reaction to this kerfuffle came in the form of a Facebook post from a friend who describes herself as a “pork belly eating vodka drinking rabbi raised apikoros”. She attached long, impassioned letters she wrote to the Toronto Board of Rabbis and the Chair of the Board at Holy Blossom about the “Moscowitz Affair”. She did not pull many punches.
Why did she care? Did the behaviours described in the Globe and Mail surprise her in any way? Why would this pork-belly-eating-vodka-drinking-rabbi-raised-apikoros perturb the poop by writing all these letters? … unless her pork-belly-eating kefirah had nothing to do with her level of engagement (or sociologically quantified lack thereof) with the Jewish people and her concern that its leaders (religious and secular) were acting like idiots?
She might be one of those folks David Bryfman was talking about in his piece over at eJewishphilanthropy when he observed to his dismay that:
many of the most committed and passionate young Jews appear as statistical zeros in Jewish communal surveys.
…Except that my friend, the pork-belly-eating-vodka-drinking-rabbi-raised-apikoros, is only as young as I – and much less-young than the people to which Bryfman was referring…
Which means that this statistical glitch he noted/discovered is not as recent as believed but indicative of a much larger shift in the Jewish community that has been shifting for quite some time. It is only now perhaps that a fringe phenomenon has either (finally) appeared on mainstream radar or that it has crossed over from the periphery to command space in the centre.
Which means that we need a new way of counting or, even better, a new way for the bean counters to appreciate how and why we care.