Rabbi’s Comments Roil Community

A local rabbi’s comments last Saturday morning at his synagogue have caused a firestorm in the community. Following his sermon several congregants, speaking between helpings of herring, pastries, and hummus dip, objected variously to his topic and his point of view. “I don’t come to the synagogue to hear people talk about that,” said one long-time member. Another agreed: “He is entitled to his opinions, but it’s just not appropriate for him to say such things from the pulpit.”

A number of synagogue regulars defended the rabbi. The chair of the synagogue board declared, “It’s a good thing to be provocative sometimes. I’m glad he spoke out, even if I didn’t agree with everything he said.” One of the younger members of the congregation, aged 47, commented “It’s a breath of fresh air to hear someone break the mold.”

Reached in his office on Monday morning, the president of the area Federation distanced himself from the controversy. “The synagogue is not a grantee of Federation and we were not a party to the concept, drafting, or approval of the rabbi’s comments. This is strictly a matter for the synagogue,” she said. The executive director of theRegional Association of Jewish Clergy noted that “each rabbi is an independent voice in his or her pulpit, and I know this community respects that.”

The editor of the local newspaper, the Weekly Jewish Week, summed up the sentiments of many long-time area residents. “There are valid points on both sides. It’s not clear how this will end. But one thing is certain: this is an event that will be remembered for a long time to come.”

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