Sunday, August 21, 2011

Vengeance and Grudges

Monday, August 15, 2011

Evening of Learning

Tisha B'Av 2011/5771.  It was an ordeal to get home in time for the fast, having gotten some patients who needed the healing hands before I could head home.  Rather than cut it tight, I stopped off at a buffet with a reasonable amount of vegetarian not far from Mercy Philadelphia Hospital which would assure me some nutrition in advance of the fast.  I ate quickly, arriving home in time to get to either AKSE, Chabad or Beth Shalom, where my wife was chanting Eicha Chapter 2, barely in time to go to any of them.  I decided to stay home and observe Tisha B'Av evening with the insights of the cyberspace Rabbis instead of rushing to hear Eicha.  Since we are not permitted to greet people that evening, nobody would feel slighted by my staying home

Yeshiva University has an extraordinary program of recording lectures from all sorts of venues, then making them available for download at  They had an entire Tisha B'Av program so I started with an presentation of about a half hour's length by Rabbi Kenneth Brander on Lessons of the Destruction of the Second Temple which was destroyed due to Sinat Chinam and never rebuilt.  Then an intro to Eicha by Rabbi Einhorn who does the synagogue development program for the Orthodox Union.  Then one more less memorable and I fell asleep.  The following night the fast had not yet concluded so I listed to another iPod presentation. 

None of these are interactive, which should be the prototype of rabbinical education, yet there was an elegance to each of the presentations that rarely comes my way live.  We are fortunate to live in a time where the ideas of learned people are so readily accessible and if you want the learning and don't particularly desire the university degree or other credential, they are available at nominal cost.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


New stationery for AKSE with the name of the newly hired cantor on the letterhead.  The first mailing was to tell the truth about the now former cantor's departure.  Rumors have a way of getting around.  No, he was not fired but submitted his resignation with six month's notice and fulfilled his professional expectations to the final day.  He will need a minyan and has to assemble it from somewhere or find one already functioning if he does not wish to attend the one at AKSE.  Nobody will chase him away if he shows up.  I hope nobody will expect him to provide his skills for free if he does come.

Apparently there are rumors that AKSE terminated the Cantor and rumors that he is in the process of siphoning AKSE's talented members.  I must be on the B-list since I've not been invited to join him and heard nothing to the effect of an involuntary departure, though word of these things has reached me indirectly over a considerable distance.  To squash this the President sent out a broad mailing to the congregation, copied to the presidents and Rabbis of all the area synagogues and the Federation.  I think the content of the letter is accurate, whether worth the mailing costs to the congregation might be more questionable.

The On-Line Smicha program apparently goes in stages by topics.  I surmise from all this that the module containing the principles of Genevah or stealing has not yet been tackled.  Leaving a false impression like being terminated when reality is an unsolicited decision to quit would fall into the category  of Genevat Da-at or literally stealing information.  Depriving a congregation of its needed membership dues and its talent by soliciting the departure of others would also be a form of Genevah if specific individuals were targeted, though probably would be more akin to legitimate competition for desired services if not individually solicited.  There is a synagogue etiquette not to lure members of another congregation to your congregation which has maintained collegiality in our region.  This came up at a Board Meeting about three years ago when the new Rabbi arrived and the Membership Committee felt it appropriate to invite back members who had left with individual invitations to return, particularly those with Rabbi generated attrition.  Most had latched onto other congregation, one even becoming its President, so the project was not undertaken to avoid the impression of Genevah.

Will AKSE have some of its dues, attendance and participation skimmed off by all this?  I think there will be a small amount of one time attrition, though less than would ordinarily occur by other deterrents such as high dues, often boring sanctuary experience, and the actuarial outcomes of an aging membership base.