Taking on the Chief Rabbinate

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Props to JTA for pointing out Rabbi Marc Angel’s scathing critique of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate in the Jerusalem Post. The rant includes these harsh words.

THE CHIEF Rabbinate functions as though it were leading a cult rather than a world religion with a grand, universal message. It adopts extreme haredi positions and attitudes because it seems to view the haredi community as the only constituency that matters. (MORE)

Of course, Conservative and Reform rabbis have been voicing their concerns about the authority of the Israeli rabbinate for years. It’s Rabbi Angel’s Orthodox bonafides that makes this critique so significant.

That being said, Rabbi Angel’s attack would be even more upstanding had it come before the rabbinate began tussling with the Rabbinical Council of America (the organization which Rabbi Angel used to be the president of).

Meaning, we’re used to seeing Reform/Conservative Jews critique the Orthodox and Orthodox Jews critiquing the Reform/Conservative, so it’s nice to see someone standing up to their own denominational peers for once. HOWEVER, to a certain extent Rabbi Angel is only critiquing the rabbinate now because they’ve deemed him and his RCA colleagues as irrelevant as the Reform and Conservative — i.e. perhaps they’re not his peers.

So is this a case of boldly speaking truth to power? Or is it an indictment of Rabbi Angel for standing idly by until the powers that be came for him and his?

Posted on May 30, 2007

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