Thursday, September 20, 2007

What are the responsibilities for a Rabbi of a shul?

I recently had a debate with a friend of mine, Lance, regarding the Rabbi of his shul, who was hired last year. The problem now is some board members want to fire him. Over the past few months they have complained of his lateness to shacharis in the morning, which as a Rabbi of a shul this is unacceptable. On top of that, they are having a hard time getting a minyan and he often constitutes the final 10.

Lance insists he is a great Rabbi to seek guidance from and very knowledgeable. He also lauds his weekly shiur, and therefore Lance is against his possible firing.

The debate we are having is what exactly a Rabbi's responsibilities are. My argument is a if a Rabbi of a shul should lead by example and maintain order, while offering guidance in other issues is an added bonus.

When I say leading by example, I mean coming on time and not talking. If there is too much talking in the shul, it is the rabbi’s job to try and keep it a minimum. I know the Rav of my modern shul stops laining if it gets too loud. A shul needs some kind of leadership. Despite us being adults, there still needs someone in charge. Imagine if an entire shul came a half an hour late. Imagine an entire shul talking so loud you can hear it from a block away. It's the Rabbi’s job to make sure those things don't happen be managing and leading the way. That can only work if he comes in on time every time (even early) and not talk ever during davening (while making sure others don’t talk as well).

Sorry Lance, this rabbi has got to go. Despite his very or even too ‘approachable’ attitude and his knowledge, a shul can not have a slacker for a Rabbi. Why should I come on time, why should I stop talking if the leader of my shul is doing the same thing as me?


flatbush gal said...

cant he get a warning like if u dont make x and y changes ull be fired? wont that make him get his act together

LT said...

There are two questions:

1) Which is more important? Being a great spiritual leader or being a good example in punctuality and observance?

2) Which is more rare?

Even if you accept that it's absolutely essential for a Rabbi to be there on time, I'd argue it's much easier to find some shmoe who can come to shul on time than it is to find a spiritual leader who gives rgeat shiurim and who gives people faith and hope in their times of need. I agree with Flatbush Gal. I think you should do your best to work with this Rabbi first. Maybe work in steps. Explain that you love the shiurim and the other things he offers, the lateness is a major concern. Ask him to make an effort to come just 5 minutes ealier every day for the next month, then 5 minutes earlier the month after that.

Good rabbis are hard to find. And sometimes, rabbis don't come to communities great, but instead develop greatness over time if given an understanding and patient community.

I say give him some more chances.

Jacob Da Jew said...

A Rabbi is like the manager.

If the Manager isn't around, who will open the store? He's got the keys.

True, a good Rabbi is hard to find, but there are certain basic requirements, and being there on-time is one of them.

LT, your point might stand if he wasn't nec. for the Minyan , but he is. Now he totally shirking his duty to the cong.

Anonymous said...

it appears that this rabbi has good qualities as well. it is wrong to fire him just for that. if there are other issues then fine. but for coming late? that is ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

is there another reason that they want to fire the rabbi? like maybe they disagree with him on he way he runs the shul? Like maybe he is too frum or not enough?

Notsofrummie said...

Anon's - He does have good qualities, but not neccesarily the qualities needed in this situation. This is part of running the shul and this is not how some one runs a shul. The majority of the people want him to come on time. he is not, therefore he should be fired. I definitely agree to give him another shot of coming of coming on time. But Lance apears to believe that punctuality is a non issue. Puncuality is key.

LT said...

So if you give him another chance, try behavioral therapy - 5 minutes earlier for one month, then 5 earlier than that the next month. As much as the shul has a problem, the Rabbi has a problem too. No doubt he wishes he could just come on time... but it's not that simple for him. Give him a true, working chance by helping him work through his issue... if you end up firing him anyway, no harm in waiting a little longer. But if things pan out, you'll be well rewarded.

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