Sunday, January 30, 2005

The Rabbi and the Kiddush Club

The OU put out a press release recommending that shuils ban the kiddush club. Our Kiddush club is kind of like social security; rabbis who try to tamper with the only organization in the shul that has existed since the shul's founding find themselves in hot water, and soon move on to other jobs.

But the OU emboldened our Rabbi, who, in a moment of cowardice or wisdom, urged the board to put a stop to the Kiddush club rather than stand up to the Kiddush Club himself, in his speech on Shabbat morning.

I believe the Kiddush club is wrong. I don't think it is proper to go out and have Kiddush during Haftorah every week. But I do leave the shul anyway for HafTorah every week, and since I am in the halls anyway, i go to have a couple of shots and some salami or corned beef that is served each week.

But the rabbi is wrong on several accounts. He said that the Kiddush club sends the wrong message to our kids. This is the same man who is allowing the shul to hold a Casino Night later this year. What's worse, seeing legal adults (every in the club is over 21. kids are not allowed to come in) enjoying a beverage in a responsible way, or preying on people's worst habits to try and raise money for the shul?

The rabbi comes across as a hypocrit in other ways as well. From him shushing people one week while having conversations other weeks, or even just a few minutes before his shush. And preaching not drinking in shul because it is a bad example to kids while promoting drinking in shul at the annual Purim Seuda.

At Shalosh Shudes, insists that people either sing or not talk during Zemirot. That is, unless he is doing the talking.

There are a hundred examples of how he says one thing, then does another.

Lucky me. I was asked to go talk to the rabbi and tell him what a fuck-up he is and that he needs to change or we are going to lose members. I can tell you this. It will be an interesting conversation. We are the same age, his kids and my kids are friends and we have a carpool together. And he is a nice guy. He just wants to be both the rabbi and one of the guys, even though he will speak from the pulpit saying he is not one of the guys.

The real problem is when we voted to extend his contract, 88% of the people were in favor of him. Two ways to read that.

1) He is the most beloved Rabbi in the history of Rabbis.
2) 88% of the shul did not want to got through another rabbinical search.

He tried to get extra benefits to his contract after the vote, because he thought he was the man. The uproar at the general membership meeting that ploy caused should have told him he wasn't quite as popular as he thought.

The upshot is that he is tied to us for three years, and we are tied to him as well. He isn't so happy, and wants to leave, but can't right now.

I doubt he will get a new contract when this one expires, but in the meantime, we can't have him chasing the people away.


Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

I was one of several people who hired the Rabbi of my previous shul. I really loved the guy. I still like him. I always supported him, stuck up for him,
and defended him.

But about four years ago, he decided to take on the kiddush club. As an active and supportive member of the kiddush club, it took my every last thread of willpower and communal devotion to renounce my membership, and join the rabbi on his crusade.

He succeeded in eliminating what had essentially become the most popular weekly smorgasbord in Brooklyn. you can imagine: we served everything and kiddush usually began before laining and lasted until Aleynu. I loved every minute of it but gave it all up.

There was one small group of holdouts. They personally approached the Rabbi to plead with him to allow them tohave their own little kiddush club.

The asshole (yes, the rabbi I still personally like), trying to be Rabbi Cool, caved. Fucker! Because of his idiotic misstep, his moronic 'grand gesture,' this group ultimatly metastasized into a larger, more radical group that has ultimately split the shul, caused a freeze in new membership by virtue of the general disinterest of anyone of any substance to desire an affiliation with the sul, and worst of all, destroyed the upwardly mobile reputation I (and others) had worked so hard to craft for the shul.

I would love going down for a few drinks. And I would love hanging out with the guys every Shabbos morning. But this, much like annonymous sex, may be lots of fun. But that doesn't make it right.

January 30, 2005 11:57 PM  
Blogger Air Time said...

Our Kiddush Club is not quite as extensive as the one you are describing. It begins after Torah reading, before haftorah, and generally we try to finish before the rabbi makes his Mishaberachs for israel and everyone else.

All told, it is probably about 15 minutes long, and is one of the few times in shul where the old guys and the thirtysomethings can socialize.

January 31, 2005 1:14 AM  
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