July 24, 2008

Reasons Why I Am Not a Pulpit Rabbi

To clarify, I am not a rabbi. Some of my friends call me rabbi and some call me a lot worse. ;) But it is true that at times I have considered becoming one. One doesn't have to have a pulpit to become a rabbi, but that is neither here nor there.

I suppose that I should provide some background for what prompted this post. I have many friends/relatives who are rabbis and have watched and or spoken with them about their experiences.

Not one of them has ever tried to dissuade me from joining the rabbinate. Come to think of it, they haven't really tried to encourage me to enlist either.

Anyway, there are a few primary issues that keep me from seriously considering this as a profession.

1) Politics, or should I say shul politics.

I hate playing the game. I don't want to be in a position in which I live in a goldfish bowl and have to worry about what people think.

Example #1:

Several years ago I went over to a dear friend's house to help build his Sukkah. It is quite pleasant to work with music playing in the background. We had to be cautious about what we played because the community likes to talk and it could get him in trouble.

Mind you, this was not gangster rap. It didn't really fall into salacious or prurient. It was a mix of classic rock. But he was afraid that members of the community would take issue with his choice, that secular music would cause problems.

Example #2

A different friend of mine ran into problems in his shul because one of the prominent members felt that he had been snubbed by my friend. It wasn't real clear what or how it happened, just that it had and that the macher was upset.

These sorts of things would make me crazy. The minutiae of my life is irritating enough without having a million congregants pick it apart. And not being able to speak my mind would irk me. I suppose that telling a congregant that his name should have been Korach isn't nice, but...

On a side note my son recently asked me to name some of the jobs I have had and I had to restrain myself from getting too creative. But he is only going to be a little boy for a short while so I did tease him a bit.

I told him that I used to work as the hole maker at a Bagel and Donut factory and as a Cookie Cutter.

If I have more time I'll come back and tell you more about that later.


Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

At least rabbis choose the career — imagine being a rabbi's spouse and having to deal with all of that!

fvclassic said...

shul politics - to me is the antithesis of what shul is supposed to be ... absent of that.. .a place where one can experience perhaps even a brief respite from everyday politico that we are surrounded with

what say you?
gp in montana

chaviva said...

Shul politics are what I loathe about going to shul. You can see in the rabbi's eyes that he's spent all day dealing with some committee and doesn't want to be there. It's also why it's second on my list of reasons when people ask me if I intend on going to rabbinical school (because Judaic studies means rabbi school, right).


Jack said...


Yo ho ho ho, a Rebbetzin's life for me. ;)


It should be a refuge, but people being people don't always cooperate.


Can't get away from the politics, but you can find shul's where they are less prevalent.