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Mama Deb
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Mama Deb [userpic]
victory for the forces of darkness

My old synagogue has had a regime change, and it's not a good one. We're well out of it.

The old board had a tough minded, independent president. I didn't always like him, and I certainly didn't always agree with him, but he had the best interests of the synagogue at heart. He was never a friend, per se, but he was someone I respected.

At least one of the vice presidents was extremely outspoken - often too much - but he also thought independently and about the synagogue. He and his family have donated much time and money to the synagogue and did so because they believed it was something important. And, yes, he is a friend of mine.

Another board member took it upon himself to run the membership committee - a man who isn't actually religious, but since the person he loves loves this synagogue, he is prepared to work to make it the best it can be, because he was raised to be active in whatever organization he joins. And he's been a mainstay ever since. And then there is the person he loves, a past president who still keeps the welfare of this synagogue in his heart. (It's a unique place.)

Now. The president is no longer president and he's only on the board because he was president. The vice-president is now off the board entirely, and his wife did not make it on. The member who joined for love is also off.

Who has taken their places? A man I like a great deal - I used to teach his wife - but who has absolutely no views at all is the president. The vice-president has been replaced by a woman who, when she was elected secretary over Jonathan, never went to meetings, so that Jonathan still took the minutes, and when he wasn't there, I did. And she's basically a mouthpiece for the rebbitzen, who is now on the board anyway.

And that's the problem. What had been independent minded people are now people who echo only what the rabbi wants. Because of this, he now has a lifetime contract, which makes him unaccountable to anyone. Now, Jonathan, who has never gotten along with this rabbi, had pushed for a ten-year contract at a time when the rabbi had a shorter term one, but lifetime is something else. But we're not there any more, and we have our own president problems at our new synagogue.

At least my current rabbi has enough power - he's the dean of a college. :)

It's just that, with the board in his pocket and a lifetime contract, they've given what is essentially an employee far too much control,and I now question the purpose of having a board at all.


do you know any cool young couples like yourselves who would be interested in starting a new frum community in baltimore????

We're not a young couple, you know. I'm forty, my husband is only a couple years younger and we're pretty well set in in Brooklyn. We've done the "start a new community" thing, and now we're happy in a more established place. And most of our friends are in the same position - those who don't have kids in school.

Sorry, sweetie.

:( i would love to live near cool people!!! :(

thats one reason we're leaving...that and cheap housing. its 3 miles away from frummy land. its just so depressing talking to ppl about it... they're like "oh but shvartzehs live there!" i want to beat them. pompous bigots :(

I moved *to* frummyland. I got tired of going miles out of my way to get kosher meat and cheese, and of not being able to go to mikveh on Friday nights if I had to.

If I were worried about what the people around me thought,I'd go nuts. So long as I adhere to halacha, I don't really care what anyone else thinks.

yeah, the friday night thing is sucky. We live almost 3 miles from the closest mikveh, and that's just too far for me to walk alone in the dark.

Given that three of my last four trips were on erev Shabbat (one was also erev yomtov - and we had a dinner invitation! - thank goodness for hats), it was a relief to be able to *walk*.

It's such a different experience, too. Everyone arrives at about the same time, everyone is wearing Shabbat clothes or robes, you've already done everything and the mikveh lady doesn't ask any questions, and when you dunk, they don't give you a washcloth to cover your head. And, of course, there's all the fun of walking home with wet hair.

I was rather happy that the last time was a weeknight. :)

Yeah, I thought, "what's the big deal...what are the odds that it's ever even going to come up anyway?" Hah. I'm so irregular that I haven't had to go that many times since I've gotten married, but last time was a Friday night... :(

no washcloth to cover your head on Friday night? Why? Am I missing something?

If you really want it, they'll give one to you, but there's a real possibility it might fall in the water and then someone might squeeze it, which is assur on Shabbat. The common practice is to hold your hand over your head - since technically speaking, you don't need to do anything.

I spent years waiting an extra day or two to drive to Crown Heights - my nearest mikveh.

Interesting. I had always just assumed that the mikvah was closed on Friday nights and you just had to wait.

Can you use a towel to dry yourself off, or do you just have to stand around until you air-dry? And can you comb wet hair to keep it from tangling? (By "can", I mean per halacha.)

You can use a towel, but only pat, not rub. Or so I was told.

And no, you can't comb - which for those of us with long hair is a problem. It also means you have to take care to keep it from tangling between candlelighting and dunking.

The only nights you can't go to the mikveh are erev Yom Kippur and erev Tisha B'Av, which are the only nights of the year that sex is forbidden. In fact, as having sex is a mitzvah both on lail mikveh and lail shabbat, it only makes sense it's open. And I give a lot of honor to the mikveh ladies who give up part of their Shabboses to help other women.

I'm sorry that you are having issues with the board of your old shul. My parents' shul just fired their rabbi (well, they didn't renew his contract). I know there were people who were unhappy with him, but I liked him wonder exactly who the board thinks they will replace him with.

OT - I am trying to write a response to many comments I've seen to R' Boteach's letter to Britney Spears (saying he's nuts, he's wrong for trying to keep his daughters in a single sex school etc.). Can I email you a rough copy - you tell me if it sounds ok? I don't want to cause more problems...

I haven't seen any of that stuff. Could you link me to where it's going on?

Not that I think terribly much of either R'Boteach or Britney, but it sounds interesting. :)

The post I saw was this (http://www.livejournal.com/users/giogio/307896.html) from giogio's journal. I don't have a problem with people who disagree w/ me because of my beliefs, but I DO have a problem when people completely disregard someone else's beliefs as wrong just because they don't understand it. I am also not sure if I want to reply in that journal entry or write an entry myself...

It's amazing how judgemental people can be, isn't it?

I find myself agreeing with R'Boteach here in pretty much everything. But then, I've never thought she had much talent - she can dance and she can sing with a lot of backup. (I'm a much bigger fan of Christina, who has a lovely voice and a mind behind all the makeup and piercings. She just has to realize it.)

I would like to see what you said.

I'm also giggling over calling R'Boteach conservative, which he isn't in any sense of the word. :)

I'm emailing you my comments.

I work for the treasurer, who is squarely in the rabbi's camp.

Of course, in all the years I attended, I never saw her actually attend Shabbat services but I do know she keeps kosher and the Sabbath. She's also amazingly small-c conservative and Republican. The only politics I talk about with her is Israeli. :)

The president is no longer president and he's only on the board because he was president.
Not really; he's still on the board because he also ran for an at-large position, and enough people voted for him in that capacity that he got in (he got about 40 more votes for ordinary board member than he got for president, so about 1/3 of the membership wanted him not to be president any more but to stay on the board). The by-laws do say that past presidents are all automatically on the board, but that clause has been ignored for years, and I'm not sure it's practical to insist on it now.

Other valuable speople are also off the board. A young professional woman, who provided a perspective that was sorely lacking before. A member of a family that has been a major donor to the shul. Oh, and I'm off the board too. The new board can be seen at the shul's web page, which I still run.

I know. You're gone. Most of the people who put the synagogue as a whole first instead of the rabbi's are gone.

And I really don't think the rebbitzen belongs there at all. Complete conflict of interest.

But I'm not a member of that shul anymore.

forces of darkness

It is upsetting to see that a man that I had so much respect for ( Rav)stoop to vicious and low down politics.

I have always believed that the job of Rav goes beyond spiritual leader. He has destroyed the unity of a wonderful shul.