As a member of Congregation B’nai Jeshurun — and one who does not always agree with our rabbis — I read with astonishment Anita Altman’s invitation to leave the shul because of that occasional disagreement (“Support for BJ Rabbis,” Letters, March 7).
There is a word for a religious community whose members think of their leaders as prophets even though the age of prophecy is long gone.
That word is cult.
BJ is not a cult.
Our rabbis are smart, charismatic, creative, committed, and Jewishly well educated. I respect them, and trust their understanding of Jewish law, lore, and history. They are not political scientists or philosophers, however, and I would not consider allowing their view of domestic or world affairs to replace my own. Being part of a community does not mean giving up your own brain.
My rabbis’ view of Israel can be infuriatingly and clearly willfully naïve. Two of them recently made statements about AIPAC that were broadly incorrect and unnecessarily divisive, and they did great damage to a community not quite recovered from the last set of similar and perhaps even more egregious errors.
But their love for Israel is undeniable, even if their means of expressing it is unfortunate. The community is strong. We will not be divided by our rabbis’ excesses because they, like we, are human.
Sorry, Ms. Altman. We stay.