As a committed Conservative Jew who believes passionately in its ideology of egalitarianism and inclusion, I take no satisfaction in watching some of my modern Orthodox friends’ rabbis seemingly being dismissed by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel as unacceptable arbiters of the halachic status, in effect challenging their authenticity as rabbinic leaders (“Who Is A Rabbi?”, July 14). Members of both the Conservative and Reform movements are unfortunately too familiar with such treatment and lack of respect by the Chief Rabbinate.
But in observing the reluctance of most Modern and centrist Orthodox professional and lay leaders to protest these decisions because of fear that they will also be dealt with in s similar manner, I am reminded of the famous quote of Pastor Martin Niemoller about the cowardice of German intellectuals during the Nazis’ rise to power: “First they came for the Socialists and I did not speak out ….”
I am not suggesting any comparison with the Shoah. But I am suggesting that when no one protests injustice, complacency is ill-advised since one may eventually find himself the victim of that same injustice. The theme of the repercussions of fear and a prevailing concern only of self-interest in the face of injustice is as relevant today as it ever was.
Hugh Pollack is president of Camp Ramah in the Berkshires and past president of Town & Village Synagogue in Manhattan.