“Almost” Chief Rabbis

16 Adar Bet, 5774, Jerusalem

Tragic Flaws. It sounded to me like a classic Greek drama. The other day I had the privilege to make the acquaintance of a sweet older gentleman after davening at a morning minyan. He is an English speaker but is an old-timer, having lived here in Baka for several decades. We got talking about this and that, he he was telling me about Purim in the old days here in the neighborhood.

One Purim (or Simchat Torah?) he said, a certain Sephardi rabbi from the neighborhood was a little drunk. He went over to the Reform minyan which was then meeting at the community center, where he observed women dancing with the Torah. This not finding favor in his eyes, (and being drunk), he went over to one of the women with the Torah and tore it from her hands. Of course the police were called and this rabbi was arrested (a task within the competence of the Jerusalem Police), and headlines said throughout the world, “Orthodox Jews attack Reform Jews on Purim!”  As a result of this incident, my new old friend told me, then Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek decided to give to the Reform minyan the large property where now stands the Reform Synagogue, Kol Neshama, in Baka.

This Rabbi, my friend said, had been once considered for the post of Sephardi Chief Rabbi, but this incident sort of knocked him out of the running.

Then my friend added, that the former rabbi of the shul we were then standing in, had also been considered for the post of Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi. “And he could have made it too, except for…”

I nodded my head. There was no need for him to complete the sentence. I knew quite well that the rabbi in question had been told by his colleagues that he must leave his yeshiva and stop teaching young men, after there were some stories of too close encounters with students.

So there  you have it. Rabbis from Baka could have been rocking the Chief Rabbinate, if not for… certain flaws.

Hey, we all have flaws, myself included.


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