Speaking of the New York Times, they had an interesting story about the new rabbi who took a three hour bus ride to the town of Greenport, NY to interview for a position leading the town’s only congregation. Now the congregation wants him gone but he has decided to open another synagogue not too far away…

Apparently, the problem with our dear rabbi Moskowitz is that he was too aggressive in his desire to bring the congregation to life. Uh, it seems it was kind of dead:

“We’ve been dead in the water,” said Stanley Rubin, 79, a longtime member who is one of the rabbi’s supporters. “They were very content to go along the old-fashioned way. As one of the board members told me, ‘We’ve been doing things the same way for 101 years, and there’s no reason to change things now.’ “


“We might as well just close it up,” Mr. Langhauser, 62, said of Congregation Tifereth Israel. “It’s a mausoleum. It’s time to try something different.”

Okay. So Rabbi Moskowitz thought he could bring the cadaver to life. First, he moved the furniture around in his residence. Apparently, he got scolded by the powers that be for doing this. OUCH! Then, they rejected his ideas to set up a community center for children of members (OUCH!); were averse to showing movies at the synagogue (OUCHY OUCH!!!); and refused to promote the synagogue by using media produced by local real estate agents (DOWNRIGHT MORONICALLY OUCHILICIOUS!).

So they did what any self respecting group of old Jews would do, they voted not to renew his contract and without telling him, changed the locks on the synagogue doors (and presumably his house doors). I’m not sure why they didn’t just ask him to leave nicely, but why ask when you can pay the locksmith to do the telling for you.

Anyway, the Rabbi is now opening a new synagogue in this little town with barely enough Jews to keep one synagogue afloat. He hopes to attract some families from his previous synagogue, but he is counting on some unaffilated and reform Jews, young families, and, of course, gays, to join his new congregation. In other words, he now feels deep sympathy for those who may not have found a place in the “traditional” house of prayer…

Hopefully, at his new synagogue he’ll be able to implement some of the ideas he had at Tiffereth Israel. Some of these ideas include a Jewish youth center, kosher catering, publicity in Jewish newspapers…and Sephardic cooking classes.

Let’s wish both congregations luck…

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  • I think he means that if they are still breathing and have any affiliation with Judaism, he’ll take them.

    He does seem to be a devout and observant Jew himself.

  • Without sounding redundant,

    if a community is dying away, or shrinking, shouldn’t more effort be placed in strengthening existing ones with a chance to survive, or move to Israel (preferred)?

  • I dunno, Josh. People live in that town. What are they supposed to do? Stop worshipping? Make aliyah at 79? They simply wanted a rabbi…and he wanted to bring more people into the fold to revitalize their community.

    This makes ample sense. If rabbis throughout the country attempted exciting types of outreach, you might end up with more people who are drawn to join synagogues and join the active Jewish community instead of sitting on the sidelines. In my mind, this is exactly how to get the ball rolling. Besides, as long as you’ve got enough for a minyan, what’s wrong with going for growth?

  • I know people in that community (Phil Goldman is a mensch!!!)

    First, you have to understand that most of the people who live year round in Greenport are retirees (local hospital shut down the maternity ward for lack of customers). The shul is supported by retirees and vacationers.

    Also, there’s a new Reform synogouge 10 miles away (next closest shul is 30 miles away in Riverhead) which has been drawing off the less observant crowd.

    Read that article again. The people from the shul were being as civil and polite and saying as little Lashon Hara as possible–they could have told stories, but instead all they said was that they couldn’t afford all of the rabbis ideas. The rabbi and his friends were the ones making the accusations.

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