I keep hearing my grandfather’s voice in my head: “Oy. This is bad for the Yidden” — this is bad for the Jews. This has been the summer of Jewish communal folly. The heads of two very significant communal institutions — Sol Adler at the 92nd Street Y and Willie Rapfogel at the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty — were fired in the last few week because of serious scandals. Add that to the Claims Conference scandal and what you get makes this Spitzer/Weiner New York hot and blustery summer a terrible one for the Jews. It’s been a man bites dog summer.
"Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive…"
Sir Walter Scott could not have been more right, as my congressman, Anthony Weiner, discovered this past week. The problems inherent in the lewd pictures, incomprehensibly bad judgment, and arrogant assumption of invincibility were only exacerbated ten times over by the untruths that followed. The whole affair is a tawdry mess, and an embarrassment.
No alternate text on picture! - define alternate text in image propertiesIt didn’t take long for the jokes to start making the rounds in response to the latest rabbis-as-(alleged)-crooks scandal. There was the one about the latest Friday-night practical halacha shiur, or class, on “ankle monitors on Shabbat,” and another about the shul charity auction offering a new category: kidneys.
I’m not laughing.
Rather, I’m embarrassed that those who seek to represent the highest levels of piety in our community are increasingly perceived as all too fallible, on the take. Their distinctive garb, a symbol of their commitment to a Higher Authority, and conscious desire to separate themselves from others would seem to make it more difficult for them to transgress in public. But that doesn’t seem to be working lately.