The Jewish Week is reporting that Rabbi Paul Joseph of Temple Emanuel in Lynbrook, L.I. may have been fired from his job for criticizing Israel’s and America’s current direction in a sermon. In the article, the Rabbi is quoted as having said:
“What grieves me as an American and a Jew is that I have been thrust into the conflict of conscience in which the two societies I love and admire more than any others in the world, the United States and the State of Israel, seem to have lost their moral compass and slipped back into more primitive modes of acting. Their ethics have reverted to tribalism and their claims to righteousness when examined closely amount to little more than intra-tribal morality, with one standard to be applied to their own kind and another, lesser standard to those with whom they are in conflict.”
According to the article, people made a big show of being offended, turning their backs on him while he was still speaking, and walking out of the temple. A letter-writing campaign soon followed, which seems to have resulted in his termination.
The temple doesn’t seem to update its site that often, because their website still says Rabbi Joseph is their rabbi and it even hypes his “commitment to social justice.” The incident is kind of reminiscent of the furor over the comments by the Chief Rabbi of Britain’s orthodox community, Jonathan Sacks last year. Is a rabbi supposed to be an spiritual, community and ethical leader who speaks his mind? Or should he simply act like a parrot and stick to only whatever the congregation wants to hear?