Culture, Religion

The Charismatic Leader

The current issue of Shma: A Journal of Jewish Social Responsibility is all about charismatic leadership–a crucial issue with which the Jewish community hasn’t yet begun to grapple in any sort of substantive way.

. When we support a charismatic teacher in the belief that he alone is needed to be a teacher of Torah, we support the very hubris that allowed that teacher to confuse himself for the object of love. Only by abdicating his role can the charismatic rabbi who has violated sexual boundaries begin the work of teshuvah. The rabbi’s professional history must remain transparent in future employment searches, and he must do work where his history has little potential to have traumatizing effects. There is good work that rabbis can do without the title rabbi. Just as an alcoholic should forever avoid strong drink, it is precisely because the rabbinate and teaching are erotic businesses that healing from abusive behavior is signaled by leaving the profession — humbly and for good.
–Lori Hope Lefkowitz

Some of its content is online, but it’s worth tracking down a copy of the print journal to see the whole issue. Link here.

One thought on “The Charismatic Leader

  1. Woe to us if we focus on sexual misbehavior as the primary problem with charismatic rabis. There are far more of this type doing far more damage just by encouraging people to adhere to the model of ‘follower’ as a mindset replacing critical thinking, independence and autonomy. Not to mention the damage that adulation does to its object.

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