Following the example of Rabbi Abraham L. Feinberg, who resigned recently from the rabbinate because he regards the American synagogue as devoid of idealism, Rabbi Mitchell Salem Fisher, Acting Rabbi of Congregation Rodeph Sholom in New York, in a letter to Ernest J. Wile, president of the Congregation, announces that when his term with Rodeph Sholom is completed he will no longer continue in the active rabbinate. In his letter Rabbi Fisher declares that the ideals of the synagogue are removed from the real issues of everyday living and that the office of rabbi has now become synonymous with that of “an exalted lecturer, entertainer and institution promotion agent.”
“No sincere student of the American Jewish scene can fail to realize the tragedy now eventuating,” declares Rabbi Fisher. “Preachers enunciate ideals, but these must remain so indefinite, so unpointed, so unchallenging, so completely removed from the real issues of everyday living and struggling that these ideals become patently and utterly vain.
“The rabbi becomes an exalted lecturer, entertainer and institution promotion agent. My colleagues may loudly protest and will boldly assert upon learning of this letter that they are free. They may even think so. The fact remains that with very, very few exceptions none of them is the possessor of effective freedom. And those few who have won their fight to such freedom usually have done so outside of the conventional paths of rabbinical success.”
Commenting on Rabbi Fisher’s withdrawal, the current issue of the “American Hebrew” says:
“Rabbi Fisher is not the first man to be disillusioned nor will he be the last. What disturbs us is that an intellectual, upstanding young Rabbi of great promise, after ministering to two congregations finds ‘a dreadful contrast between what the synagogue should be and can be and what the synagogue is’. If the modern synagogue shackles a Rabbi’s idealism so that the ideals he preaches become patently and utterly vain our lay leaders ought to know it and ascertain the reasons why.”