‘erosion’ of Rabbinate Deplored

Rabbi Abraham B. Hecht, president of the Rabbinical Alliance of America, told the annual convention of the Orthodox rabbinical group here last week that there has been “a gradual and ultimately devastating erosion in the importance of the Orthodox rabbinate.”

Rabbi Hecht, who was elected to a third term as president, attributed the development to two factors: “First, the predominant preference among rabbinic students to reject the pulpit following their ordination; and second, the tendency among yeshiva alumni to chose ‘stibloch’ and yeshiva services rather than join established synagogues.” He said the first development had resulted in “a dearth of qualified Orthodox rabbis” and that the second had” deprived once vibrant congregations of a well-informed and scholarly laity.”

The Orthodox rabbis approved resolutions urging rabbinic candidates to “re-examine the rabbinate as a viable vocation” and urging non-rabbinic yeshiva graduates “to bolster their neighborhood synagogues.”

Rabbi Hecht said there had been an erosion process underway in the American Jewish community and attributed it to the “almost total emphasis” on Israel during the past decade. He said “American synagogues have been so busy concerning themselves with Israel that they have neglected the needs of the local Jewish community.” He said “the time has come for the synagogue and the rabbi to de-emphasize Israel and re-emphasize the most important Jewish community in the world – our own.”

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