Rabbis Should Confront Social Issues


Andrew Silow-Carroll’s Oct. 11 column, “And Now, A Few Words Against Civility,” hit home and was extremely meaningful. He stated, “Rabbis are told that politics has no place in the pulpit. But if they ignore the headlines, they signal that Judaism has nothing to say about the most important issues of the day.”

Issues such as developing a sane immigration policy, confronting climate change, the homeless, poverty, deliberate voter suppression, protecting Kurds, Islamophobia, gay rights, bail and private prison injustice, etc. must be dealt with. Failure to do so, and sadly many of our leaders are failing in this regard, makes me (and I’m sure many others) wonder exactly just how we are agents for tikkun olam — repairing the world.

We’re not complete Jews without heavy doses of both tefillot and the performance of Hashem’s chesed. Rabbis who stick with pareve d’var Torahs and sermons may live in the comfort zone, but are losing Jews who believe in Jewish social action. As some of our religious leaders generically talk about Avraham welcoming the stranger, about always leaving fallen sheaves of grain for the poor, and about not removing a baby bird from the mother’s nest, failing to link these concepts to contemporary social problems leaves a great void.

Great leaders have always taken risks. We need rabbis who can come out of their comfort zone and continue in that great tradition of our sages. As Mr. Silow-Carroll wrote in a previous column, “If Torah doesn’t help us create a better society or battle widespread, systematic injustice, then what’s the point?”

Past President

Northeast Queens Jewish Community Council

West Hempstead, L.I.