A Pilot Plan for Reorganizing the Rabbinate

Now that Modiin has no Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi, we have an opportunity. Instead of searching for a new Ashkenazic rabbi (in addition to the two Sephardic rabbis we still have, and because such searches are always political in nature and do not always take into consideration the needs of the city’s residents), I propose that the money for the Ashkenazic rabbi’s salary (c. 40,000 NIS per month!) be used to subsidize and encourage the hiring of community rabbis in Modiin.

It would work like this:  synagogue communities that have rabbis under employ will be eligible for a subsidy under the following conditions:

a.       These rabbis will be accessible to members of the broader community, particularly in their neighborhoods;

b.       No subsidy will exceed half of the salary that the rabbi already gets from his community;

c.        No community will be subsidized for more than 5,000 NIS per month.

d.       The rabbis of all synagogue communities – Chabad, Conservative, Masorti, Orthodox, Reform – will be eligible to apply for the subsidy.

As Anglos, we appreciate the value of cohesive communities with strong religious leadership. We know that the best way to build a rabbinate is not through political appointments from the top down, but by building supportive communities from the grassroots up. We know that eliminating the positions at the top and promoting communities as the basic building blocks of our civic society is the way to build a strong city, and ultimately a strong nation.

Municipal elections are coming up. Let’s put this issue on the agenda. Let’s make Modiin the site of a pilot program that every city in the country will want to emulate.

About the Author
Elli Fischer is a writer and translator from Baltimore and living in Modiin. His articles have appeared in Commentary, the Jewish Review of Books, the New York Jewish Week, Jewish Ideas Daily, Jewish Action, Jerusalem Post, the Intermountain Jewish News, and elsewhere, and been featured on Arts & Letters Daily and RealClearReligion, among others. He has rabbinical ordination from the Israeli Chief Rabbinate and enjoys having ADD.