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Looking for a new God

Imagine a job opening for the position of Deity for the Children of Israel

This being the month of Ellul, when Jews are supposed to begin taking stock of their relationships and accounting for their behavior, the following memo was sent to select non-profit executives. In the interest of the public good and for general transparency, I am sharing it now with you:

To: Board of Directors, Children of Israel

From: Personnel Committee

RE: Adonai’s Job Performance and Contract

Every organization needs to take stock of its chief executive officer’s performance on a regular basis. We, however, have been rather lax in evaluating ours. After conducting extensive interviews with a random sampling of the membership, we are prepared to make the following recommendations concerning our Chief Executive to you for your consideration and, hopefully, your approval.

  1. Despite an open-ended contract and outstanding work in the initial years, Adonai has allowed his performance to slide in subsequent millennia. This has shown itself in several crucial contractual areas:
  • failure to perform core functions other than maintaining the natural order
  • failure to respond to requests for service from the membership
  • failure to prevent the rise of competing deities and faiths
  • failure to prevent repeated attempts by adherents of said competing deities to massacre segments of the membership
  • failure to communicate with either the board or the membership to account for any the above.
  1. With this job performance in mind, it is our recommendation that we terminate our existing contract with Adonai and seek a new candidate for the position, one who will bring a fresh vision and new energy to the job.
  1. Below is a job description for the deity based on the existing position and also on our recent interviews. Although it makes sense to post the job vacancy and interview candidates for this position, we have serious doubts about the ability of any one candidate to succeed in this job. Indeed, one could make the case that this is a job for multiple deities—but we won’t go down that road! At the same time, it is clear to us that any candidate in this position will be bound to fail, just as surely as the current deity has, because of the competing demands and complexities of the current job description. Although it scarcely needs repeating, nonetheless it is often forgotten: no deity can be completely perfect. One can’t please all of the people all of the time!
  1. This brings us to our final and most radical recommendation: completely revise the job description. A radical revision of the job description would bring in a totally different sort of candidate and could take us in totally new and exciting directions.

A higher-performing deity articulating a dynamic new message would inspire our members, bring about the return of many lapsed members, and attract many non-members as well. These are the benefits of revising the job description and opening the search for a new deity.

The risks with this idea, however, are twofold: First, we have no way of knowing for certain whether a candidate’s new direction would be better or worse for our membership in the long-run, or whether any candidate can, in fact, deliver on a proposed vision. We all know from bitter experience that it is one thing to make a promise; it is quite another thing to fulfill it. Second, given the longstanding attachment to the current deity and given expectations regarding what a deity is supposed to do, to change both the job description and deities might result in a substantial loss of members—even among those who are obviously dissatisfied with the performance of the current holder of the position.

Clearly to take this step would require much deliberation on our part. Perhaps it is best left until we have our next Board retreat (at Sinai, over the Shavuot holiday) when we can consider a revision of the deity’s job description within the context of our overall long-term strategic plan. We leave this decision in your hands.

Should you choose to remain with a job description based on current expectations, we recommend the following posting for the position of Deity for the Children of Israel:

The ideal candidate for the position of Deity will:

  1. Display the ability to manage large projects, overseeing multiple systems, both natural and historical.
  2. Pay keen attention to the smallest of details and handle multiple requests for service simultaneously.
  3. Empower the membership with a sense of personal and collective responsibility and be able to incorporate their actions into the overall plan, as noted in #1 and #2 above.
  4. Be accessible 24/7 to hear the comments of members and, to the highest degree possible, respond positively to their requests.
  5. As time allows, be equally concerned about and active with other peoples and faiths.
  6. Meet and greet members at the point of death, assisting them with an evaluation of their lives, and assigning them an appropriate resting place in the hereafter.
  7. Articulate a compelling vision and mission both for the membership and other peoples, one that propels them towards a stated beneficent end by offering various positive and negative incentives.
  8. Communicate clearly and authoritatively through established channels with the authorized leadership of the membership and, to a lesser degree, with the leadership of other peoples and faiths, so that everyone knows where things stand.

The ideal candidate for the position of Deity will have the following qualities:

  1. Omnipotence
  2. Omniscience
  3. Omnipresence
  4. Absolutely Just
  5. Completely Fair
  6. Totally Truthful
  7. All Merciful
  8. Gracious
  9. Loving
  10. Long-suffering
  11. Compassionate
  12. Forgiving
  13. A good listener
  14. Articulate
  15. Responsive

The Children of Israel is an EOE. Minority and female deities are encouraged to apply.

To Apply: Send résumé and cover letter to the address or email on this letterhead.


About the Author
Rabbi Anson Laytner of Seattle is currently president of the Sino-Judaic Institute and longtime editor of its journal Points East. He is the co-editor, with Jordan Paper, of "The Chinese Jews of Kaifeng." Before retiring, he taught at Seattle University and worked with the American Jewish Committee and the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle. His most recent book is "The Mystery of Suffering and the Meaning of God."
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