Politics On The Pulpit: Is There A Line And Where Do You Draw it?

Last evening I participated on a panel at the American Jewish University with moderator Rabbi Elliot Dorff and with fellow panelists Rabbi Sharon Brous and Rabb Elazar Muskin in a conversation between rabbis of different religious streams (Reform, Conservative/non-denominational, and Orthodox) that, if not checked, can tear apart the fabric of the American Jewish community.

The three of us panelists represent similar and dissimilar approaches to what we believe is appropriate for rabbis to discuss on the bima and within the synagogue setting. We didn’t always agree – in truth, at times we disagreed substantially.

We represent progressive and right-wing orthodox approaches to the role of the rabbi in speaking about all the great moral, ethical, political, and partisan issues facing American Jewry, and we covered a great deal of ground with passion, intelligence, nuance, and loving-kindness towards each other.

Our conversation is exactly what is needed in the American Jewish community today – civility, respect, and being able to disagree without becoming disagreeable.

The crowd of 300 people (and streamed live – link below) appreciated the spirit with which we each presented ourselves and interacted with each other. It was a proud evening for the American Jewish community.

The event was presented by Jews United for Democracy and Justice, Community Advocates, Inc. and the American Jewish University’s Whizen Center. It was co-hosted by the Jewish Center for Justice, Valley Beth Shalom, Temple Israel of Hollywood, Leo Baeck Temple, and Congregation Ikar. Rabbi Brous is the Rabbi of Ikar. Rabbi Muskin is the Rabbi of Young Judea of Century City. I am the Senior Rabbi of Temple Israel of Hollywood.

The entire conversation can be viewed at https://www.facebook.com/search/?q=whizin%20center&searchtype=posts&epa=SERP_TAB

About the Author
A native of Los Angeles, Rabbi John L. Rosove assumed the position of Senior Rabbi of Temple Israel of Hollywood in 1988 and will become Emeritus Rabbi in July, 2019. Before coming to Temple Israel he served large congregations in San Francisco (1979-86) and Washington, D.C. (1986-88). He is the immediate past National Chair of the Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA) and served on the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), the Vaad HaPoel of the World Zionist Organization, and the Executive Committee of ARZENU (the International Reform Zionist movement). He is a national co-Chair of the Rabbinic and Cantorial Cabinet of J Street. John is the author of "Why Judaism Matters – Letters of a Liberal Rabbi to his Children and the Millennial Generation with an Afterword by Daniel and David Rosove" (Nashville: Jewish Lights, 2017) and his forth-coming book "Why Israel and its Future Matter - Letters of a Liberal Rabbi to his Children and the Millennial Generation" (Ben Yehuda Press, New Jersey. Spring 2020). John is married to Barbara and is the father of two sons and the grandfather of one.
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