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

About the Author
John L. Rosove is Senior Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Israel of Hollywood in Los Angeles. He is a national co-Chair of the Rabbinic and Cantorial Cabinet of J Street and immediate past National Chairman of the Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA). He serves as a member of the newly created Union for Reform Judaism's Israel and Reform Zionism Committee (IRZC). John was the 2002 Recipient of the World Union for Progressive Judaism International Humanitarian Award and has received special commendation from the State of Israel Bonds. In 2013 he was honored by J Street at its Fifth Anniversary Celebration in Los Angeles. John is the author of two books - “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 Publishing, a division of Turner Publishing Company, 2017) and "Why Israel [and its Future] Matters - Letters of a Liberal Rabbi to his Children and the Millennial Generation with an Afterword by Daniel and David Rosove" (New Jersey: Ben Yehuda Press, 2019). Both are available at John translated and edited the Hebrew biography of his Great Granduncle – "Avraham Shapira – Veteran of the Haganah and Hebrew Guard" by Getzel Kressel (publ. by the Municipality of Petach Tikvah, 1955). The translation was privately published (2021). John is married to Barbara. They are the parents of two sons - Daniel (married to Marina) and David. He has two grandchildren.