(from the ‘Aliyah Manifesto’ Jobs excerpts)
Acting as a rabbi was very meaningful. I was a community figure. People looked up to me. They even called me rabbi. They needed somebody to blame for their lack of moral fortitude and forced three hours of Hebrew day school every week during their childhood. I had to pretend like I was an upstanding citizen and carer of people. I had to pretend that this world could make sense, and I was going to help you find that meaning. I had to pretend that I knew something.
They respected me and even talked about me when I did anything they did. I was important.
I hadn’t found any meaning myself. But a rabbi, like a good parent, lies. We have to make you feel like it is all going to be good. We do that, and people feel great. We bring joy to peoples’ non-pathetic lives and give them meaning. And they hold onto that meaning, until they lose their job, get a bad grade in school, or meet somebody they are attracted to.
I could have used the Torah to bring meaning to peoples’ lives. But that would be the easy way out and quite overdone by all rabbis. Hack, if I may say. Everybody already has one of those rabbis.
As a rabbi in Israel, I couldn’t bring that same joy. They watch the news, they know what is going on, and they learn Torah. I don’t have that meaning of external dependence anymore. Now, I have to try to bring that meaning to myself, from inside. I have to look at my own life, and lie to myself. It is a lot harder. As a rabbi, all that holy energy channels somehow. You have a position which forces meaning into your life. You are an important person, who represents your tradition and brings Torah to peoples’ lives, and it is beautiful. So, I got away from that profession.
I took up comedy because I couldn’t be honest enough, as a rabbi. I wanted to tell people to get a grip and to stop complaining. I wanted to tell them that they should blame themselves. I wanted to tell them that Gd might forgive you, but you still have to pay James the money you owe him. But no spiritual being wants to hear that. Debt is the reason Frank became religious.
Smicha/rabbinic ordination, was a real process. It helped shape who I am. As with all education and everything I have learned, I forgot it. I am not making any money off it. I made Aliyah and I work in comedy.
I have a masters in social work and rabbinic ordination. This book, with grammatical mistakes, cost my parents 150,000 dollars. My dad is not happy about it either. He also does not find it funny.
What I learned from being a rabbi and social worker? I do not like dealing with people’s complaints, unless there is money involved. That is the difference between a rabbi and a priest. A rabbi won’t take confession, for anything less than $50. We know how much Jewish people like to complain. Coupled with free, that is a hard job.
As I learned, people like to complain about everything. And rabbis do have offices. I had a couple sitting in front of me. It was a boyfriend and girlfriend. I was working with college students, not people with anything meaningful going on in their lives. I did have to deal with this guy complaining about the movie they saw last night. ‘She doesn’t like going to horror flicks and I wanted to go…Wha Wha Wha…’ I said it and my rabbinical career was over. ‘Shut up, you whiny little…at least you have a girlfriend…I am going to movies by myself.’
Once they heard I go to movies and do stuff that they do, they lost all respect for me. Word got out that the rabbi likes movies and women, and it was over. No Christians wanted to come to my programs, and there was no attendance at the Hillel events anymore.
Rabbis can have girlfriends and even get married. That is another difference between a rabbi and a priest. A priest can’t have a girlfriend. A rabbi can have a girlfriend, he just can’t touch her. This is why it is always better to confess to a priest. As they do not have a woman in their life, there is no chance that everybody in the community will hear about your problems and iniquities.
I would not confess to an imam right now. I do not know much about the Muslim community’s traditions regarding confession, but after what I have seen with Iran, Iraq and Syria, I want to know first. Oh. I said it. Bring on the angry-I-am-offended mail.
From What I learned about myself, whatever I do, there has to be meaning to it. There has to be a purpose. For that reason, it is important to make a lot of money. Making money gives purpose to everything. If there is enough money involved, you can do really negative stuff to the world, like start wars.
In my comedy, there has to have a purpose to it. At least to me, it is important to be self righteous. At least now I complain and make money from it. And people have to listen to me, and they cannot talk. That is the beauty of being a comedian, it is a win-win. I get the benefit of being the rabbi and the congregant.
-Get a job as a social-mental service provider and/or spiritual adviser. Life is much better when you focus on other people’s problems.
-If you have complaints, go to clergy. Social workers charge.
-Being a rabbi is a meaningful career choice. Even learning Torah and studying the Jewish laws is meaningful. Although I do not work as a rabbi today, I still get that same feeling when I see the Hebrew letters of the Torah, that I do not understand it.