Author Topic: A Warning on Fake Rabbis  (Read 11877 times)

Offline educatedindian

  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 4756
A Warning on Fake Rabbis
« on: September 16, 2007, 02:07:22 pm »
I didn't realize the problem was in this faith too. The main Jewish denominations have their own warning at the bottom of the article.


Rabbis for hire
Sunday, September 9, 2007 12:04 AM CDT
AP Religion Writer

Rabbi Barry Tuchman has no congregation, no ties to a recognized Jewish movement and an ordination that was far outside the norm for American Jewish clergy.

But the interfaith couples who contact him don't want to see his diploma. They want to know whether he's willing to marry them. And Rabbi Barry, as he calls himself, is ready to oblige.

He officiates anywhere: in churches, alongside Christian clergy, on the Jewish Sabbath and at Roman Catholic weddings. A student of Shamanism, he can perform American Indian rituals, too.

"What I do," Tuchman said, "is throw the liturgy out the window."

Interfaith couples whose rabbis won't marry them are going to the fringes of American Judaism to find someone who will. And there are plenty of rabbis for hire.

Rabbis with unconventional, even dubious, credentials will create ceremonies that can look Jewish, even if they're not. Fees can run into the thousands of dollars, but business is booming. The rabbis have more work than they can handle.

"It's religion in America for a new generation," said Rabbi Richard Hirsh, executive director of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, which represents rabbis in his movement. "It's pretty much an individual consumer culture of professional services. They are used to getting the services that they want."

The intermarriage rate for U.S. Jews has been above 40 percent since at least the 1990s, according to researchers for the 2001 National Jewish Population Survey. As the rate has climbed, so too has pressure on pulpit rabbis to perform the ceremonies. Advocates for interfaith families say officiating at the weddings can increase the odds that couples will raise their children Jewish.

Most rabbis aren't convinced.

The Conservative and Orthodox movements bar rabbis from performing the ceremonies. Even in the Reform and Reconstructionist branches, considered the most welcoming to interfaith families, leaders think most of their rabbis won't marry the couples, either. And those who will officiate often set limits that couples consider deal-breakers: no church weddings or non-Jewish clergy.

"This is really the biggest issue in American Jewish life today," said Rabbi Charles Kroloff, co-chairman of a new Reform movement task force on intermarriage. "Some rabbis feel if they officiate at the interfaith ceremony that's like approving it, so they draw a line in the sand."

Independent rabbis like Tuchman have been crossing that line in a big way.

Rabbi Roger Ross and his wife, the Rev. Deborah Steen Ross, run Loving Hearts Ceremonies in New York. They once performed a Jewish-Christian marriage that included Wiccan prayer, a Celtic apple-dunking, and a few words in Klingon for the groom -- a Star Trek fan.

"It's your wedding," said Ross, who says he has performed several hundred mixed-faith ceremonies. "As long as it's legal and respectful, why shouldn't you have things in it that you want?"

Searching for rabbis online
Jewish groups are trying to help interfaith couples avoid the anxiety and potential risks of searching on the Web to find someone who will marry them., an advocacy and education group based in Newton, Mass., has hired Reform Rabbi Lev Baesh to start a free referral service for mixed-faith couples planning their weddings. Baesh also checks up on couples six months after they marry to see how they're faring.
If couples do end up looking online, Rabbi Richard Hirsh, executive director of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, and others, have some tips:
-- Check whether the clerics belong to a local board of rabbis or recognized rabbinical group, as a test of their credentials.
-- Avoid rabbis who charge exorbitant fees, require full payment in advance, demand cash payment or link their services with commercial businesses.
-- Avoid rabbis who are willing to perform the services under any circumstances for a high price.


  • Guest
Re: A Warning on Fake Rabbis
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2007, 03:04:59 pm »
Yesterday I was invited to a friends for a Holiday visit. Her Mother and Father were in Buldenwald during the Nazi era. This was a topic of discussion, considered a big problem along with the teaching of the Kabalah that has apparently become fashionable among celeberties. Her father is a Rabbi and says much the same as is said here. It doesn't belong out of the culture, takes years and years of study, and none of this is meant to be sold like a commerical business.

Offline debbieredbear

  • Global Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 1462
  • I love YaBB 1G - SP1!
Re: A Warning on Fake Rabbis
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2007, 06:59:06 pm »
I had wondered how Jews felt about that Kabballah craze especially among celebrities. I could see it was out of place away from their religion and culture.


  • Guest
Re: A Warning on Fake Rabbis
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2007, 11:57:10 pm »
we were comparing notes on different exploitations, and that came up. I don't know anything about it as a subject. Had to ask her mother how to spell it, so could look it up later. But from just the little bit that was said it is very old and somewhat "mystical" and really has to be studied in context, it is not just for someone to pick up and run with. I think the inference was that this is something studied by Rabbis, A lot of it was over my head. I have problems keeping up with my own stuff. But the feeling is it is definately being exploited.

Offline Barnaby_McEwan

  • Posts: 861
Re: A Warning on Fake Rabbis
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2007, 09:03:02 am »
I'm wary of the word 'cult' but I think the Kabbalah Centre, like the church of Scientology, is one of those organisations where there is no doubt. Like Scientology they separate devotees from their friends and families in order to control and indoctrinate them better, and pressure wealthy people into making large donations.

A Kabbalah Center 'rabbi' engaged in the most hideously offensive victim-blaming I've ever seen by claiming that if the Jews murdered by the Nazis had used Kabbalah then they would not have died.