Should Rabbis Be Preaching Politics From The Pulpit?

Have Your Say is your chance to tell us what you think. This week, we asked you whether Rabbis should be preaching politics from the pulpit. Here are some of your answers:

“Rabbis should behave in a Talmudic fashion. Argue every point and then decide what is good for the flock. If the flock bolts all the better.” —Jack Bershtel

“NO NO NO lefty rabbis in both temples here is why I am now templeless.” —Janna Blanter

“Absolutely yes. Rabbis and their congregation are not exempt from the politics around them and they can mobilize their congregants to fight for just causes. Our rabbis have brains and a mouthpiece and should use it whenever necessary. Justice, vigilance and learning are part of our religion. I would not want a quiet passive rabbi at all.” —Sharon Freedman

“If any religious person urges how people vote, okay, but he/she does, the tax exemption should be lost.” —Robert L. Capeci

“Rabbis should not preach politics from the pulpit but instead educate and inspire their congregation about Jewish values, traditions, and texts. By the same token, The Emmys, the Oscars, and the entertainment industry should stick to entertainment. Regardless of political persuasion, entertainers are paid to entertain. It is wholly irrelevant if Roger Waters is pro-BDS and anti-Israel. He alienates his fan base. He has put another brick in the wall. Likewise for athletes that take a knee during the anthem while being under contract for millions of dollars. We as a society have politicized too much of daily life and we all suffer as a result.” –Jeff Grunfeld

“My opinion is, if they are taking current events and tying it to something we can learn from, how to better ourselves then why not? I do NOT however believe that rabbis should instruct people how to vote as is the chassidish custom.” —Ayelet Mira Sror

“Our lives as Jews are tied to politics. Politics can help us or can destroy us. If you do not like your Rabbi’s views you can tell them, argue your alternate view in a respectful manner, or find another synagogue.” — Marla Silovitch Strappe

“Not a simple yes or no. Sometimes politics is appropriate and sometimes it isn’t. David Wolpe wrote a provocative essay in June of this year urging rabbis not to preach politics from the pulpit. In August, he just as provocatively rebuked President Trump for his moral equivocation in the face of the Nazism in Charlottesville. Rabbi Wolpe presumably would say that the rebuke was about morality and not politics.” —Guy Handelman

“Absolutely they should. Politics is civics and vice versa.” —Steven Podvoll

“Not necessarily favoring a political party but what’s the point of a sermon if not to remind us of our obligations to the world unless it’s a purely informative sermon. If reminding us of our obligations is political to some people, so be it. I’m thinking of Judaic imperatives such as welcoming the stranger for we were once strangers in Egypt. Others things such as leaving the corners of our fields for the poor to glean. You know, as I said—our obligations.” —Sandra Braunstein

“I mean, our lives as jews aren’t separate from our lives as citizens of a nation (gentile or otherwise). If the actions of the country or its representatives are antithetical to (or if they directly impact) our lives as Jews, our religious leaders have an obligation to speak on that.” —Spencer Seim

“No You are trapped listening to a sermon. If the rabbi wants to talk politics we should be allowed to argue other points of view.” —Norm Kane

“Depends how you define politics. If societal issues are in conflict with Torah values then he has a duty to speak up.” —Richard G Moss

“Have never heard my rabbi utter a political word. Prefer it that way.” —Deb Leone Rosenberg

“Not necessarily straight politics per se. But they certainly can glean Jewish values and comment on how appropriate they are today.” —Jeffrey Jay Blustein

“The issue is difficult when you support X politically yet at the same time you realize it runs counter to Jewish or Christian or Buddhist values.” -–Bradley P. O’Brien

“Rabbis are human like us and have the right to make mistakes like us. We all have the right to have an opinion, they should not be banned, just like we do not want to be banned.” —Victor Murkies

“No. Unless they want to lose half the congregation each time they get up to the bima.” —Lowell Cabotage

“I think religious leaders have a duty, an obligation, to help guide people how to apply their religion to their lives in the world. After all, what is religion about? How to live! How does one live and ethical life? How does one live an authentic life? How does one treat other people? Does this mean telling people how to vote? NO NO NO. And in the spirit of separation of church and state I do not think religions and religious institutions should be tax exempt.” —Phyllis Evan

“I believe that rabbis should teach, rather than preach, be that teaching about current social and political issues, or matters of the heart and soul.” —Miriam R L Petruck

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

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Should Rabbis Be Preaching Politics From The Pulpit?

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