IT was understandably deeply distressing and hugely embarrassing for Rabbi Fabian Sborovsky of the Menorah (Cheshire Reform) Synagogue when he accepted an invitation from an Orthodox colleague to attend a candle-lit vigil for the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. On Page 12, he recalls how he was excluded as Orthodox rabbis offered their tributes to those murdered.
This was not a synagogue service, nor even mincha nor maariv. There was a selection of readings, kaddish and tehillim. There was no reason whatsoever why Orthodox colleagues should have treated Rabbi Sborovsky in this way, particularly since all those killed were members of a Progressive congregation — precisely the type of synagogue most Orthodox rabbis would shun. Rabbi Sborovsky was by far the most appropriate person to have been involved. Those who died were Jews, a fact recognised by those Manchester rabbis who paid tribute to them. Had a member of the Christian clergy chosen to read an appropriate Old Testament passage, a psalm or a poem, would he have been treated thus? It is doubtful.
Orthodox clergy might not agree with his brand of Judaism, but on occasions like this compassion and respect spring to mind. This was a time when religious differences were irrelevant, as evidenced by those rabbis who participated showing their solidarity with a Progressive community in America. Rabbi Sborovsky is surely owed a profound apology for the way he was treated. This was time to come together, not to introduce unnecessary divisions of which there are far too many within Anglo-Jewry.
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