It is probably too much to hope for, but we hope nevertheless that the recent Schneier-Boteach/Sharpton debacle will serve as an object lesson to macher wannabees.
Rabbi Marc Schneier has made a high profile career out of pushing the envelope and charting his own course ? however unwise and ill-advised it may be, and however much others decline to do the same. In our view, he has done much harm to our community in his distortion of true Jewish feminism. He has undermined respect for Judaism as a normative faith by his intra-faith organization building. And he has demeaned the Jewish community by literally groveling in his high profile efforts to foster Jewish-Black relations. But, we will give him that he has achieved instant name recognition.
Rabbi Shmueli Boteach, a relative newcomer to the Jewish public scene, has notoriously seized upon a salacious theme and leeringly leapfrogged to the top of the talk show heap.
But both erstwhile rabbis were upended by their recent efforts to get their arms around Al Sharpton. As just about everyone knows, both promoted a trip to Israel by the good Reverend ? ostensibly to get him to open his eyes about Israel, they said ? with Boteach actually accompanying him there. Once there, however, Sharpton followed his own agenda and promptly had a very public meeting with Yasir Arafat which overshadowed anything he did with Israeli leaders and which had to encourage Arafat and be duly noted by Sharpton's followers here in the States.
Boteach expressed embarrassment and Schneier went into hiding. But we would hope that those with a notoriety of sorts would think long and hard before venturing into areas about which they really know very little. Perhaps Rabbis Marc and Shmueli should stick with the Hollywood crowd and Ophra Winfrey, respectively.