Airing our dirty laundry

Being Jewish in Hawaii is not very fun right now. In fact, on some levels, it kind of stinks.

Our congregation is going through a terrible time. Meshugas. We are fighting about the Rabbi. Shame on us. Ahana kōkō lele –or should I say “Halala ukulele?” Much of the behavior has been quite childish.

Our Temple Board has voted 8:5 to recommend not renewing his contract. They have called upon the congregation to vote on the matter and they have not provided any reasonable or substantial information as to why we should follow their suggestion. They just want us to vote.

I hear this kind of situation is not unusual. Many congregations are afflicted with similar woes. That does not make it okay.

My family is upset. That’s kind of the reason I haven’t posted on this blog for a few weeks. I have been distracted.

We have a wonderful relationship with our Rabbi and are agitated that we even have to address this issue.

He married me and my husband almost five years ago, bringing us together as a family.

Our teenager studied for and became a Bat Mitzvah with him. She is devastated at the prospect of going to shul without him. During Erev Shabbat services last week she whispered the announcement in my ear that if he goes….she is not coming back to Temple.

Our younger girl is currently in the midst of the Bat Mitzvah process. She asked to study with him and enjoys their weekly sessions.

It’s not just about a contract, it is about relationships. I am being asked to consider severing a very important personal and family relationship because other people are mad about something and won’t even talk about it with me.

This is like a bad divorce where the adults are fighting and taking sides and don’t even consider how the potential loss affects the kids.

It wasn’t until I was reading the debut issue of Mana Magazine this morning that I wanted to write this blog post.

Mana is “published by a jointly owned subsidiary of The Kālaimoku Group and Pacific Basin Communications.” According to an article in Hawaii Reporter, co-publisher John Aeto said, “We hope to inspire serious exchange, sharing contrasting opinions and ideas on the hard-hitting topics such as governance, education, health, income and more.”

Let’s learn from the Hawaiians. We live in Hawaii. I enjoy the unique and wonderful choice of being Jewish in Hawaii and I won’t let it be spoiled.

“Mana” in the Hawaiian language means power or authority, sometimes spiritual or divine power. I think that our Temple’s mana needs some reorganization.

The magazine mentions kukakuka-talk story and discussion. Yes. We need that.

An article that covered the recent visit from the Dalai Lama deeply moved me. We should take a step back and learn from his message. “He spread his message of compassion, trust and human oneness, and absorbed the intricacies of the meaning of aloha.”

Exactly–the meaning of aloha. How about Shaloha?

He is quoted in the article, “Century of peace does not mean there are no longer any problems among humanity. Problems will be there, even increasing. So, the only way to deal with the problem? Not through violence, not through using force, but through logic, through reason, on the basis of mutual respect, dialogue. This should be the century of dialogue.”

How can I teach my children about peace when they can’t even find it at the Synagogue?

Hawaiian culture engages in the practice of Ho’oponopono – reconciliation and forgiveness. That’s what we need.

And we need a lot of practice.

14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. freecatholic808
    May 15, 2012 @ 21:12:49

    Sorry to see you going through this difficult process, Lorraine. Hope they heed your advice to talk things through. I am afraid many unloving things are done in the name of faith–and n
    ot just in the Jewish community. I am angered and saddened by the false, misplaced priorities of the Catholic Bishops–which is a big part of why I write my blog. Too many gargoyles, not enough angels. Maybe you are being one of the angels 🙂


  2. Alohachief
    May 16, 2012 @ 02:37:38

    I also do not underestand this. I am not a current member of temple E, I have met and like the Rabbi.

    25 years ago, the congrgation went through a bitter fight over the then Rabbi. I didn;t underestand it then. I gave up on the Temple after I was not renewed as a teacher because i give my pree-Bar Mitzvah students 15 minute reading assignments for their Sunday ethics course.

    My solution was to return to the Aloha Chapel.


  3. Missy Pershin
    May 16, 2012 @ 05:00:37

    Lorraine, I’m so sorry to hear the Temple is going through this again. They did it with Rabbi Magid & he still bears the scars poor guy. I’m praying you for Temple E & Rabbi S, he was there for me when my mom passed away & I really liked him! I never thought the board should have complete control over the Rabbi’s contract. I’ve always felt it should be up to the congregation..or they should at least have a vote. Best of luck!


    • Being Jewish in Hawaii
      May 16, 2012 @ 05:43:35

      Hi Missy. Mahalo for your comment. We do have a vote, so that’s the good thing. It’s just that the only official information that we are getting is negative and they are recommending that we vote against renewing his contract. It has gotten ugly and it is too bad.


  4. Peter Hoffenberg
    May 16, 2012 @ 11:01:46

    Dear Alohachief, Please come back to teach our children at SJS! If interested contact me: Peter Hoffenberg,, a Temple E Board Member (who voted against the resolution to terminate the Rabbi).


  5. Martha Gershun
    May 16, 2012 @ 12:04:36

    Lorrie – You capture this difficult situation so well. I’m so sorry about the pain in your community — and how it hurts your family. There’s a great line in Exodus where Moses basically says to God: “How do you expect me to lead this stiff-necked people?” Sometimes, I think we haven’t learned much since then.


  6. Barbara Gass
    May 16, 2012 @ 19:41:21

    That is a very impressive blog. I can read your pain, angst and frustration. We have been in similar circumstances in our congregation and I wish I could advise you. There is no silver bullet, just a darn shame that it has to come to this.
    Your MIL


  7. Miriam
    May 16, 2012 @ 19:47:37

    I agree that relationships are important; more so when considering that the Jewish Community imparticular is so small. I hope the Rabbi stays and that the Temple can get it togther. Thanks for your post.


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