I heard this joke after I complained about my rough bus ride experiences in Israel.  A rabbi and a Tel Aviv bus driver died. 

At the Heavenly Court the verdicts ”the rabbi goes to hell” and “the bus driver goes to heaven” were announced. “I don’t understand, I am a rabbi and I am going to hell and this bus driver doesn’t even keep the Sabbath and he is heading straight to heaven” the rabbi exclaimed. 

The Court replied, “I am sorry rabbi, whenever you spoke the congregants fell asleep, but, whenever this bus driver drove, the passengers on the bus prayed.”

I liked the joke because it carries an important message, those who are carrying a title like a rabbi are no exceptions to the rule, they should also do their jobs right. 

Four rabbis from different Temples in Great Neck and Lake Success sent a joint character reference letter to support Steven Markowitz to Great Neck News. 

Mr. Markowitz is the chairman of the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau county.  He also holds two positions for the Democratic party. 

In 2015 he sent an email which included hate language and scare tactics against the Orthodox Jews for the sake of winning an election. He was denying sending the email for a while but after the hard evidence surfaced he is no longer in denial of sending the hate email.  By now anyone following the news knows the facts.

Did these rabbis do their job right?

In law, there are categories of crimes known as acts of omission. For instance, when someone chooses to not state of his/her knowledge of a crime in his/her testimony or statement it is considered an act of omission – as opposed to an act of commission, which means actively committing a crime.

Prior to taking responsibility and apology for the 2015 hate email, Mr. Markowitz had requested from some rabbis, political friends and acquaintances and different boards members to send character reference letters to the local newspapers.  

In addition to the rabbis, some fellow Democrat politician wrote character reference letters in his support and sent them to the newspapers.  Some even wrote that Markowitz never wrote the hate email.

Did the Democratic politicians who sent support letters to the papers do their job right or they damaged the reputation of their party?   It certainly seems they did. 

They may wish to send statements condemning the use of hate language and scare tactics against any groups including the Orthodox Jews for any reason including winning an election.  The ends do not justify the means.

Those rabbis who send a joint support statement may wish to utilize their knowledge of the Jewish literature and issue a new joint statement and condemn use of any hate language against any group including the Orthodox Jews. This would serve to bring unity to the community.  It is in their hands now, they can choose to do the right thing.

Otherwise, you never know, one day, the High Court might reply ”I am sorry rabbi but your crimes were acts of omission.”

Gary Giltner

Great Neck

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