Once upon a time, in the early middle ages, there was a mighty and strong Christian church. Yet slowly erosion set in as the constant infighting and bickering among the different factions started a process that was known later as the Great Schism. It created two different churches, the Western (Catholic) and the Eastern (Orthodox). They have divided between them the territories of their influence and even today the tension between them is just as bad as it was at the beginning.
Immanuel is neither the Vatican nor Constantinople, yet the evil force of the whirlwind churning up the waves in its little washtub could one day upturn, and then the ugly, murky flood, heaven forbid, will wash over every bit of good soil in the state of the Jews.
Can we afford the luxury of having two churches in Jewry? It seems that the irrational decision of having two chief rabbis in Israel, started already paving the way in that direction. There is no doubt that every chief rabbi of whatever denomination wields immense power. First of all, they are the exponents of their flock toward the government and its institutions. It goes without saying that in this position they also centralize huge political clout and though they speak softly – most of the time – they also carry a big stick.
Interestingly one hears less about their spiritual influence. Somehow over the years the rabbinical “courtyards” of the different streams have grabbed the rule over the affairs of the religious community by issuing formal and informal decrees covering almost every aspect of everyday life. Rabbis found it necessary to give their personal commentary on rabbinical law. This is how division started. Whose opinion was more important? The Ashkenazi rabbi says X, the Sephardic rabbi says Y or even Z. Who should people follow and whose call should they obey?
So, now we are in Immanuel. The Western Church vs. the Eastern Church. Over a seemingly minor issue of deciding whose level of adherence to religion is greater, we have now a complete rift between the Sephardic and Ashkenazi communities in Immanuel.
For the time being in Immanuel, but this local issue, if not taken care of with lots of understanding and humanistic approach could snowball into a menace that we all want to avoid. We cannot, in the face of all the threats from the outside and in turbulent times like these allow internal fights to break down our immunity. This should be the first item on the agenda of everyone dealing with this crisis. Furthermore, I would like to see the courageous government that decides instead of having two chief rabbinates to have only one and rotate the office between the two main streams.