October 26, 2009
Further to the news that Rabbi Nathan Asmoucha has been placed in a situation where he has stood down after a row over his part in a demonstration against the role of banks in the financial crisis. I recognise he failed to gain permission for his participation in a political campaign. If we Jews had to wait for permission to embark on politically motivated activity we would have to sit on our hands for an inordinately long time. Indeed, we might still be waiting to enter Eretz Yisroel.
I feel the move against Rabbi Nathan maybe a case of over-reaction brought on perhaps by a spasm of unnecessary defensiveness. Whilst there is an argument that Rabbi Nathan could some how have jeopardised the Synagogue security this suggestion may mask other considerations given the geographical position of the shul within the City of London.
I appreciate if the elders feel he should put his congregation first; yet I would say that there is an even higher moral and social imperative in existence here and one that reaches out to a broader society than exists within the confines of your own congregation.
When greed and excess of this magnitude threatens to fracture our society and render it dysfunctional and when this get-rich culture undermines our communities we should be proud that one of our religious leaders articulates our muted anger and diffused resentment; and when he bravely takes a stand in the vanguard against this form of incipient idolatry, it is indeed a mitzvah.