On Constructively Harnessing Tensions Between Laity and Clergy

By Marc D. Stern

Yeshiva University Press, 2006

True to its title, this thorough and in-depth article delves into the complex relationship between the laity and the clergy in the Orthodox Jewish world. Specifically, Stern focuses on defining the characteristics of the American Modern Orthodox community, details the community's assimilation of the American democratic tradition, writes about the educational achievements of the community, and delves into money's role in the Orthodox community, among many other topics covered pertaining to the laity. Then, the article focuses on the American Orthodox rabbinate, particularly in relation to their continued need to at times criticize the community, the lack of value given by some rabbinic authorities to secular activity (which the author disagrees with), the lack of courage among many leaders to stand up to the 'rabbinic consensus,' and the flawed concept of rabbinic omniscience (namely, rabbis should not be giving secular legal advice according to the author). Ultimately, the author calls for continued dialogue between the two groups, so that the relationship is not "destructive," but is rather "creative.

Topic: Non-Professional Leadership, Democracy, Orthodox Judaism, Lay Leadership, Discourse and Dialogue, Clergy, Assimilation

Name of Publication: Rabbinic and Lay Communal Authority

Editor: Last-Stone, Suzanne

Page Number(s): 129-160

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Genre: Book Chapter

Coverage: United States

Language: English

Copyright Holder: Publisher

Copyright Information: Download for personal use, freely distribute link

Bibliographic Information:
Stern, Marc D. On Constructively Harnessing Tensions Between Laity and Clergy. Rabbinic and Lay Communal Authority. Yeshiva University Press. 2006: 129-160. http://www.bjpa.org/Publications/details.cfm?PublicationID=5575


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