The Forward is out with a list of “America’s Most Inspiring Rabbis,” presumably a response to the much-discussed (and disputed) “Newsweek and The Daily Beast’s Top 50 Rabbis” list.
Which forces me to chart new ground:
America’s Least Inspiring Rabbis
1/ Yitzie Shlugman
Miami Beach, Fl.
With ordination from North Dakota Hebrew College and a B.A. in phys ed, Rabbi Shlugman likes to call himself a “personal spiritual trainer,” and is now offering a 20% discount on first-time “Core and Kabbala” appointments. Unfortunately, Shlugman has been banned from Gold’s Gym on Lincoln Blvd. for excessive sweating, and is currently offering home visits only. Former congregants refer to him as “nicely built” and “stultifying to the extreme.”
2/ Sylvia Kiner-Gentler
Northport, Long Island
Rabbi Kiner-Gentler’s first move as rabbi of Ohel Tikveh was to antagonize the brotherhood by banning Saturday night screenings of “Stripes” and “The Dark Knight.” She replaced these with feminist classics like “Tootsie” and “Norma Rae.” The board initally applauded the move, until they realized they were to be live performances of the two films, with Rabbi Kiner-Gentler playing all the roles.
3/ Jared Fhluhg
Shaker Heights, Ohio
A congregant had this to say about Rabbi Fhluhg: “I moved to town when I was transferred by my bank, and didn’t know anyone. I met Rabbi Fhluhg in the kosher aisle the week before Passover, and he asked if I was Jewish. And then he asked if I would use one of his coupons to get him a free box of matzah, because he had already hit the one-box limit and the cashier apparently recognized him despite the fake mustache. I’ll never forget his kind words: ‘I’ll leave my trunk open, and you can just slip the box in as you go by.””
4/ Uzi Ben-Ari Ben-Uzi
Rego Park, N.Y.
A native of Israel, “Rabbi Uzi” is known for his fluency in six languages, muscular build, martial arts skills, and high-tech electronics collection. Congregants appreciate his sermons, although complain that he is too often absent from synagogue when he is called away to what he calls “rabbinic retreats” in Paris, Algiers, Amman, and Beirut. “And such a sense of humor,” says one congregant. “I once asked him to tell us what he learned at his last retreat, and he said, ’I can tell you, but I’d have to kill you.’ And then he said, ‘I am serious – I will rip your throat out.’ What a kidder!”
5/ Arkady Demonstratov
St. Louis, Mo.
Rabbi Demonstratov arrived in the U.S. in the first wave of Jewish emigration from the former Solyankastan, claiming ordination from the Beis Midrash Hagadol of the capital city, Lapsha. “Good enough for me,” said the synagogue president, Marv Klavner, overlooking the candidate’s impenetrable accent and tendency to confuse “Moses” with “Jesus.” Under Rabbi Demonstratov, synagogue attendence, once limited to Klavner and his immediate family, has grown to include Klavner’s son-in-law, Evan, and a Zumba class that rents space in the basement.
Watch this blog for more “Least Inspiring Rabbis”!