For the last three years the Great Synagogue has been looking for a Rabbi to succeed retired Rabbi Emeritus Morton Narrowe and Rabbi Emeritus Phil Spectre. We had for a short time between 2005 and 2007 Rabbi Dov Vogel, but since then, we have been without a Rabbi, although R. Narrowe jumped in 25% until Nov. 09, we also have had guest Rabbis coming for Holidays and weekends, and like this we have managed, and even more now with the support of the Rabbinate of Masorti Europe since we became affiliated 2009. But still not a Rabbi that has taken the pulpit a 100%. It seems that after more than 70 candidates have sent their CV’s that we haven’t been able to get the right person to lead the religious life of our Synagogue in Stockholm. But there is hope. Next week we will have here Rabbi Michael Schwartz coming together with his wife. Rabbi Schwartz works in an organization called Rabbis for Human Rights in Israel, I wonder if my cousin Ed Beck knows him, since he leads Scholars for Peace, these organizations are watching and searching to get a balance, for means to get the political front change its course, which is a task that works two ways, with the Israeli and the Palestinian sides. This makes it more attractive, from my point of view, to bring a Rabbi that can handshake with for example, muslims, a growing population in Europe, it reminds me I read somewhere of the times Rabbi Ehrenpries was hired in this same community while looking to strengthen the links with the Zionist movement. It would very much be in the Swedish Jewish Community’s interest to have a Rabbi that can, not only deal with internal matters of the Jewish community but be a speaker to the outside world, a task which Rabbi Narrowe took upon himself and succeeded. As well in March we will have again the opportunity to have here Rabbi David Lazar of whom I posted already in this blog when talking about Limmud. Rabbi Lazar this time comes as a candidate and also has very strong ties with the land of Israel and its problems. As for other candidates who could also fill in this necessary position, we do need to stress in an administrative, executive style, but also a charismatic and proactive leader that takes our Synagogue to the place it deserves in Stockholm. We the Cantors are anxious to see this happen. Let’s hope the lay leadership succeeds, from former failures, as we heard how Rabbi Stuart Altshuler couldn’t come, he would have been a great colleague, but yes, a Rabbi comes with his family, as we did, and the spouse is also part of the picture, in Ecuador they solved it by hiring us both. Here, well, Rabbi Phil Spectre did not have that problem since his wife, Barbara got a job in Stockholm and still is the Director of Paideia, the Institute for Jewish Culture in Europe. As for the rest of us, coming from abroad and taking a position in the Jewish Community and planning to stay, we will have to manage, where the most important thing is to learn the language, and not only but be proficient at it, as for my wife, as a Stockholm’s authorized guide in Swedish and two Swedish Master degrees, as an Art Historian and as a Museum Pedagogue, she certainly has achieved a lot, but to get in to the labor market, it is not as easy in this very competitive world of museums and art where not much of multiculturalism has been taken into account, at the end she will find the right job that suits her academical level, I hope. That, the other challenge anyone taking the position will have, first learning the language and also a spouse that will be able to be feel she can contribute and be part of this beautiful country’s development, and last bu not least, the also very important fact that one has to understand its taxation system, a country which is so different from the US or other countries in that aspect, and that has as well set an example for the rest of the world in its social welfare system, as soon one sees the benefits of it and understands it, and the list is long: pension, family allowance, study allowance, welfare, medical insurance, between others, all this included in the high taxes one pays but sees rewarded as also in many other aspects as the public transportation system, not to say that a watch can be set at a bus stop ( note: not under winter storms and with minus 15 degrees C.) . A clean and “safe” country when compared to other metropolis. And a model city in environmental care. With the most beautiful summer you can imagine.
So let’s again pray for the future with optimism and confident that the right person soon will fill our beautiful Synagogue with words of wisdom.